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Worship of the Reformation – Guebwiller October 30, 2022

Mark 1, 16-20 (17) (I will make you fishers of men); Luke 17:20-21 (the Kingdom of God is in your midst); 1 Corinthians 2:12-13 (on the divinity of Jesus)


We are in the midst of a paradox! We celebrate the Reformation by remembering a man, Albert Schweitzer, who many of our contemporaries do not know is a Protestant, a pastor and a theologian. For many Albert Schweitzer is initially an unknown. He no longer shines in the firmament of celebrities as he did after the war. For those who still know him, he is at best a humanitarian doctor who built a hospital in the jungle, at worst a colonizer who cleared his conscience by going to treat the natives. Few are those who, outside of our Church circles, remember that he was an extremely talented organist, a specialist in Johann Sebastian Bach. Outside Alsace, it must be recognized that Schweitzer is unknown in the French-speaking world.


But the paradox of our day does not end with this celebration of a stranger. We celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Nobel Peace Prize awarded by the Royal Academy of Sciences in Stockholm to Schweitzer in 1952 but we sing songs of war. "Let God only show himself and we will suddenly see the camp of scattered enemies abandoning the place" or even later "it is a rampart that our God" or even "faith wins battles". Songs that have accompanied Protestant spirituality and have been taken up at each Reformation with enthusiasm and pleasure. Celebrating a Nobel Peace Prize with songs of war, let's admit that the paradox is manifest, all the more so today when religions are once again becoming markers of identity that threaten to pit one against the other.


But I still drive the point home of the paradoxes by associating Albert Schweitzer, the fetish theologian of liberal Protestants, the preacher of the unity of life and the presence of God within nature with Ulrich Zwingli, reformer from Zurich, tireless defender of the alliance between the City and the faith, promoter of an intransigent and rigorous Christian morality, and moreover, Ulrich Zwingli, contrary to the apostle of Peace that was Schweitzer, died on the battlefield, to Kappel aware of the war which was to decide the religious identity of the Confederacy.


Yes, there is more than one paradox in associating Albert Schweitzer and Ulrich Zwingli in the same commemoration of the 16th century Reformation, and not the least is the fact that Schweitzer has always been considered a heretic by the Churches. including the very one who sent him to Gabon, formally forbidding him to preach, lest he lead the famous natives down the wrong path. Another paradox, Schweitzer is sometimes considered, by those who know him, almost like a Protestant "saint", he who is all haloed by the work of Lambarene while Zwingli, for his part, is considered, here too by those who have heard speak of him as an example of Protestant radicalism, one that prevented unity with the Lutherans. Zwingli has bad press, synonymous with rigor and austerity when Schweitzer enjoys him an undeniable "respect".


This word "respect" is also not insignificant as it is coming back into fashion today. Respect is what is claimed by all minority groups, whether religious or political, even though we forget the meaning of the word “respect” as Schweitzer understood it. His whole philosophy is based on this word, or rather this concept which, in German, is much stronger than our respect. Indeed "Ehrfurcht" almost means "veneration", "Ehrfurcht vor dem Leben" is nothing less than the admiration of the world, of what is in the world and of all forms of life with the dimension of "fear". but not in the sense of being afraid of it but in the sense of fearing to harm, to break, to destroy. This is another way of saying "the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom" in the sense that veneration, admiration, in other words adoration of God is the beginning of attention to others, starting point of any form of ethics and of any form of good life.


Because it is not for Schweitzer to respect all forms of life: there are forms of life which destroy, which dirty, which are harmful. He makes the simple observation that all forms of life have the principle of seeking their own preservation, even at the expense of other forms of life. The microbe or the virus must not be preserved when it endangers the life of an individual. For Schweitzer, good and evil exist and we heard it earlier: “good consists in preserving and promoting life; evil consists in destroying life or hindering it. ".


This is where our two characters come together: the whole of Zwingli's life is a protest against what degrades humanity in man in the name of a dogma and a theology that have become an instrument of power, enrichment, in a word, it has become ideology to the detriment of individuals and social groups. Both Schweitzer and Zwingli are promoters of social progress, of human progress. Both are steeped in the same conviction: that God's love comes first and that he wants the good of man, his happiness and a harmonious, orderly and fraternal life. There also we heard it just now: “First of all, take care that man does not perish. Follow [Jesus], as I followed him, and find him where others no longer find him: in the mud, in bestiality, in contempt; go to him and help him, until he becomes a man again”.


“Let man become a man again” and stop being the plaything of fatalities, powers and authorities. And likewise, we have heard "the main thing is not that you seek the best discourse that one can hold on [Jesus] or that you try to rise to the height of what is taught about Jesus; the main thing is its presence in your life and that you are ready to give it its full place when necessary. ". “The main thing is his presence in your life”, is there a finer definition of what the Christian faith is?


This is exactly, several centuries later, Zwingli's watchword: "To be a Christian is not to speak of Christ but to live like him". He also literally said "it is not to ramble on about Christ but to lead his life as he wanted to". For those who speak Zwyserdytch, he used the term “zwashta” which corresponds to our Alsatian “ratscha”. It is a consistent faith that takes seriously the intent of the gospel but how can one live like Christ? For that, must one abandon everything, take a stick and go to the desert, or go and preach in the squares, risk one's life and seek martyrdom? Should we take sandals and work miracles? Raise the dead and heal the sick? However, we no longer live in the 1st century of our era or in the 16th century, we have our constraints, our obligations, our responsibilities, everything that obliges us to lead a reasonable life.


Zwingli was revolted by the misery and distress of the population of Zurich and by the indifference of the Church of his time. Based on Matthew 25, "everything you have done (or not done) to the least of my brothers, it is to me that you have (or not) done", it establishes a moral of man, accessible to everyone and yet aiming to improve the lot of all. And here too Schweitzer joins him in this desire to propose an ethics of daily life.


Isn't there a new paradox here? Like pretending to be able to do like Schweitzer? He followed Jesus, of course, he went to the banks of the Ogoué but that is not possible for us. His destiny is extraordinary when ours is that of ordinary men and women, sometimes stuck in the complications or the sufferings of existence. Schweitzer is a saint and we cannot be. And yet, the three biblical texts that I chose to read earlier had in common that they undermined this idea of Schweitzer's exceptionality. These are recurring texts in Schweitzer's work and thought. All of its theology and philosophy are built on the idea of the Kingdom of God, but of a kingdom that it is up to us to build. When he urges us to follow Christ, when he presents Jesus first of all as the one who will seek a man to make him a "fisher of men", it is not to convert, convince or dominate but it is to restore, serve, educate, nourish, relieve, rebuild.


We will hear it later, at the time of the sending, Schweitzer wants us to realize that we are all "workers of the kingdom" and that each and every one of us, in our place in "our activity everyday life, however prosaic and monotonous, will be a source of joy because we know, whatever place we occupy, that we can spread a little of the spirit of the Kingdom of God and that everyone can find outside of his profession a "secondary task", an opportunity to serve". Words he made during a sermon in 1913, before becoming the Schweitzer we know.


This is to live like Christ, as Zwingli demanded, it is to make ourselves servants to each other, it is to consider ourselves as brothers, it is there again to use the words of Schweitzer "God does not want not for a man to say: “This man is not from the same people as me, he does not look at me [...]”, no, God wants a man to say: “All men are my brothers”.


Consistent faith is faith that manifests itself in action. When he tells us, as we have heard, “I believe because I act. The action is for me the primordial fact”, it does not mean that the faith does not have importance and that only count the actions, the works. He simply means that abstract realities, the presence of God, the love and grace of God, those things we believe in are sometimes hard to believe but come true when we act for the good of another. The love of God, the grace of God, salvation, redemption are never words without reality as long as we do not put them into practice with those who live with us.


God himself does not exist if we do not become his hands, his feet, his mouth and his heart, if we are not his body, he is only a symbol without interest for humanity. And here again is a point in common between Zwingli and Schweitzer: this common concern for man based on the primary conviction of God's love for the humanity he created. Their whole life, both of them, will have been this cry of alarm against men who destroy other men or who destroy the world in which we live in the name of particular interests or for the greater glory of the Church, forgetting that the glory of God manifests itself most brilliantly when men and women, in flesh and blood, very concrete and very real, live well, are happy, secure, enjoy their their rights and their dignity, are free to choose their way of life, participate collectively in the search for the common good and perfect each one as far as his own being, his inner being, is concerned.


For Zwingli and Schweitzer still have in common this constant concern for the inner life of man: to care for humans is not only to care for their bodies for Schweitzer but also to restore their personality and for Zwingli, as for all the other reformers , individual and collective education was at the heart of his Reform project. He wanted to create a Protestant Academy in Zurich because he was convinced, as Calvin would say much later, that "where God is known, humanity is cultivated", cultivated in every sense of the word.

Schweitzer and Zwingli are the defenders of a religion of the mind, a thousand miles from the religions of authority. When Schweitzer tells us "The Kingdom of God consists in what we believe, want in the Spirit of Jesus and in what we act in order to fulfill the vocation of humanity" he underlines this dimension which is both interior and spiritual, the Spirit is what we have within us but a Spirit which must take shape and body in social and external life. It is not only a question of worshiping God in spirit, implying in one's heart of hearts, it is necessary to worship him in spirit and in truth in all areas of our existence, both private and public. It is this coherence between convictions and realizations that is at the heart of Zwinglian and Schweitzerian theologies and of the Reformation in general: the Spirit of the Kingdom of God.


Today, celebrating the Reformation is not only remembering our great elders, our peers in the faith, it is renewing our desire to be workers in the kingdom as we have always wanted to be. If we are here, it is of course because we have this firm conviction that God loves humanity and that we must serve it to the fullest extent of our means. But it can happen that we get tired, that we are tired of not seeing progress, worried to see the waves destroying what we have laboriously sought to build. It is legitimate, but we need to take courage every day and if we can find in the words of Schweitzer an encouragement to take up the torch and to put on the overalls of the worker of the Kingdom, we rediscover the joy of faith.

As for battle hymns, let us sing them with all our heart, knowing that the first battle we have to fight is against our discouragement, against our fears and our worries, against ourselves and our facilities, our renunciations. and our compromises then yes, it is indeed against these things that our God is a rampart.


Roland Kauffmann, October 30, 2022

Reformation Cult 

70th birthday

Albert Schweitzer's Nobel Prize

October 30, 2022

Find opposite the entire cult of the Reformation, entirely organized around quotes from Albert Schweitzer.

Quotes selected by

Roland Kauffman.


  • Pray 15 days with Albert Schweitzer, Matthieu Arnold, New City 2012

  • Albert Schweitzer. compassion and reason, Matthieu Arnold, Olivetan, 2015

  • The Spirit and the Kingdom. Albert Schweitzer, trans. Jean-Paul Sorg, Arfuyen, 2015

  • It is not enough to believe.Albert Schweitzer, introduction, translation and notes Jean-Paul Sorg, Ampélos, 2018


Words of welcome and Invocation 





Song 243 Great God We Bless You 1-4


Preaching the Kingdom of God (Albert Schweitzer quotes)


The great weakness of all the doctrine of redemption which appeared after primitive Christianity is that it maintains man only for his personal salvation, independently of the coming of the Kingdom of God. As long as this last concern remains in the background, Christianity in the world will be like a winter forest.


Christianity is in essence a religion of faith in the coming kingdom of God.


History as we know it today, in all that has been missed, enjoins us to think otherwise [than as Jesus thought, namely a supernatural upheaval of the universe] the coming kingdom of God . We believe that it will have to become reality in the very course of this world, and not out of the world; that it can happen through the action of men, and not through the miraculous intervention of God. Kingdom of God, kingdom of Jesus, kingdom of the Spirit, it is for us the same idea, that of a destiny of the world which will see the Spirit of Jesus reign among men.


The Kingdom of God consists in what we believe, want in the Spirit of Jesus and in what we act in order to fulfill the vocation of humanity.


Response 532, You call us to love you 1


Following Jesus and working for the Kingdom (quotes from Albert Schweitzer)


Let's walk ! The Spirit speaking to me is a reality, the only supernatural reality that really exists for me. The rest is only a symbol, the meaning of which depends on a single fact: I believe because I act. The action is for me the primordial fact.


Ethics is the implementation of freedom. All the good dispositions that are traditionally designated by the words love, gentleness, indulgence, mercy, converge and hold together, contained in ethical freedom in relation to the world: the individual possesses nothing of what constitutes the world, he can only give.


Ethics begins when the individual apprehends the state of the world and lets himself be overwhelmed by this terrible feeling of melancholy in the face of all that is wrong and that should be corrected.


(That's why) the main thing is not that you seek the best discourse one can have on [Jesus] or that you try to rise to the height of what is taught about Jesus; the main thing is its presence in your life and that you are ready to give it its full place when necessary. Then he will reveal himself on your path and he will read in your heart the true faith which is yours and which no one else can understand.


In the first commandment that the Lord gave on earth, we find the word “man” (Mensch)”. it does not speak of religion, of faith, of the soul or anything else but only of man. “I will make you fishers of men (Mark 1,17). It is as if he were saying to all future generations: "First of all, take care that man does not perish." Follow [Jesus], as I followed him, and find him where others no longer find him: in the mud, in bestiality, in contempt; go to him and help him, until he becomes a man again”.


Response 532, You call us to love you 2


Respect life (quotes from Albert Schweitzer)


In the attitude of respect before life, our will becomes clear and becomes aware of itself. The thought of respect for life obliges our will to say yes to the fact of our existence. In it takes root all morality.


The world presents this terrifying spectacle of wills to live tearing each other apart. (…) Each will to live (is) in opposition to the others, knowing nothing of them. But in me the will to live has become aware of the existence of other wills to live. In me there appears an aspiration to become universal and to merge into one.


The most immediate datum grasped by the consciousness of man can be expressed as follows: I am life, which wants to live, among an infinity of other lives, which likewise want to live.


What we call respect for life comes down in its essence to love.


Ethics comes from the fact that I feel the need to testify to any will to live respect for life than mine. Hence this fundamental principle of moral conduct, which imposes itself logically on thought: the good consists in preserving and favoring life; evil consists in destroying life or hindering it.


Answer 532, You call us to love you 3


Relieve the suffering of the weakest (quotes from Albert Schweitzer)


A heavy debt hangs over us and our civilization. We don't have the freedom to go or not go to help the men of the dark continent; we must. The good we do for them is not charity, but reparation.


For every man who has caused suffering, there must be one who leaves and helps.


The peace of God is not rest, but a force that keeps us going. Do not ask yourself: how to explain the events that struck me? But rather: what use will I make of it? This is the kind of understanding we need to come to.


Only he who respects the inner life of others can really count in his life. No man is completely and forever a stranger to man. Men belong to each other and what each does is up to the man.


God does not want a man to say: "This man is not of the same people as me, he does not look at me [...]", no, God wants a man to say: "All men are my brothers ".


There is no other destiny for humanity than that which it prepares for itself by its way of thinking. This is why I do not believe that it is condemned to follow the path of collapse to the end. Trusting in the power of truth and the Spirit, I believe in the future of humanity.


Answer 532, You call us to love you 4


Bible Readings

Mark 1, 16-20, I will make you fishers of men; Luke 17, 20-21, the Kingdom of God is in your midst; 1 Corinthians 2:12-13, on the divinity of Jesus


Psalm 68 God only show himself 1-5


Sermon "To be a Christian is not to speak of Christ but to live like him", Ulrich Zwingli

Musical interlude


Song 543 Our God Is A Bulwark 1-4


Announcements and collection


Intercession (Albert Schweitzer)


And what did the Lord do? He taught the Our Father to the disciples, so that, through the Our Father, they would learn to pray. This is why you too should sanctify the Our Father and pray it every day. The Lord taught it to us so that, in the evening, before going to sleep, we prayed to him in silence and gathered in this prayer the events, worries and thoughts of the day. […]

What I would like to ask you is both a little and a lot. Make the following decision: “I can't let a day go by without saying the Lord's Prayer at least once. That's not much, because I'm only asking you two or three minutes. It is a lot, because you will thus carry a blessing for your whole life. As long as you do, you cannot fall, but there will always be a voice to call you back. […]


Our father …


Song 628 faith overthrows before us 1-4


Sending (Albert Schweitzer)


The feeling that God needs men to act in the world, in us and around us, must penetrate our life and fill our existence. Let us be convinced that we must, according to our means, in hope and sorrow, be workers accomplishing the will of God and contributing to establish his reign. Then our daily activity, however prosaic and monotonous it may be, will be a source of joy because we know, whatever place we occupy, that we will be able to spread a little of the spirit of the Kingdom of God and that each will be able to find outside his profession a "secondary task", an opportunity to serve.




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