Posts Tagged ‘Dietrich Bonhoeffer’
Thinking we are being unkind, we do not speak. Fearing we are being judgmental, we remain silent. Back to the question of several days ago, “How do we love a fellow sinner well when we see them on a path of destruction,” we should ask ourselves why we would remain silent. Today, the last in a series on community from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together.
It is a good time to ask ourselves and to bring before God this matter of Christian community. Where am I? Longing for community. Graced with rich community but on the outer fringes? Enjoying giving and receiving love of all kinds?
If we cannot bring ourselves to say the necessary word, we will have to ask ourselves whether we are not still seeing other Christians clothed in a human dignity that we think we dare not touch, and thus whether we are not forgetting the most important thing—that they, too, no matter how old or high ranking or distinguished they may be, are still persons like us, sinners crying out for God’s grace.
They have the same great troubles that we have, and need help, comfort, and forgiveness as we do. The basis on which Christians can speak to one another is that each knows the other as a sinner who, even given all one’s human renown, is forlorn and lost if not given help. This does not mean that the others are being disparaged or dishonored. Rather, we are paying them the only real honor a human being has, namely, that as sinners they share in God’s grace and glory, that they are children of God.
This realization gives our mutual speech the freedom and openness it needs. We talk to one another about the help we both need. We admonish one another to go the way Christ bids us to go. We warn one another against the disobedience that is our undoing. We are gentle and we are firm with one another, for we know both God’s kindness and God’s firmness.
Why should we be afraid of one another since both of us have only God to fear? Why should we think that another Christian would not understand us when we understood very well what was meant when somebody spoke God’s comfort or God’s admonition to us, even in words that were inept and awkward? Or do we really believe there is a single person in this world who does not need either comfort or admonition? If so, then why has God given us the gift of Christian community?
Okay, I admit, that’s a cheesy title, especially given the depth of Bonhoeffer’s words about Christ in community, but I’m a little — shall-we- say — challenged at the moment. I promise to get back to the third piece of service, but today we need this word:
“Christ is depicted as the embodiment both of God and Christians, who are moved to do what, without Christ, they would be unable to accomplish: to live together, sharing faith, hope, and self-giving love in a prayerful, compassionate, caring community. Christ is present in the community as representative of God’s graced outreach to God’s children and the incarnate embodiment of all those who crave in their faith for community with God. The Christ of Life Together is the binding force of that community in its “togetherness,” gracing Christians to go beyond the superficial, often self-centered, relationships of their everyday associations toward a more intimate sense of what it means to be Christ to others, to love others as Christ has loved them.”
Think about it. How does being in Christ and Christ being in you make a difference in the way you relate to community?
“The dead Jesus Christ of Good Friday and the resurrected Lord of Easter Sunday: this is creation out of nothingness, creation from the beginning. The fact that Christ was dead did not mean the possibility of his resurrection: it meant the impossibility; it was nothingness itself. There is absolutely no transition, no continuum between the dead and the resurrected Christ other than the freedom of God, which created his work from nothingness in the beginning…He, who is the beginning, lives, annihilates the nothingness, and creates the new creation in his resurrection. From his resurrection we know about the creation, for if he were not raised, the Creator would be dead and would not bear witness to himself. From his creation, however, we know once again about the power of his resurrection, because he remains the Lord of the nothingness.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer “I Want to Live These Days with You”
- 18th December 2009
- Filed under: advent
Dietrich Bonhoeffer always challenges my preconceptions and misconceptions. Read this devotional from I Want to Live These Days with You and tell me what you think:
“Not everyone can wait: neither the sated nor the satisfied nor those without respect can wait. The only ones who can wait are people who carry restlessness around with them and people who look up with reverence to the greatest in the world. Thus Advent can be celebrated only by those whose souls give them no peace, who know that they are poor and incomplete, and who sense something of the greatness that is supposed to come, before which they can only bow in humble timidity, waiting until he inclines himself toward us — the Holy One himself, God in the child in the manger.
God is coming; the Lord Jesus is coming: Christmas is coming. Rejoice, O Christendom!….When the old Christendom spoke of the coming again of the Lord Jesus, it always thought first of all of a great day of judgment. And as un-Christmas-like as this idea may appear to us, it comes from early Christianity and must be taken with utter seriousness…The coming of God is truly not only a joyous message, but is, first, frightful news for anyone with a conscience.
And only when we have felt the frightfulness of the matter can we know the incomparable favor. God comes in the midst of evil, in the midst of death, and judges the evil in us and in the world. And in judging it, he loves us, he purifies us, he sanctifies us, he comes to us with his grace and love. He makes us happy as only children can be happy.”