Thursday, May 24, 2007

A bunch of Bonhoeffer devotions

It's been crazy lately with school. I've ready so much good stuff lately that I've wanted to share it all. But though a bit behind, I'm going to post some recent Bonhoeffer devotions that are powerful. Enjoy!

Community Prayer
The prayer of the Psalms teaches us to pray as a community. The body of Christ is praying, and I as an
individual recognize that my prayer is only a tiny fraction of the whole prayer of the church. I learn to
join the body of Christ in its prayer. That lifts me above my personal concerns and allows me to pray
selflessly. Many of the Psalms were very probably prayed antiphonally by the Old Testament
congregation. The so-called parallelism of the verses, that remarkable repetition of the same idea in
different words in the second line of the verse, is not merely a literary form. It also has meaning for the
church and theology....One night read, as a particularly clear example, Psalm 5. Repeatedly there are
two voices, bringing the same prayer request to God in different words. Is that not meant to be an
indication that the one who prays never prays alone? There must always be a second person, another, a
member of the church, the body of Christ, indeed Jesus Christ himself, praying with the Christian in
order that the prayer of the individual may be true prayer.
from Life Together 57
from A Year with Dietrich Bonhoeffer Carla Barnhill, Ed., HarperSan Francisco, 2005

The Yoke of Christ
God is a God who bears. The Son of God bore our flesh, he bore the cross, he bore our sins, thus
making atonement for us. In the same way his followers are also called upon to bear, and that is
precisely what it means to be a Christian. Just as Christ maintained his communion with the Father by
his endurance, so his followers are to maintain their communion with Christ by their endurance. We
can of course shake off the burden which is laid upon us, but only find that we have a still heavier
burden to carry - a yoke of our own choosing, the yoke of our own self. But Jesus invites all those
travail and are heavy laden to throw off their own yoke and take his yoke upon them - and his yoke is
easy, and his burden is light. The yoke and the burden of Christ are his cross. To go one's way under the
sign of the cross is not misery and desperation but peace and refreshment for the soul, it is the highest
joy. Then we do not walk under our self-made laws and burdens, but under the yoke of him who knows
us and who walks under the yoke with us. Under his yoke we are certain of his nearness and
communion. It is he whom the disciple finds as he lifts up his cross.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer -
from A Testament to Freedom 315
from A Year with Dietrich Bonhoeffer Carla Barnhill, Ed., HarperSan Francisco, 2005

Free for Each Other
"The truth shall set you free" (John 8:32). Not our deed, not our courage or strength, not our people, not
our truth, but God's truth alone. Why? Because to be free does not mean to be great in the world, to be
free against our brothers and sisters, to be free against God; but it means to be free from ourselves,
from our untruth, in which it seems as if I alone were there, as if I were the center of the world; to be
free from the hatred with which I destroy God's creation; to be free from myself in order to be free for
others. God's truth alone allows me to see others. It directs my attention, bent in on myself, to what is
beyond and shows me the other person. And, as it does this, I experience the love and the grace of God.
It destroys our untruth and creates truth. It destroys hatred and creates love. God's truth is God's love,
and God's love frees us from ourselves to be free for others. To be free means nothing else than to be in
this love, and to be in this love means nothing else than to be in God's truth.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer -
from A Testament to Freedom 206
from A Year with Dietrich Bonhoeffer Carla Barnhill, Ed., HarperSan Francisco, 2005


The Wish Dream
On innumerable occasions a whole Christian community has been shattered because it has lived on the
basis of a wishful image. Certainly serious Christians who are put in a community for the first time will
often bring with them a very definite image of what Christian communal life should be, and they will
be anxious to realize it. But God's grace quickly frustrates all such dreams. A great disillusionment with
others, with Christians in general, and if we are fortunate, with ourselves, is bound to overwhelm us as
surely as God desires to lead us to an understanding of genuine Christian community. By sheer grace
God will not permit us to live in a dream world even for a few weeks and to abandon ourselves to those
blissful experiences and exalted moods that sweep over us like a wave of rapture. For God is not a God
of emotionalism, but the God of truth. Only that community which enters into the experiences of this
great disillusionment with all its unpleasant and evil appearances begins to be what it should be in
God's sight, begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer -
from Life Together 35
from A Year with Dietrich Bonhoeffer Carla Barnhill, Ed., HarperSan Francisco, 2005


Losing the Dream
A community that cannot bear and cannot survive...disillusionment, clinging instead to its idealized
image, when that should be done away with, loses at the same time the promise of a durable Christian
community. Sooner or later it is bound to collapse. Every human idealized image that is brought into
the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be broken up so that genuine
community can survive. Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than the Christian
community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions
may be ever so honest, earnest, and sacrificial. God hates this wishful dreaming because it makes the
dreamer proud and pretentious. Those who dream of this idealized community demand that it be
fulfilled by God, by others, and by themselves. They enter the community of Christians with their
demands, set up their own law, and judge one another and even God accordingly. They stand adamant,
a living reproach to all others in the Christian community, as if their visionary ideal binds the people
together. Whatever does not go their way, they call a failure. When their idealized image is shattered,
they see the community breaking to pieces. So they first become accusers of other Christians in the
community, then accusers of God, and finally the desperate accusers of themselves.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer -
from Life Together 35-36
from A Year with Dietric Bonhoeffer Carla Barnhill, Ed., HarperSan Francisco, 2005


The Gift of Community
Because God already has laid the only foundation of our community, because God has united us in one
body with other Christians in Jesus Christ long before we entered into common life with them, we enter
into that life together with other Christians, not as those who make demands, but as those who
thankfully receive. We thank God for what God has done for us. We thank God for giving us other
Christians who live by God's call, forgiveness, and promise. We do not complain about what God does
not give us; rather we are thankful for what God does give us daily. And is not what has been given
enough: other believers who will go on living with us through sin and need under the blessing of God's
grace? Is the gift any less immeasureably great than this on any given day, even on the most difficult
and distressing days of a Christian community?
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer -
from Life Together 36
from A Year with Dietrich Bonhoeffer Carla Barnhill, Ed., HarperSan Francisco, 2005








No comments: