The grace of the gospel, which is so hard for the pious to comprehend, confronts us with the truth. It says to us, you are a sinner, a great, unholy sinner. Now come, as the sinner that you are, to your God who loves you. For God wants you as you are, not desiring anything from you - a sacrifice, a good deed - but rather desiring you alone. "My child, give me your heart" (Prov. 23:26). God has come to you to make the sinner blessed. Rejoice! This message is liberation through truth. You cannot hide from God. The mask you wear in the presence of other people won't get you anywhere in the presence of God. God wants to see you as you are, wants to be gracious to you. You do not have to go on lying to yourself and to other Christians as if you were without sin. You are allowed to be a sinner. Thank God for that. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer - from Life Together 108 from A Year with Dietrich Bonhoeffer Carla Barnhill, Ed., HarperSan Francisco, 2005
We don't know what to do or say in the midst of what seems like a world gone mad. As friends, neighbors and co-workers ask the question, "What is going on in our world,?" this statement by Bishop Hanson states it eloquently.
April 16, 2007 ELCA Presiding Bishop's Statement on Virginia Tech Tragedy With the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) community and the nation, we mourn, we pray, and with the Psalmist we plead: "Out of the depths, I cry to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice!" (Psalm 130:1) As family and friends grieve the deaths and injuries of loved ones, we claim the promise of Christ's Resurrection. Campus ministries, congregations and leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are offering support and spiritual care to the local community. Through the deep wounds of this tragedy, let us renew our resolve to live together in peace. "Holy One, you do not distance yourself from the pain of your people, but in Jesu…
Henri Nouwen hit the nail on the head when he wrote this:
Reading Spiritually About Spiritual Things
Reading often means gathering information, acquiring new insight and knowledge, and mastering a new field. It can lead us to degrees, diplomas, and certificates. Spiritual reading, however, is different. It means not simply reading about spiritual things but also reading about spiritual things in a spiritual way. That requires a willingness not just to read but to be read, not just to master but to be mastered by words. As long as we read the Bible or a spiritual book simply to acquire knowledge, our reading does not help us in our spiritual lives. We can become very knowledgeable about spiritual matters without becoming truly spiritual people. As we read spiritually about spiritual things, we open our hearts to God's voice. Sometimes we must be willing to put down the book we are reading and just listen to what God is saying to us through its words.
Easter is not just one day for the Christian or the church. In the Lutheran tradition, Easter is 50 days, until Pentecost. He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Take a look at this meditation from Bonhoeffer. This is how we live the life, realizing we are all simultaneously saints and sinners.
The Pious Community
"Confess your sins to one another" (James 5:16). Those who remain alone with their evil are left utterly alone. It is possible that Christians may remain lonely in spite of daily worship together, prayer together, and all their community through service - that the final breakthrough to community does not occur precisely because they enjoy community with one another as pious believers, but not with one another as those lacking piety, as sinners. For the pious community permits no one to be a sinner. Hence all have to conceal their sins from themselves and from the community. We are not allowed to be sinners. Many Christians would be unimaginably horrified if a real…