Tag Archives: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Praying For One Another

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“A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses. I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community

We lay people need to pray for our Pastor and for each other.  I have found, like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, that in praying for someone my feelings about them transform.  Often God reveals something that shows me I have been misjudging or misunderstanding them.  Prayer is an important ministry of the laity;  we are never too old, too young, too ill, or too ignorant to pray.  It is such a simple gift we can give others, and one we often neglect.

 

 

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Piety

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“God travels wonderful ways with human beings, but he does not comply with the views and opinions of people. God does not go the way that people want to prescribe for him; rather, his way is beyond all comprehension, free and self-determined beyond all proof. Where reason is indignant, where our nature rebels, where our piety anxiously keeps us away: that is precisely where God loves to be. There he confounds the reason of the reasonable; there he aggravates our nature, our piety—that is where he wants to be, and no one can keep him from it. Only the humble believe him and rejoice that God is so free and so marvelous that he does wonders where people despair, that he takes what is little and lowly and makes it marvelous. And that is the wonder of all wonders, that God loves the lowly…. God is not ashamed of the lowliness of human beings. God marches right in. He chooses people as his instruments and performs his wonders where one would least expect them. God is near to lowliness; he loves the lost, the neglected, the unseemly, the excluded, the weak and broken.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas

Blessed Are the Merciful by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.’ These men without possessions or power, these strangers on Earth, these sinners, these followers of Jesus, have in their life with him renounced their own dignity, for they are merciful. As if their own needs and their own distress were not enough, they take upon themselves the distress and humiliation of others. They have an irresistible love for the down-trodden, the sick, the wretched, the wronged, the outcast and all who are tortured with anxiety. They go out and seek all who are enmeshed in the toils of sin and guilt. No distress is too great, no sin too appalling for their pity. If any man falls into disgrace, the merciful will sacrifice their own honour to shield him, and take his shame upon themselves.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Staying On Course–Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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“But to deviate from the truth for the sake of some prospect of hope of our own can never be wise, however slight that deviation may be.  It is not our judgement of the situation which can show us what is wise, but only the truth of the Word of God.  Here alone lies the promise of God’s faithfulness and help.  It will always be true that the wisest course for the disciple is always to abide solely by the Word of God in all simplicity.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

What is Spiritual Direction?

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I first heard the term “spiritual direction” when I attended  a Via de Cristo retreat weekend in 1990.  Spiritual direction was mentioned in a list of disciplines that could be helpful in increasing piety, but we received little information to explain what this discipline entailed, or how to go about doing it.  Being the curious person I am, I went back to my home congregation and asked my Pastor, “what is spiritual direction and are you my spiritual director?”  Turns out he didn’t really know either.  That started me on a journey that led to lots of reading and research, 5+ years of being a spiritual directee, and finally a two year program through Oasis Ministries called, “Spiritual Direction for Spiritual Guides” during which I had several directees of my own.  After all of this, I still found myself asking, “Exactly what is this thing called spiritual direction?”

Most Lutherans, like me, are unfamiliar with the idea of spiritual direction.  The closest concept in our tradition is probably “seelsorge,” or care of souls, which is regarded as part of the pastoral office.

Like other Christians, however, we Lutherans do want to explore and deepen our faith lives and we know that certain relationships with others help us do that. Even those who have not heard of “spiritual direction” are comfortable with the idea of having a spiritual friend or mentor.  Luther himself spoke of “the mutual conversation and consolation of the brethren.”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book, Life Together,  says:

“God has willed that we should seek and find His living word in the witness of a brother, in the mouth of man.  Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s word to him.  He needs him again and again when he becomes discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself …”

Simply put, spiritual direction is pointing another person toward God.  I believe the ability to do this is a charism, or spiritual gift and it often occurs naturally in the Christian community, sometimes without the individuals involved being fully aware of it.

Stay tuned for my next post about my own experiences in spiritual direction …..

Loving by Listening

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The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists of listening to them. Just as love of God begins with listening to his word, so the beginning of love for our brothers and sisters is learning to listen to them. —Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Music

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Music… will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Celebrating Christmas Correctly

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See the source imageI originally planned to simply post this quote, but I found it so challenging personally that I decided to blog about it.  I have to admit that Christmas is often a time when I want to impress others, at least a little.  There are those family members and friends I don’t see or hear from too often during the year so ….when we get together I’d like them to see me at my best.  I take care with how I look and what I wear, and even what I tell them about how my life is going.

Then there are the gifts …I prefer to be the giver, rather than humbly receiving.  I enjoy giving gifts and feeling generous.  Isn’t there some pride in this?  I don’t like others to see that I need them or what they have to offer.

What about food?  Instead of a simple meal together, Christmas has to be a feast … in fact, a series of feasts and parties and excess.  Through it all, I’m hoping that my culinary contributions will measure up and be appreciated as “the best.”

I can give myself a pass on decorating, probably because I simply don’t have that talent or inclination.  However, for many of us, it’s worthwhile to consider:  am I decorating to welcome the King?  Or to impress my visitors with ‘house beautiful’?

Jesus came on Christmas as a helpless infant.  He was born in a dirty stable to poor parents.  He left honor and glory behind to become one of us, one of the least of us… and why?  Simply out of love.  The least we can do is love others and receive His sacrifice in humility and grateful worship. I see clearly how things should be, but understanding it is much easier than living it.  Authors and readers have you found ways to celebrate Christmas correctly?  I’d like to hear some suggestions.

 

God Is In the Manger

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This quote is from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Book, “God Is In the Manger.” I’m planning to request it from our local library, so you may see a review later this month!

“Jesus stands at the door knocking (Rev. 3:20). In total reality, he comes in the form of the beggar, of the dissolute human child in ragged clothes, asking for help. He confronts you in every person that you meet. As long as there are people, Christ will walk the earth as your neighbor, as the one through whom God calls you, speaks to you, makes demands on you. That is the great seriousness and great blessedness of the Advent message. Christ is standing at the door; he lives in the form of a human being among us.”  

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Advent

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