Today’s Scriptures Click the following links to read today’s scriptures or scroll to the very bottom of this blog post for those scriptures also. Lectionary Scriptures for the day selected by http://www.commontexts.org/
Leviticus 19:1-4, 32-37 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus%2019:1-4,%2032-37&version=MSG
What Would Bonhoeffer Do? (WWBD) 071313
The past several weeks I’ve had the chance to read extensively. It is a rare opportunity and one I’ve hoped for, for years. When one is raising chidren, and working too many hours a week to take care of a family the opportunities to sit and read in a focused quiet manner are few. Children, thank God, are noisy and usually happy, and the worries of work and money always seem to intrude.
But I’ve had a chance to sit back, put my feet up and read uninterrupted for hours at a time. The extensive writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer engaged me long ago, and when the opportunity came to read and think in a focused manner I took it.
By way of background, Bonhoeffer was a German theologian at a time when the words ‘German’ and ‘theologian’ didn’t fit together so well prior to World War II. The vast majority of Bonhoeffer’s peers and contemporaries swore allegiance to the Nazi Church, which included swearing allegiance to Adolf Hitler.
Bonhoeffer refused to swear the oath of allegiance and began preaching against persecution of the Jews, intellectuals, Gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally disabled and everyone else that the Nazi’s decided were not ‘pure German’. Several friends persuaded Bonhoeffer to flee, first to England, and then to the United States.
But Bonhoeffer returned to German, knowning it would expose him personally to certain danger. Eventually, Bonhoeffer was arrested and sent to a concentration camp. He was executed by hanging just days before Allied troops liberated the death camp.
But my question, and the title of today’s blog is what would Bonhoeffer do in today’s political environment? I realize many of us are accustomed to expecting our discipleship to exempt us from national and world politics, but we have to remember that when Jesus went to Jerusalem and to the temple it was to challenge the religious authority that was there (‘the priest’) and the Roman Imperial government that also sat in authority at the temple. The temple was both the headquarters of religion and the headquarters of the government. Jesus walked into the middle of that whole mess, spoke his truth, and was executed.
In our world today, what would Bonhoeffer say about the persecution of minorities in the world? What would Jesus say and do? Have we ever, as an invading people ever provided God’s love and justice to Native Americans, to Hispanic immigrants and others, and to the economically disadvantaged in our midst?
We all know that Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation about 160 years ago, so why aren’t racial minorities an equal part of this society? Why does racial injustice continue?
Bonhoeffer was very clear that the church of Jesus was to live in community and to include in that community those in need of God’s justice—just exactly as God has given us justice. In fact, for Bonhoeffer, church means creating a community for the protection and care of the weak and oppressed.
My goodness, what has happened to the church? If we took a survey, I’d bet we could find more church resources being spent on new pew cushions, new air conditioning systems, and new technology for ‘churches’ than is spent on the poor. We’re in serious trouble with God, I think, if we expect to ride to heaven on a comfortable butt-pad, in a climate controlled environment. We are more likely to enter heaven on our knees, while carrying the poor on our backs.
Please feel free to pass this blog around. I really would be heartbroken about the failure of the church, were it not for Bonhoeffer and Jesus.
Pray for peace,
Prayer List: Peace Mennonite Church keeps a prayer list for those in need. If you need prayer, or want to e-mail our pastor, e-mail billd @ peacemennonitechurch.net (Take out the extra spaces to use this e-mail—the spaces confuse spam generators).
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The Message (MSG)
A David Psalm
25 1-2 My head is high, God, held high;
I’m looking to you, God;
No hangdog skulking for me.
3 I’ve thrown in my lot with you;
You won’t embarrass me, will you?
Or let my enemies get the best of me?
Don’t embarrass any of us
Who went out on a limb for you.
It’s the traitors who should be humiliated.
4 Show me how you work, God;
School me in your ways.
5 Take me by the hand;
Lead me down the path of truth.
You are my Savior, aren’t you?
6 Mark the milestones of your mercy and love, God;
Rebuild the ancient landmarks!
7 Forget that I sowed wild oats;
Mark me with your sign of love.
Plan only the best for me, God!
8 God is fair and just;
He corrects the misdirected,
Sends them in the right direction.
9 He gives the rejects his hand,
And leads them step-by-step.
10 From now on every road you travel
Will take you to God.
Follow the Covenant signs;
Read the charted directions.
The Message (MSG)
“I Am God, Your God”
19 1-2 God spoke to Moses: “Speak to the congregation of Israel. Tell them, Be holy because I, God, your God, am holy.
3 “Every one of you must respect his mother and father.
“Keep my Sabbaths. I am God, your God.
4 “Don’t take up with no-god idols. Don’t make gods of cast metal. I am God, your God.
The Message (MSG)
32 “Show respect to the aged; honor the presence of an elder; fear your God. I am God.
33-34 “When a foreigner lives with you in your land, don’t take advantage of him. Treat the foreigner the same as a native. Love him like one of your own. Remember that you were once foreigners in Egypt. I am God, your God.
35-36 “Don’t cheat when measuring length, weight, or quantity. Use honest scales and weights and measures. I am God, your God. I brought you out of Egypt.
37 “Keep all my decrees and all my laws. Yes, do them. I am God.”
The Message (MSG)
16-18 “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.
19-21 “This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.”
- Bonhoeffer on the Church-splitting PCUSA Conflict (rebntx.wordpress.com)
- Bonhoeffer: “Costly Grace” (lifeondoverbeach.wordpress.com)
- Bonhoeffer and the Two Kingdoms (calvinistinternational.com)
- Collected Thoughts on Dawkins, Bonhoeffer, and Efron (alexandermachine.wordpress.com)