Lectionary Scriptures and Comments

Posts tagged ‘Dietrich Bonhoeffer’

What Would Bonhoeffer Do? (WWBD) 071313

Westminster Abbey, West Door, Four of the ten ...

Westminster Abbey, West Door, Four of the ten 20th Century- Mother Elizabeth of Russia, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Archbishop Oscar Romero, and Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Dietrich-Bonhoeffer-Kirche Lindenthal, Cologne...

Dietrich-Bonhoeffer-Kirche Lindenthal, Cologne, Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

This blog comes to you from the people at Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

www.peacemennonitechurch.net

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/

Psalm 25:1-10 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%2025:1-10&version=MSG

Leviticus 19:1-4, 32-37 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus%2019:1-4,%2032-37&version=MSG

John 3:16-21 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%203:16-21&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,

Pastor Bill

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).

Pray with us!

We are praying as a church, and attempting to follow the centuries’ old tradition of praying with other Christians three times a day. We are following the prayer liturgy at www.commonprayer.net

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO Permission is granted for one-time non-commercial use with proper attribution.

Subscribe to our blog! Delivery daily by e-mail. Click the button on the right.

Psalm 25:1-10

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.

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.

Show me how you work, God;
School me in your ways.

Take me by the hand;
Lead me down the path of truth.
You are my Savior, aren’t you?

Mark the milestones of your mercy and love, God;
Rebuild the ancient landmarks!

Forget that I sowed wild oats;
Mark me with your sign of love.
Plan only the best for me, God!

God is fair and just;
He corrects the misdirected,
Sends them in the right direction.

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.

Leviticus 19:1-4

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.

“Every one of you must respect his mother and father.

“Keep my Sabbaths. I am God, your God.

“Don’t take up with no-god idols. Don’t make gods of cast metal. I am God, your God.

Leviticus 19:32-37

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.”

John 3:16-21

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.”

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The Prayer Book of the Bible 060813

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This blog comes to you from the

people at Peace Mennonite

Church of Columbia, MO

www.peacemennonitechurch.net

 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/

 Psalm 30 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%2030&version=MSG

2 Samuel 14:25-33 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Samuel%2014:25-33%20&version=MSG

 Matthew 9:2-8       http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%209:2-8&version=MSG

The Prayer Book of the Bible 060813

The last few days I’ve been reading from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible.  Whenever I read something by Bonhoeffer, I am struck how he can speak so simply and without pretense strike to the heart of a matter. As a result I’ve been reading the Psalms, or rather praying the Psalms.

I’m doing it randomly and letting my eyes fall upon whatever Psalm my Bible falls open to, then praying through, reading it aloud slowly.  I encourage us to do this daily, or even more often, and for just a few minutes become totally absorbed by the Holy Spirit. It is not something we do—it is something we let.

 Yes, for a few moments a day, we should let go, and breathe

deeply. And pray the Psalms.

 Pray for world peace,

Pastor Bill

 

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).

Pray with us!

We are praying as a church, and attempting

to follow the centuries’ old tradition of praying with other Christians three

times a day. We are following the prayer liturgy at www.commonprayer.net

 Copyright

2011. All rights reserved. Peace Mennonite Church

of Columbia, MO

Permission is granted for one-time non-commercial use with proper attribution.

 

Psalm 137

Psalm 137 (Photo credit: Mouse)

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Psalm 30

The Message (MSG)

A David Psalm

30 I

give you all the credit, God

    you got me out of that mess,

    you didn’t let my foes gloat.

2-3 God, my God, I yelled for help

    and you put me together.

God, you pulled me out of the grave,

    gave me another chance at life

    when I was down-and-out.

4-5 All you saints!

Sing your hearts out to God!

    Thank him to his face!

He gets angry once in a while, but across

    a lifetime there is only love.

The nights of crying your eyes out

    give way to days of laughter.

6-7 When things

were going great

    I crowed, “I’ve got it made.

I’m God’s favorite.

    He made me king of the mountain.”

Then you looked the other way

    and I fell to pieces.

8-10 I called

out to you, God;

    I laid my case before you:

“Can you sell me for a profit when I’m dead?

    auction me off at a cemetery yard sale?

When I’m ‘dust to dust’ my songs

    and stories of you won’t sell.

So listen! and be kind!

    Help me out of this!”

11-12 You did

it: you changed wild lament

    into whirling dance;

You ripped off my black mourning band

    and decked me with wildflowers.

I’m about to burst with song;

    I can’t keep quiet about you.

God, my God,

    I can’t thank you enough.

2 Samuel 14:25-33

The Message (MSG)

25-27 This Absalom!

There wasn’t a man in all Israel talked about so much for his handsome good

looks—and not a blemish on him from head to toe! When he cut his hair—he always

cut it short in the spring because it had grown so heavy—the weight of the hair

from his head was over two pounds! Three sons were born to Absalom, and one

daughter. Her name was Tamar—and she was a beauty.

28-31 Absalom lived in Jerusalem for two years, and not once did he see the king face-to-face. He sent for Joab to get him in to see the king, but Joab still wouldn’t budge. He tried a second time and Joab still wouldn’t. So he told his servants, “Listen. Joab’s field adjoins mine, and he has a crop of barley in it. Go set fire to it.” SoAbsalom’s servants set fire to the field. That got him moving—Joab came to Absalom at home and said, “Why did your servants set my field on fire?”

32 Absalom answered him, “Listen, I sent for you saying, ‘Come, and soon. I want to send you to the king to ask,“What’s the point of my coming back from Geshur? I’d be better off still there!” Let me see the king face-to-face. If he finds me guilty, then he can put me to death.’”

33 Joab went to the king and told him what was going on. Absalom was then summoned—he came and bowed deeply in reverence before him. And the king kissed Absalom.

Matthew 9:2-8

The Message (MSG)

Who Needs a Doctor?

1-3 Back in the boat, Jesus and the disciples recrossed the sea to Jesus’ hometown. They were hardly out of the boat when some men carried a paraplegic on a stretcher and set him down in front of them. Jesus, impressed by their bold belief, said to the paraplegic, “Cheer up, son. I forgive your sins.” Some religion scholars whispered, “Why, that’s blasphemy!”

4-8 Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, “Why this gossipy whispering? Which do you think is simpler: to say, ‘I forgive your sins,’ or, ‘Get up and walk’? Well, just so it’s clear that I’m the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both. . . .” At this he turned to the paraplegic and said, “Get up. Take your bed and go home.” And the man did it. The crowd was awestruck, amazed and pleased that God had authorized Jesus to work among them this way.

The Death of Dietrich Bonhoeffer 040913

Holocaust Memorial 1

Holocaust Memorial 1 (Photo credit: JMC Photos)

Yellow badge Star of David called "Judens...

Yellow badge Star of David called “Judenstern”. Part of the exhibition in the Jewish Museum Westphalia, Dorsten, Germany. The wording is the German word for Jew (Jude), written in mock-Hebrew script. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Psalm 137

Psalm 137 (Photo credit: Mouse)

Jew Street

Jew Street (Photo credit: JP..)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 The Death of Dietrich Bonhoeffer 040913

This blog comes to you from the people at Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO

www.peacemennonitechurch.net

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/

Psalm 53 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%2053&version=MSG

Leviticus 25:1-19 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus%2025:1-19%20&version=MSG

Revelation 19:9-10 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation%2019:9-10&version=MSG

The Death of Dietrich Bonhoeffer 040913

Sixty-eight years ago today the German theologian, pastor, musician, writer, poet, spy and political prisoner Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed by hanging in Flossenburg Prison, Germany by his Nazi captors.

It is no cause for celebration certainly, and as to remembrance, we should remember the millions of Jews, dissidents, Russian peasants, and millions of people worldwide who also died in shame, in pain, in a state of injustice like the Pastor Bonhoeffer.

Today I watched a video of the aftermath of a Syrian jet bombing a village of its own people. The video, produced by PBS‘ Turning Point held nothing back. It showed survivors of the jet’s bombs carrying dead or badly injured children away from piles of rubble that had been their homes. Fresh blood ran down their foreheads and cheeks; blood spurted from their mouths. One boy was hysterical about his uncle and grandparents who had just disappearance under tons of stones and bricks. “My uncle, my uncle! My grandparents are dead!” He was comforted by the men gathered around, who kissed him on the head, held him in affection, and began to cry with the boy who in a second had lost all his family.

While remembering Bonhoeffer and the senselessness of his execution by Nazis, we also should, in his honor, remember the helpless, the defenseless, the suffering, the poor and the hungry and the orphaned that are with us now. The senselessness of the helpless continues, and if we want to evangelize, it should be with the love and care that we expect Jesus to provide for us.

As Bonhoeffer may have thought, how can we prevent this HOLOCAUST?

Pray for peace, and prevent our modern holocausts.

Pastor Bill

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).

Pray with us!

We are praying as a church, and attempting to follow the centuries’ old tradition of praying with other Christians three times a day. We are following the prayer liturgy at www.commonprayer.net

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO Permission is granted for one-time non-commercial use with proper attribution.

Subscribe to our blog!Delivery daily by e-mail.Click the button on the right.

Psalm 53

The Message (MSG)

A David Psalm

53 1-2 Bilious and bloated, they gas,
“God is gone.”
It’s poison gas—
they foul themselves, they poison
Rivers and skies;
thistles are their cash crop.
God sticks his head out of heaven.
He looks around.
He’s looking for someone not stupid—
one man, even, God-expectant,
just one God-ready woman.

3 He comes up empty. A string
of zeros. Useless, unshepherded
Sheep, taking turns pretending
to be Shepherd.
The ninety and nine
follow the one.

4 Don’t they know anything,
all these impostors?
Don’t they know
they can’t get away with this,
Treating people like a fast-food meal
over which they’re too busy to pray?

5 Night is coming for them, and nightmare—
a nightmare they’ll never wake up from.
God will make hash of these squatters,
send them packing for good.

6 Is there anyone around to save Israel?
God turns life around.
Turned-around Jacob skips rope,
turned-around Israel sings laughter.

Leviticus 25:1-22

The Message (MSG)

“The Land Will Observe a Sabbath to God”

25 1-7 God spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai: “Speak to the People of Israel. Tell them, When you enter the land which I am going to give you, the land will observe a Sabbath to God. Sow your fields, prune your vineyards, and take in your harvests for six years. But the seventh year the land will take a Sabbath of complete and total rest, a Sabbath to God; you will not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Don’t reap what grows of itself; don’t harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land gets a year of complete and total rest. But you can eat from what the land volunteers during the Sabbath year—you and your men and women servants, your hired hands, and the foreigners who live in the country, and, of course, also your livestock and the wild animals in the land can eat from it. Whatever the land volunteers of itself can be eaten.

“The Fiftieth Year Shall Be a Jubilee for You”

8-12 “Count off seven Sabbaths of years—seven times seven years: Seven Sabbaths of years adds up to forty-nine years. Then sound loud blasts on the ram’s horn on the tenth day of the seventh month, the Day of Atonement. Sound the ram’s horn all over the land. Sanctify the fiftieth year; make it a holy year. Proclaim freedom all over the land to everyone who lives in it—a Jubilee for you: Each person will go back to his family’s property and reunite with his extended family. The fiftieth year is your Jubilee year: Don’t sow; don’t reap what volunteers itself in the fields; don’t harvest the untended vines because it’s the Jubilee and a holy year for you. You’re permitted to eat from whatever volunteers itself in the fields.

13 “In this year of Jubilee everyone returns home to his family property.

14-17 “If you sell or buy property from one of your countrymen, don’t cheat him. Calculate the purchase price on the basis of the number of years since the Jubilee. He is obliged to set the sale price on the basis of the number of harvests remaining until the next Jubilee. The more years left, the more money; you can raise the price. But the fewer years left, the less money; decrease the price. What you are buying and selling in fact is the number of crops you’re going to harvest. Don’t cheat each other. Fear your God. I am God, your God.

18-22 “Keep my decrees and observe my laws and you will live secure in the land. The land will yield its fruit; you will have all you can eat and will live safe and secure. Do I hear you ask, ‘What are we going to eat in the seventh year if we don’t plant or harvest?’ I assure you, I will send such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough for three years. While you plant in the eighth year, you will eat from the old crop and continue until the harvest of the ninth year comes in.

Revelation 19:9-10

The Message (MSG)

9 The Angel said to me, “Write this: ‘Blessed are those invited to the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.’” He added, “These are the true words of God!”

10 I fell at his feet to worship him, but he wouldn’t let me. “Don’t do that,” he said. “I’m a servant just like you, and like your brothers and sisters who hold to the witness of Jesus. The witness of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

It Takes Two to Tango 060912

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

This blog comes to you from the people at Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO

Tango Boca

Tango Boca (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

www.peacemennonitechurch.net

 

It Takes Two to Tango 060912

with a second short discussion of a Dietrich Bonhoeffer study.

Of course it takes two to tango. A single person dancing half of a tango, is just engaged in a silly dance.

For Jesus, in John 7, perhaps he might have thought ‘It takes two to tango’, if the tango had been invented by then, and the phrase also. Maybe Jesus was thinking ‘If this woman was caught in the act of adultery, where is the man?’ Surely, it does take two to tango, and why exactly is the woman the one who is an adulteress, but we lack stories of their male counterpart.

And here’s the difference that Jesus saw between law and justice. The law would be correct in condemning her as an adulteress, but justice says it is wrong to condemn her, because we are not also condemning the male adulterer.

Justice also demands that we are limited in our ability to judge, and condemnation is not just. Instead, justice demands forgiveness of all, and a path of peace to prevent future harm, rather than the condemnation of the law.

I pray today we learn how to be just, to not judge any other, and to learn to dance the tango. I’m joking about the tango.

Pray for peace

brother Bill

 

About Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

A German reformed minister, who opposed Hitler and the Nazis from the pulpit and everywhere else, he was arrested, sentenced to death by hanging, and held until the days just preceding the end of World War II.

I’ve been receiving e-mails from www.biblegateway.com each morning with 2 or 3 paragraphs from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s writings, which are amazing. I think the ‘study’ last 40 days, and you can catch up also.

 

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).

Pray with us!

We are praying as a church, and attempting to follow the centuries’ old tradition of praying with other Christians three times a day. We are following the prayer liturgy at www.commonprayer.net

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO Permission is granted for one-time non-commercial use with proper attribution.

Scriptures follow the meditation and thoughts. Scriptures for the day selected by http://www.commontexts.org/

 

Subscribe to our blog! Delivery daily by e-mail. Click the button on the right.

Psalm 103:1-13, 22

Ezekiel 16:53-63

John 7:53—8:11

 

Psalm 103

1Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

2Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits—

3who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,

4who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,

5who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

6The Lord works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed.

7He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.

8The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

9He will not always accuse, nor will he keep his anger forever.

10He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.

11For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

12as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.

13As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.

22Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul.

Ezekiel 16:53-63

53I will restore their fortunes, the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters and the fortunes of Samaria and her daughters, and I will restore your own fortunes along with theirs, 54in order that you may bear your disgrace and be ashamed of all that you have done, becoming a consolation to them. 55As for your sisters, Sodom and her daughters shall return to their former state, Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former state, and you and your daughters shall return to your former state. 56Was not your sister Sodom a byword in your mouth in the day of your pride, 57before your wickedness was uncovered? Now you are a mockery to the daughters of Aram and all her neighbors, and to the daughters of the Philistines, those all around who despise you. 58You must bear the penalty of your lewdness and your abominations, says the Lord. 59Yes, thus says the Lord God: I will deal with you as you have done, you who have despised the oath, breaking the covenant;

60yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish with you an everlasting covenant. 61Then you will remember your ways, and be ashamed when I take your sisters, both your elder and your younger, and give them to you as daughters, but not on account of my covenant with you. 62I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, 63in order that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I forgive you all that you have done, says the Lord God.

John 7:53—8:11

53Then each of them went home,

8while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. 3The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, 4they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. 5Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


 

Reading a Good Book for Lent 030912

Russian icon of St. Athanasius the Athonite (S...

Image via Wikipedia

 

This blog comes to you from the people at Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO

www.peacemennonitechurch.net

 

Reading a Good Book for Lent 030912

I decided it was time to start a new book for my daily reading besides the Bible, that is.

I am looking for a book that will bring me closer to God, and closer to Jesus for the season of Lent. I realize Lent is a man made holiday season, but we have to remember that holidays are HOLY-Days.

I tend to look for books that expand my sense of what it means to be a Christian disciple. I fear that the ‘modern church’, whatever that is, has taken a suggestion from modern media experts and tried to simplify or worse abbreviate the experience of a Christian disciple. I think that the relationship between God and man is so much more diverse and wonderful than any normal Sunday morning preacher normally discusses, and sometimes a simple direct sellable notion of who God and Jesus are to us has become predominant in the world’s Christian churches. Modern Christianity may be more sellable or saleable (capable of being sold—you know what I mean) but is also more flat, has less passion and doesn’t cause us to sell all we have and follow him.

So, for Lent, as part of one’s efforts to deepen the relationship with God and Jesus, I’m seeking a new book to read. Luckily, we have so many (neglected) books and writers. On my bookshelf are books by Thomas Merton, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Meister Eckhart, Hildegard de Bingen, and other writers. Luckily, the works of older writers may be online for free and all these writers are at the library for free (this makes old German skinflints very happy). The book called The Life of Anthony by Athanaius (313 AD)

 

is available free at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf204.xvi.ii.i.html

and could be a good choice for Lent reading.

As and result, we should consider that some human institutions may not encourage us to learn and be all we can be as disciples of Christ. After all, what happens to our Facebook account if we go barefoot, wear long robes and walk a great deal?

As Romans 8 says today:  38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 For Lent, look at human institutions that may be keeping you from God, like the church for instance, or the media, or the….

Pray for the health of your relationship with God, and each other. Pray for this peace.

Bill

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).

Pray with us!

We are praying as a church, and attempting to follow the centuries’ old tradition of praying with other Christians three times a day. We are following the prayer liturgy at www.commonprayer.net

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO Permission is granted for one-time non-commercial use with proper attribution.

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Psalm 81:1-10

Leviticus 23:1-8

Romans 8:31-39

Psalm 81

1Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob.

2Raise a song, sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp.

3Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our festal day.

4For it is a statute for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob.

5He made it a decree in Joseph, when he went out over the land of Egypt. I hear a voice I had not known:

6“I relieved your shoulder of the burden; your hands were freed from the basket.

7In distress you called, and I rescued you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Selah

8Hear, O my people, while I admonish you; O Israel, if you would but listen to me!

9There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not bow down to a foreign god.

10I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.

Leviticus 23:1-8

23The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: These are the appointed festivals of the Lord that you shall proclaim as holy convocations, my appointed festivals. 3Six days shall work be done; but the seventh day is a sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation; you shall do no work: it is a sabbath to the Lord throughout your settlements.

4These are the appointed festivals of the Lord, the holy convocations, which you shall celebrate at the time appointed for them. 5In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight, there shall be a passover offering to the Lord, 6and on the fifteenth day of the same month is the festival of unleavened bread to the Lord; seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. 7On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not work at your occupations. 8For seven days you shall present the Lord’s offerings by fire; on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation: you shall not work at your occupations.

Romans 8:31-39

31What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? 33Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. 35Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

 

The Cost of Discipleship 042411

Bonhoeffer-1932

Image via Wikipedia

The Cost of Discipleship

042411 Easter Sermon

Mk 14:32-42

32They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. 34And he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.” 35And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36He said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” 37He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? 38Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. 41He came a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.”

  1. The Cost of Discipleship

This morning’s message comes to us by way of the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, whose book ‘The Cost of Discipleship’ provided me with the background for today’s message. I’ve included a footnote in the bulletin that refers to the book and also a web link to a biography of Pastor Bonhoeffer.

  1. Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born in Germany in 1906 and studied theology both in Germany and in New York, at Union Seminary. He served as a pastor in Germany, London and in the United States. He had left Germany in 1939, fleeing the Gestapo who were hounding him, and took at teaching job at Union Seminary, but immediately returned to Germany to be there for the struggle against the Nazi’s. In October, 1940 Bonhoeffer Gestapo surveillance and traveled throughout Europe raising money for the Nazi resistance.

In early 1943, the Gestapo had traced large sums of money to Bonhoeffer, his sister and brother-in-law who were smuggling Jews to Switzerland, providing the resistance with information and assisted in the long-term plot to depose Hitler and end the war.

He, his sister and brother-in-law were arrested by the Gestapo in 1943 and eventually sent to Buchenwald in 1945, where he was hanged shortly before the Allies liberated the death camp.

While in prison Bonhoeffer continued to minister to fellow death camp prisoners until each’s execution, and then his own. His guards became his friends even, and smuggled his letters from prison out to the world.

  1. Grace—

We ended last week’s sermon and service with this question. We had been talking about what it means and what it feels like to be a Christian disciple. Sometimes people mention exhilaration, or peace, or calm, or assurance. I often feel as though I’m walking through life 6 inches off the ground.

These feelings, along with the clear and perceived feeling of being forgiven and loved by God are what we call grace. Grace is freely given from God; we cannot earn it, or bargain for it, grace is not part of a business transaction. It is always a freely given gift from God. It is difficult to always remember this, because we are used to trying to earn everything, or to act so as to have a certain ownership and security in everything. Receiving something freely given, and something we can never earn or deserve is very difficult and we may find ourselves falling back into a pattern of doing something for God to guarantee our prayers our answered and we get what we ask for….etc

But our question from last week was….what of being a disciple was not pleasurable, not motivating, not exhilarating? What if being a disciple meant suffering. We have this week the example of Jesus suffering because of his belief. What if we also are bound to suffer because of our own discipleship?

Bonhoeffer’s idea about grace goes something like this: As Christianity spread, the church became more ‘secularized’, accommodating the demands of obedience to Jesus to the demands of society. In this way the world, or the western world, became Christianized and grace became its common property, so that grace and salvation became common property. The hazard of this was that the gospel became cheapened and obedience to the living Christ was gradually lost beneath formula and ritual, so that in the end grace could be sold for monetary gain, and grace has been sold actually during the history of the church. For a tithe, you can receive grace.

At the same time, there continued a living protest against this secular movement: the monastic movement, where the older vision of discipleship was kept alive. But monasticism was seen as only an individual achievement in rare circumstances and not something expected of common laity like you and me. We as individuals were not expected to give away all we own and follow Jesus like a monk or nun. Instead, the church had ‘specialists’ the monks and nuns who carried forward the original vision of discipleship.

  1. Cheap Grace

Bonehoeffer reffered to this watered down version of secularized discipleship as ‘cheap grace’. In Bonhoeffer’s words ‘cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness withour requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.’

What these words call us to is to move beyond cheap grace, beyond the secularized church and move back to the original church, the church of disciples.

  1. Discipleship

Sometimes we hear the gospel preached as ‘Of course you have sinned, but now everything is forgiven, so you can stay as you are and enjoy the consolations of forgiveness’. The problem with this proclamation is that is contains no demand for discipleship. In contrast with this is costly grace:

From Bonhoeffer again:

‘costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. It is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light’.

One may ask ‘if I become a disciple of Jesus, not just ‘saved’ but a real disciple of Jesus, what will I have to do? Will I have to sell my Porsche and give money to the poor, or sell my investments and give the money to the poor or to the church?’

Well, I can’t say and it’s not my place to say. We all get accustomed to what we think discipleship looks like—like we all must dress in black and drive buggies, or stand on street corners and give out pamphlets, or something. But that is doing what we have decided it is best to do and it is not what we have individually been told by Jesus.

Instead, discipleship is not deciding any more. It is giving up control of your life and soul to God, and becoming an obedient disciple. Jesus asks that we follow his commandments, not follow a set of rules that applied to Pharisees or Sadducees two thousand years ago.  So, our old notions of what is expected of disciples cannot be reduced to a set of specific rules of ‘do and don’t’.

Instead, discipleship means first to enter into a spiritual relationship with Jesus and with God, and develop that relationship over a period of time. It means allow the spirit of Christ to grow in your life, and small step by small step listening for what God wants of your life.

Bonhoeffer makes the surprising observation that when the world suffers, when humankind suffers, God also suffers. God suffers the plight of earth and humankind. Jesus also, we know, this Easter morning, suffered and died. Jesus was executed because he spoke the truth to power. If we as disciples are obedient and speak the truth to the suffering of the earth and of humankind, we also will suffer, if God commands us to do so. Discipleship is not just about feeling great as a saved Christian, it is to also to suffer with those suffering and doing the will of God.

  1. Spiritual Formation

We’ve focused often in our church here about spiritual formation, so we don’t just talk about what Jesus did, and what the disciples did, or didn’t do. We also try to bring this all back home to us, and learn what this means to our spiritual formation as individual disciples.

First, do we want to be disciples of Jesus? It is voluntary. I think it was voluntary for Jesus even. Recall our scripture for this morning—recall Jesus pleading with God in prayer for God to take this cup from him. In other words, Jesus was praying ‘God, I don’t want to die on the cross. But I will if you want me to….’ Jesus is submitting his will to God—even at this late hour, Jesus is a volunteer—he is a willing, voluntary disciple and not bund by God or fate to die.

If we also want to become disciples of Christ, real, costly grace type disciples, then we need to first, develop a relationship with God and Jesus in prayer, and see how it flows daily into our lives. Then, as we listen to God, we begin to become real disciples who are obedient to God and Jesus, and disciples who seek to relieve God of a suffering humankind, and a suffering world. We begin to seek, as we are directed, to bring the Kingdom of God, a universe without suffering, to reality on earth.

As Mennonite Christians and as disciples it becomes our life’s work to bring this Kingdom of God to this place and time. We all share in this Kingdom, but we share the work, the suffering and death even to bring joy and glory to all of existence.

Let us pray.

Heavenly Father, Heavenly Mother, Lord, we are just beginners in this path of learning about Jesus and learning about you Lord God. Help us as we seek to become obedient diciples, and help us as we learn to say in our hearts ‘Not my will Lord, but your will be done. Amen

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