Greetings Fellow Travelers,
"... for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see – such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on Herat by means of Christ’s blood on the cross. This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it. I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church. God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you".
As we remember the death of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, we remember the death of a martyr and a godly man that gave his life 63 years ago. He gave his life as a sacrificial offering in a battle between the supposed divinity and power of the German Nazi State and the true divinity of Jesus; a battle which was being fought for lordship over people and the state.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, at 39, led his ultimate celebration service on Sunday, April 8, 1945. Soon after, the Nazi guards summoned him, saying, “Prisoner Bonhoeffer, get ready and come with us”. All of the prisoners knew that this summons was the announcement of his execution. In that moment, Bonhoeffer spoke these last words heard by his friends, “This is the end – for me it is the beginning – of life”. The following day, in a tree that still stands today, Bonhoeffer was hung, leaving Schoenberg barely a week before that the allies freed that concentration camp.
While he was in jail, he himself did not permit his name to be written in the prayer book of the Confessing church of that time, since this church believed that his incarceration was not as worthy as that of those persecuted for exclusively religious reasons. Bonhoeffer was imprisoned for acting to conspire against Hitler and had tried to assassinate him. But 50 years after his death, protestant leaders around the world reversed this decision, stating that Bonhoeffer, like anyone who hungers and thirsts after Justice, gave his life in the fight against inhumanity, oppression, and the perversion of the human race.
Today, many of Bonhoeffer written works can be still found, such as: The Cost of Discipleship, Life Together, Letters and Papers from Prison, among others. Inspired by this “modern day saint”, it would serve us well to pray:
Gracious Lord, we ask that you allow us to look beyond ourselves when we only see the things in our own lives. We ask that you would grant us grace, like that of your servant Dietrich Bonhoeffer, to know and teach the truth as it was manifested in the life of Jesus Christ. We ask that we could bear the cost of following the Master. Allow us, strengthened by Bonhoeffer’s testimony and example, to be able to receive your Word and embrace your call with an undivided heart. In the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior who lives and reigns with your and with the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
At least that would be my prayer. We need to remember to pray for our brothers and sisters who are persecuted, and who fight for justice and who advocate for the sick. We need to remember to pray for ourselves, so comfortable (and lazy) that we honestly believe that we can serve the Lord in the midst of the tranquility and comfort of our churches – only disturbing our neighbors with the noise of our deafening worship music, but never disturbing the power structures of this world. I pray that our example would be so loud, that it would disturb far beyond those that hear us.