Thursday, September 08, 2005


So with just two days of classes complete, I am diving head first into my third-to-last term of seminary.  For my Church and Sacraments class we are reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer's classic, Life Together.  If you haven't read this book I highly recommend you get it.  It is a small book, only about 130 pages, and full of brilliant insights.  One of the things I really like about Bonhoeffer is that he doesn't screw around and try and make you feel good about yourself like so many preachers (including myself!!) do.  Case in point, first page:
So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of the cloistered life but in the thick of foes.  There is his commission and his work.  The Kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies.  And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people.  O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ!  If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared (Luther)
In my sermons I'm still warming up the congregation by the point that Bonhoeffer has accused them of blasphemy!  After that opening, Bonehoeffer brings it down a bit, still being direct and honest, but using more the voice of the pastor rather than the voice of the prophet outlines the different elements that he believes should be apart of the Christian fellowship, namely, worship.  His most interesting section (in my mind) is the importance of praying the psalms.  He makes the point that the Psalms are both the Word of God and the Word of men (although some Psalms could have been written by women, we really don't know).  But one of the issues is whether or not Christians can pray the Psalms that protest against God with claims of innocence and righteousness.  Bonhoeffer's answer is yes, because those are the prayers of Jesus Christ, the innocent and righteous one.  He also points out that even if a particular Psalm is not your prayer, it is the prayer of someone within the Christian community, and therefore we pray on their behalf.  This is a really powerful practice in my own experience.  Often when I get to a lament Psalm I will pray it specifically for someone who I know who is having a hard time or as a prayer specifically for something that I'm aware of (for example, pray on behalf of the poor of the world, those under oppression, etc.)  I was reading farther but fell asleep last night, despite the caffeine from my coke so I didn't get any farther.


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