Tag Archives: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

No Time for Fear

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. — Isaiah 12:2

Read: Isaiah 12:2-6

Ponder:

“The overcoming of fear—that is what we are proclaiming here. The Bible, the gospel, Christ, the church, the faith—all are one great battle cry against fear in the lives of human beings. Fear is, somehow or other, the archen­emy itself. It crouches in people’s hearts. It hollows out their insides, until their resistance and strength are spent and they suddenly break down. Fear secretly gnaws and eats away at all the ties that bind a person to God and to others, and when in a time of need that person reaches for those ties and clings to them, they break and the individual sinks back into himself or herself, helpless and despairing, while hell rejoices.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer (from a sermon preached in Berlin, second Sunday after Epiphany, January 15, 1933)

Reflect:

Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Fiscal Cliff, the Mayan Calendar, disease, climate change, war–these words and many others conjure up feelings of fear and anxiety in most folks. Fear and anxiety curve us inward on ourselves and prevent us from experiencing fully the life God desires for us.

Now I’m not suggesting one throw wise, prudent behavior to the wind to follow pure impulse. Not at all. Rather, I believe that we simply cannot let fear corner us into inaction, hate, and avoidance. We can’t afford to turn our homes into little fortresses, ignoring our neighbors and opting out of community.

We serve a creative, relational God who both desires an active and full relationship with us and also intends for us to share such relationships with others. It is all too easy to let natural feelings of fear and anxiety that accompany tragedy to drive us apart and to create a wedge between us and God.

Don’t let that happen. Be defiant in the face of evil and loss. Step into the breach, reaching out to others and sharing the love and hope that is found in Christ. The world needs you, yes you, right now wherever you are. In these dark days, choose to reflect the light.

Thanks-Living:

Today consider writing one or more notes of encouragement and support to the schools in Newtown, Connecticut. Be that candle in the dark by showering a few words of love on those whose lives have been marred by this tragedy.

Newtown Public School District

3 Primrose Street

Newtown, CT 06470

 

Sandy Hook Elementary School

12 Dickinson Drive

Sandy Hook, CT 06482

(Photo by anaeastudio. Thanks!)

Thanks Enough

How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? 1 Thessalonians 3:9

Read: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

Ponder:

“For everything that lives is holy, life delights in life.” — William Blake

Reflect:

Committing to a life thanks-living means expressing thanks in all conditions and at all times. The apostle Paul knew a thing or two about being thankful in any situation. Even while imprisoned in Rome with an uncertain future, Paul still found time to give thanks for the communities he had helped to mentor on his missionary journeys.

The baser side of our human nature encourages us to think of what we do not have. Whatever is bad, sad, or ugly in our lives floats to the surface like toxic flotsam. It clouds the waters of our perception and prevents us from seeing all the blessings of God.

Today try to see the world through Paul’s eyes. If that doesn’t work for you, read some of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s work.  I recommend The Cost of Discipleship for starters. Click here to read excerpts. To read an inspiring story about finding the best in the worst of situations, click here to read the story of two men who forged a friendship from the ashes of anger and death. If your thoughts turn to the negative, take a deep breath and find something to praise or something for which to be thankful. Remember that you are where you are and who you thanks to the work, love, and sacrifice of many others, including Jesus who gives you life forever.

Thanks-Living:

Today make a list of people and things for which you are thankful. Give thanks to God for your many blessings. Call or write one person on your list to let them know that you prayed for them and give joyful thanks for them. Take delight in the life you have this day.

The Open Door

All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees. — Psalm 25:10

Read: Psalm 25-6-10

Ponder:

“A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes… and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent. ” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Reflect:

During the frenzied pace of these December days, remember that God’s love for you is steadfast. The Hebrew word in this psalm is chesed, and its meaning is so much deeper than our English translations convey. Chesed is a concept rooted in covenant language, in the understanding that God will not let God’s people go. That is good news for all of us, especially in a the world that seems to chew folks up and spit them out.

We are created to be in relationship with God,and the hole at the center of our being that we so often try to fill with all manner of stuff and nonsense can only be satisfied when we trust and dwell in God’s chesed. The psalmist understands this need, this spiritual thirst that can only be slaked when we align our wills, our hearts, and our actions with God’s intent for us.

It’s a funny thing how we humans lock ourselves in prisons of our own frivolous construction, putting up barriers between the One who loves us beyond measure. Even as we desire God, we push against the bonds of this great love. Even though we build the cell, lock the door, and throw away the key of freedom, we are still dependent upon the mercy and chesed of the LORD.

The season of Advent reminds us that God is coming again to set us free. In the birth of Jesus we recall and experience how intimately we are loved by the Creator. God cares so much about every fiber of our being and each molecule of creation that the WORD put on flesh and lived with us. God comes again to open the door to our hearts.

That’s not the end. The good news doesn’t stop there. God writes on our heart, placing deep within us the teachings and instructions that lead to abundant life. The LORD again and again shatters barriers and breaks down walls.

Don’t let the frenzy of this season lock the doors of your heart and fog the windows of your soul. God’s steadfast love is here to wrap you in love,  mercy, beauty and light–a veritable patchwork of grace. Breathe in. Open your eyes and hold out your hands. God is near. The door is open.

Thanks-Living:

Today take a few minutes to sit quietly and think about anything that threatens to separate you from living fully in the LORD’s chesed. Are you too frazzled, too busy, too stressed to be attentive to your covenant relationship with God? Resolve during this Advent time of preparation to remove one barrier so that the manger of your heart is ready to receive God again at Christmas.

Photo by jgurbisz. Thanks!