Lent with Bonhoeffer, Wednesday, February 27, 2013

by xcrawford

Revised Common Lectionary week Lent 3C

Psalm 63:1-8 (ESV)

[My Soul Thirsts for You]
[63:1] O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
[2] So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
[3] Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
[4] So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
[5] My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
[6] when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
[7] for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
[8] My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

– Brief Historical Background: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaki, also known as Rashi, was born in France in 1040, educated at Ashkenazi yeshivas in Germany, and died 1105. Rashi’s commentaries on Hebrew Scriptures and the Talmud says that this psalm was written by David while hiding fleeing from Saul in the desert of Judah. It is also part of a division known as the Elohistic Psalter. The Psalms in this section use the title Elohim (usually translated as God) instead of the name Yahweh (YHWH) when referring to God.

– Continuing the theme of Lent- Even though David is in the desert, the thing that he thirsts for is the Presence of the Lord. David says that he will feel satisfied, not by food, but by meditating on the Lord, because the Love of the Lord is better than life- which is a pretty song statement since Saul was actively pursuing and threatening to kill David. However, David loved the Lord so much (more than his own life Verse 3), he would not kill God’s anointed king, Saul.


Bonhoeffer on Relevance

“…preaching which is relevant to the present age must be essentially exegesis, exegesis of the Word that alone has power to make itself present, exegesis of Scripture.  The act of presentation, insofar as it can be achieved by us through any method at all is strict and exclusive reference to Scripture.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer, No Rusty Swords

“It has pleased God to speak to us through the words of the Bible.  Therefore the sermon must be an interpretation and not an application.  Every application on our part indicates that we stand above the Word rather than underneath it; that we regard it as a principle that has to be applied to each individual case.  The only true application, however, is God’s own self, and God alone.  The maximum concreteness we can achieve is through factual exposition of God’s word.” — Bonhoeffer,  Lectures on Homiletics

Relevance- or application- writers talk about Bonhoeffer’s relevance in relation to the Nazi regime. However, in his homiletics, the idea that we should try to be relevant could lead to preaching a pro-Hitler message because of the extreme nationalism of the time. The demand for relevance is what led to the Nazification of the German Lutheran church. Bonhoeffer tried to stay away from “topical” sermons. Relevance was a Nazi word. That is why the Barmen Declaration focused on Jesus Christ alone. Many pastors think it is their job to tell the congregation who to vote for, from either side, but that is splicing patriotism or politics to the Gospel. Sermons should stand on the Text. If you Graft anything to the Gospel… even if it is a positive thing… it opens the doors to Graft *anything* to the Gospel.

Despite Bonhoeffer’s work in the Resistance Movement against Hitler’s Nazi regime, he was against applying politics to the Gospel in the sermon. He believed that if you were able to ADD Anti-Nazism to the Gospel, it opened the door to adding anything, including Nazism to the Gospel.

“It is quite strange that there is still a widespread view that there must be something more than textual exegesis, something going beyond it, more concrete.  – What more concrete can there be today than the textual exegesis of certain chapters of the Apocalypse, of the Prophets or the Sermon on the Mount or the parable of the Good Samaritan?  Is not textual exegesis, insofar as it really takes this text as a testimony of the living Christ, everything here?  Is not this precisely the surprising thing, that today we can take almost any text and only need to expound it clearly and sharply and factually and it becomes relevant to us?” — No Rusty Swords

Bonhoeffer believed that you didn’t need to add anything to The Text to make the sermon Relevant; a sermon based on deep Bible study is Relevant by itself because (as he mentioned before) Jesus is The Word- and The Word Preached Is Christ Incarnate.

Ein Keloheinu (an English translation of a traditional Hebrew prayer/blessing)

There is none like our God, There is none like our Lord, There is none like our King, There is none like our Savior.Who is like our God?, Who is like our Lord?, Who is like our King?, Who is like our Savior?
Let us thank our God, Let us thank our Lord, Let us thank our King, Let us thank our Savior.
Blessed be our God, Blessed be our Lord, Blessed be our King, Blessed be our Savior.
You are our God, You are our Lord, You are our King, You are our Savior.
You are the one before whom our fathers burned the incense of spice.
You will save us.
You will arise and show mercy to Zion, for it will be the time to favor her, for the proper time will have arrived.