Lent with Bonhoeffer, Saturday, March 2, 2013
Symbols of Lent
— in some congregations that focus on a different symbol of the Lenten season every week, they use a call and response similar to this one from the Christian Resource Institute:
Leader: Today we lay before the cross the nails that pierced the hands and feet of the Son of God. The nails were our verdict, condemning this innocent Man to the undeserved suffering and disgrace of crucifixion. The empty tomb is God’s verdict, vindicating Him. Yet in Him God comes to roll away our own, deserved, disgrace.
People: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us. Forgive us our cruelty, and fear, and quickness to condemn. We see the disgrace You bore because of us, and confess it as our own. In the shadow of Your cross we cry, “Have mercy on us.”
–except from Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer- a Discussion of Christian Fellowship , chapter 4
Ministry of Holding One’s Tongue
Often we combat our evil thoughts most effectively if we absolutely refuse to allow them to be expressed in words.
“He who holds his tongue in check controls both mind and body.” (James 3:2).
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)
If we can by the spirit of Grace control our tongue we will make a wonderful discovery. We will be able to stop from constantly criticizing the other person, judging him, condemning him and putting him in a place where we can find a position over him and then do violence to him. The discovery we will make if we, by the grace of God, control our tongue is we will allow our brother to exist as a completely free person as God made him to be. Our view of the person is expanded and for the first time we are able to see in this person the richness of God’s creative glory. God did not make this person as I would have mead him. He did not give him to me as a brother for me to dominate and control, but in order that I might find above him the Creator. God does not will that I should make the person according to the image that seems good to me, that is, in my own image; rather God made this person in His image. I can never know before hand how God’s image should appear in others.
The Christian community then is no longer a place where a person can assert himself over another but a place where the person can best perform his gifted service.
In a Christian community everything depends upon whether each individual is an indispensable link in a chain. Only when even the smallest link is securely interlocked is the chain unbreakable. (A community which allows unlinked members to exist within it will die because of them.) It is better if every member receives a definite task to perform for the community, that s/he may know in hours of doubt that s/he, too, is not useless and unusable. Every Christian community must realize that not only do the weak need the strong, but also that the strong cannot exist without the weak. The elimination of the weak is the death of fellowship.
***Not self-justification, which means the use of domination and force, but justification by grace, and therefore service, should govern the Christian community. Once a man has experienced the mercy of God in his life he will henceforth aspire only to serve.
God of the covenant,
in the glory of the cross
your Son embraced the power of death
and broke its hold over your people.
In this time of repentance,
draw all people to yourself,
that we who confess Jesus as Lord
may put aside the deeds of death
and accept the life of your kingdom. Amen.