Lent with Bonhoeffer, Monday, March 18, 2013 – Symbols of Lent: Crown of Thorns

by xcrawford


Therefore, it is never sufficient simply to have read God’s Word. It must penetrate deep within us, dwell in us, like the Holy of Holies in the Sanctuary, so that we do not sin in thought, word or deed. – from Meditation on Psalm 119

When Bonhoeffer was a professor at the outlawed Confessing Church seminary he required his students to spend a half-hour everyday in meditation on scriptures based on his reading of Psalm 119:148. “My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise” (Psalm 119:148 ESV). His students had a difficult time with this practice, so Bonhoeffer made this list for them:

Why do I meditate?

  1. Because I am a Christian. Therefore, every day in which I do not penetrate more deeply into the knowledge of God’s Word in Holy Scripture is a lost day for me. I can only move forward with certainty upon the firm ground of the Word of God. And, as a Christian, I learn to know the Holy Scripture in no other way than by hearing the Word preached and by prayerful meditation.
  2. Because I am a preacher of the Word. I cannot expound the Scripture for others if I do not let it speak daily to me. I will misuse the Word in my office as preacher if I do not continue to meditate upon it in prayer. If the Word has become empty for me in my daily administrations, if I no longer experience it, that proves I have not let the Word speak personally to me for a long time. I will offend against my calling if I do not seek each day in prayer the word that my Lord wants to say to me for that day. Ministers of the Word are especially called upon to perform the office of prayer: “But we will devote oursleves to prayer and the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). The pastor must pray than others, and has more to pray about.
  3. Because I need a firm discipline of prayer. We like to pray according to our moods — briefly, at length, or not at all. But that is to be arbitrary. Prayer is not a free-will offering to God; it is obligatory service, something that he requires. We are not free to engage in it according to our own wishes. Prayer is the first divine service in the day. God requires that we take time for this service. “Early in the morning I cry out to you, for in your word is my trust. My eyes are open in the night watches, that I may meditate upon your promise” (Psalm 119:147-148). “Seven times a day do I praise you, because of your righteous judgments” (Psalm 119:164).
  4. Because I need help against the ungodly haste and unrest which threaten my work as a pastor. Only from the peace of God’s Word can there flow the proper, devoted service of each day.

(From Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Meditating on the Word, pp. 22-23).

Symbols of Lent: Crown of Thorns

The Crown of Thorns is usually presented in the time running up to Holy Week, usually around week 5C of the Lectionary. The Crown of Thorns are presented before the Liturgy of the Passion/ Easter Service because they not only represent the sacrifice of the crucifixion, but also the Crown of the King. The sixth week of Lent is a Palm Sunday Service that fulfills the Old Testament prophecy of the Triumphal Entry of the King/Messiah.

Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and they smote him with their hands. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! (John 19: 1-5)