Thursday, November 27, 2003

Friday, 28 November, 2003

We begin with a piece from “Ethics” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

…”the doer shall be blessed in his/her doing” (James 1:25)

The doer is here the (person) who simply knows of no other possible attitude to the word of God when he has heard it than to do it; who therefore continues to concern (one’s)self strictly with the word itself and does not derive from it a knowledge for (one’s)self on the basis of which s/he might become the judge of his/ brother/sister, of (one’s)self, and eventually also a judge of the word of God.

To use the word as a weapon…as part of an arsenal to use against others – quite like a weapon is always a possibility. Therefore, we must be careful and prayer-full. The word is meant to be life…not a tool we use to cut down, beat down, put down and abuse others. When we use the word to judge others, we forget all about the promise for new life that comes with the word and we simply use it for our own benefit. The word, remember, is never for my benefit or the benefit of my side or my people. It is a word that builds up and sustains and liberates all people…for the welfare of all.

Connection: The more we can flow from hearing the liberating word and stepping right into its life, the more we can look forward to the journey of this day. Go for it.

O God, be our guide. Let your word bring us life. May we be moved to begin to dance within the great ballroom of your feast and promise that knows no end for then we will share in the power of your word and all things will indeed change. Amen.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Wednesday, 26 November, 2003

We begin with a piece from “Ethics” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

The hearer of the word who is not at the same time the doer of the word thus inevitably falls victim to self-deception (James 1:22). Believing (oneself) to know and to possess the word of God (this person) has, in fact, already lost it again, because (this person) imagines that a (person) can possess the word of God for a single instant otherwise than in doing it.

The concluding words cut to the heart. The Word is always living. It is full of life and it brings to life that which was not alive previously. To simply hold it…to hold it like a stick that we can use to measure the worthiness of the world and all of the world’s people is absurd. For at that point, it is not involved in bringing to life anything at all. In fact we could argue that we have changed the Word into something it was never meant to be – an instrument of death and judgment to be at our own disposal. By the power of the Holy Spirit we are pressed into living…pulled out of our self-consumption so that we would engage life to the fullest – that is – in the midst of others. Engagement created by the Holy Spirit does not settle for the mere exchange of words as though we can speak our way into the Reign of God. Engagement by the Holy Spirit involves that Word pulling us into life so that our lives become its image. You could say our lives define the Word even as it defines our being…it is one in the same…it is a fluid movement of life.

Connection: We would do well today when we “for a single instant” not much more…just a “single instant” find ourselves within the Word as life…our life. Not simply knowing it…but, having it be in, with, and under the very fiber of our day.

You, O God, make us in your image. You Word dresses us with new life and gives us the instruments to take a living part within your gracious Reign. We give you thanks this day for bending over to touch us and lead us and guide us along your pathways. Amen.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Tuesday, 25 November, 2003

We begin with a piece from “Ethics” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Certainly the doer of the law must also be a hearer, but only in the sense that the hearer is always at the same time the doer (James 1:22). A hearing which does not at the same instant become a doing becomes once again that “knowing” which gives rise to judgment and so leads to the disruption of all action. If what is heard does not become doing, but it becomes this “knowing,” then, paradoxical as this may sound, it is already “forgotten” (James 1:25). No matter how long it may be stored up, reconsidered and elaborated as knowledge, it is forgotten as that which is essentially is, namely, as that which points solely and entirely towards action.

One good example of such doing and hearing and knowing is “Love the Lord your God… Love your neighbor as yourself.” This is a great line to “know” but it is of no good for the life of our world if when we hear it we do not begin the journey of loving. There is so much about what we call the Good News that can simply be for us more things to know. Another example would be the Ten Commandments. The judge down south who put up a two ton monument to the Commandments is a caricature of such “knowing.” Who cares if the stone was 100 tons and out in the middle of the public square…t is utterly meaningless in such form. The Commandments are just as meaningless if we hold them only as something to recite…that is just another form of “knowing” as we avoid “doing.” It may sound good to know the law and be able to call forth the wonderful gift of the grace of God, but we are to encourage one another to step into it….to be graceful…to be loving…to be merciful…to live according to the laws that help us to live as people who actually do “love one another.” Jesus often resisted the “knowing” of the Pharisees for they knew much but did little.

Connection: We must be hearers. From that hearing, comes the potential to act in a new way. Today gives us the opportunity to hear and to live.

Lord of New Life you bring us this day and it is full of the life you have promised to all of us. Inspire us to shine with your mercy and love as we engage this day in your name. Amen.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Monday, 24 November, 2003

We begin with a piece from “Ethics” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

If by (one’s) knowledge of the law a (person) has become the judge of (one’s) brother or sister and so eventually of the law itself, then (this person) can no longer perform the law, however much else (this person) may appear to reform. The “doer of the law,” unlike the judge, submits to the law; the law never becomes a criterion for (this person) such as (this person) might apply to (this person’s) brother or sister; the law never confronts (this person) otherwise than in summoning (this person) personally to action. Even when (this person) has to deal with a brother or sister who is at fault, the “doer of the law” has only one possible means of giving effect to the law, and that is by performing it (him/her) self.

The “doer” does it. The “doer” does not need to watch over the “doing of others. The law is not there for us to be judges over others. The law is there for our well being and we are invited to participate in it for the welfare of all. We are called into action by the law. That action does define us. We can be so weighed down by how the law makes an impact on the community and others that we do not take up the call to be “doers of the law” ourselves. Instead, we play games with righteousness – with the law. It is life giving to listen to the wonderful ways of the law for our own life. For the ways of the law can inspire us to act within the boundaries of the law and the uplifting of the whole community. It is my responsibility to follow the law not to watch over you.

Connection: We give some people the job of being enforcers of the law. We enter into the ways of the law this day to participate in order, kindness, and deliberate concern for the welfare of all. Imagine how free this day would be if we would let go of our self-imposed job of judging others.

Lord God of Love, you bring us the gift of your commandments so that we may have the blessed experience of living in peace with one another. Forgive us when we make ourselves responsible for the law keeping of others for we then forget about the love that is enhance when we abide in your ways alone. Amen.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Friday, 21 November, 2003

We begin with a piece from “Ethics” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

The irreconcilable opposite of action is judgment.

“He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge” (James 4:11).

There are two possible attitudes to the law: judgment and action. The two are mutually exclusive. The (person) who judges envisages himself as being responsible for the execution of the law. (This person) forgets that there is only one lawgiver and judge “who is able to save and to destroy” (James 4:12). If a (person) employs his/her knowledge of the law in accusing or condemning (a brother or sister), then in truth (this person) accuses and condemns the law itself, for (the person) mistrusts it and doubts that it possesses the power of the living word of God to establish it self and to take effect by itself. In making (oneself) the lawgiver and the judge (that person) invalidates the law of God.

Hence there arises the irreparable cleavage between knowledge and action.

And yet, how we love to judge. But that is not necessarily so. Most of us would say we leave the judging up to God. Then, on the other hand, we are quick to be the ones who carry out the judgment for God. We exclude. We shun. We make note that some are not like us…and we, of course, are the way that must be followed. It is quite sad that we often do not hear how the law condemns all. We usually hear “them” or “some” or only “in the following situations” – and we, thank God, are not in one of those. We are called to love one another. That takes much doing…much acting. That is our response to the God of Grace and Glory. We are not called to judge others. That takes simple sitting back and attempting to rule over…or “lord” over others. The Reign of God revealed in Christ, Jesus, frees us from taking on a life that is not intended for us. Our life is to be ones as heirs of the Reign of God…as children of the Most High God…as “doers” of the law and the loving way it keeps us living in harmony with one another. We are invited to boldly act as the Loving children of God and boldly resist the temptation to take God’s position for ourselves.

Connection: There are too many ways to connect to today. Try to simply find a few places in the day when we are tempted to judge rather than act. And remember, that the actions of the followers of Jesus…are empowered and initiated by a gracious love for all.

O Ruler of Glory and Merciful Judge of all things, you have set us free to live in loving response to the many gifts of life that you place before us. Encourage us to trust in your word and walk with confidence as our lives are filled with acts of forgiveness, reconciliation, and peace. Amen.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Thursday, 20 November, 2003

We begin with a piece from “Ethics” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

It is evident that the only appropriate conduct of (humans) before God is the doing of (God’s) will. The sermon on the mount is there for the purpose of being done (Matthew 7:2ff.). Only in doing can there be submission to the will of God. In doing God’s will (humanity) renounces every right and every justification of his/her own; s/he delivers him/her self humbly into the hands of the merciful Judge. If the Holy Scriptures insists with such great urgency on doing, that is because it wishes to take away from (humanity) every possibility of self-justification before God on the basis of his own knowledge of good and evil.

When we act, we act with a boldness that trusts that our God is the one who will judge and no one else. We trust that our God is a merciful judge. Therefore we can boldly love…take love to the limit in our lives…act…do what is defined over and over again as love within God’s Reign. Paul Tillich writes of love being the power that reunites that which is separated. Can we boldly love…actually do it…actually engage one another as though the division between us is no more?!?! I would hope so. Can we also then know that even though we may be despised as lovers of “them” we boldly continue to love because God first loved us and we are God’s children – heirs of love? I would pray we would. I find myself suffering from the greatest wounds to my heart when I catch myself in the act of being less than a lover of myself and others. Believe me, it is a daily catch. And yet, the love of God for me…and you…is the power to bring us to life again and do life…do a loving life…boldly.

Connection: Be bold…here and there…throughout the day. Be reminded of the merciful Judge who is pulling for us and walking with us…for life.

This is the day that you have made, O God, and we give you thanks for placing us here to be a part of your gracious creation. Lift us up that we may see the way of your loving Reign as it comes to us this day. Amen.

Wednesday, 19 November, 2003

We begin with a piece from “Ethics” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Philippians 1:9 “I pray that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and discernment, that ye may prove the different situations (i.e., what is in each case right)”

In the passage which we have quoted…St. Paul…says that living and increasing in love is the precondition of proving, because to live and to increase in love is to live in reconciliation and unity with God and with (humankind), it is to live the life of Jesus Christ.

The love that abounds is the love that comes to life within a community that is grounded in the love that we know in Christ, Jesus. The community must learn to discern what the will of God is by bringing one another back to the will of God as seen in Jesus. Our conversations cannot be led around by self-satisfying notions of good and evil. We must be led by the Spirit of God that will not settle for simple divisions and judgments. We press on for a unifying truth that brings together those who have been separated and those who live to judge others so that we will be one people. Our proving of what is right for us always goes back to the Christ.

Connection: So what did Jesus do? Therefore, what do we do…how do we step away from our judging to discern what God’s will is in our lives. How does the reality of Love…especially the Love of God for all begin to shape and lead us? That is an everyday question.

By your Spirit take us into this day so that we will remember the love you have for us and the love that becomes the way, the truth and the life for all who are empowered to turn to you, O God. Guide us and lead us. Amen

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Tuesday, 18 November, 2003

We begin with pieces from “Ethics” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Now how does a (person) set about this “proving what is the will of God”? The crucial precondition for this is that this proving takes place solely on the basis of a “metamorphosis,” a complete inward transmutation of one’s previous form, a “renewing of mind” (Romans 12:2), a “walking as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). The metamorphosis of (humanity) can only be the overcoming of the form of the fallen (humanity), Adam, and conformation with the form of the new (humanity) Christ.

We cannot trust our own thoughts about what is the will of God. Our hearts are not always aligned with the way of the Reign of God…even if we dearly think that they are. We must always go back to the image of God in Christ and there we begin to take the journey that will open up the will of God for our life together. There may be many things in our hearts and even in scripture that seem to be right and good and proper…but we must always go back to Christ, Jesus, and discern, with others, the presence of Jesus here and now among us. It seems that we would at that time catch the vision of God’s Reign and a breath of God’s will as it blows through our lives.

Connection: Stay connected to others who count themselves as “children of light” and together speak and pray about the will of God as you stay connected to the story of God With Us, Christ, Jesus.

Renewing Lord, God, you continue to breathe upon us so that we will at last find our comfort and hope in your alone. By the power of your Holy Spirit open our hearts to the journey of faithfulness that brings to life your will within this day. Amen.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Monday, 17 November, 2003

We begin with pieces from “Ethics” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

The will of God may lie very deeply concealed beneath a great number of available possibilities. The will of God is not a system of rules which is established from the outset; it is something new and different in each different situation in life, and for this reason a (person) must ever anew examine what the will of God may be. The heart, the understanding, observation and experience must all collaborate in this task. It is no longer a matter of a (person’s) own knowledge of good and evil, but solely of the living will of God; our knowledge of God’s will is not something over which we ourselves dispose, but it depends solely upon the grace of God, and this grace is and requires to be new every morning.

It sounds as though the task of discerning the will of God demands our full engagement of the day and all the resources of our lives. There is no brief definition that can be learned that will give us complete understanding of the will of God. There are many ways we hear the will of God described in scripture but then we are called to bring that bit of the Word into the dynamics of the situation at hand. This is not like putting the right answer into a blank on a fill-in-blank test. We must take the Word and be aware of the time at hand and the context in which we live and our own lives and the dialogue with other saints. Then…we begin to have a glimpse of the Will of God that is greater than any answer that can be thrown out into a life situation.

Connection: Somewhere in the mix of all the parts of our lives we will be given a glimpse of the will of God within the routines and dynamics of this day. As followers of Jesus we are called to be eternally engaged in a life of discernment – keeping our eyes and ears open to the unfolding of God’s Reign.

By your Grace, O God, take us within the boundaries of your Reign so that we may begin to walk in a new way through the everyday parts of our life. Shape us by your Spirit and bring us into dialogue with other saints who are willing to engage us with visions of your Reign in action. Amen.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Thursday, 13 November, 2003

We begin with pieces from “Ethics” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Jesus’ saying [“But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what they right hand doeth: that thine alms may be in secret” Mt.6:3ff] is not directed against boastfulness or self-satisfaction of the (person) who has done good; but once again He is striking at the heart of the (person) who lives in disunion. He forbids the (person) who does good to know of this good. The new knowledge of the reconciliation which is accomplished in Jesus, the knowledge of the voiding of the disunion, itself entirely voids (humanity’s) own knowledge of (humanity’s) own goodness.

We begin in Jesus. We begin in the new creation. We begin in union with God because of God’s action in Christ, Jesus. That is the beginning and that is the end. No need to listen to another story. No need to keep score…of our own actions or the actions of others. We live under the Reign of the one who does all the counting and the balance sheet will be and is always in our favor…for us. So, in the actions of our lives we are free from our own judgments for we count only on God’s sacrificial love for us that we know in Christ. In addition, no one…no person…no power…can judge us and have it be the last word – even when they may want just that and even if they appear to be right in their judgment about us. We are claimed, redeemed, sanctified, blessed, beloved…and that action & word by our God dismantles all other words.

Connection: It is easy to forget or choose to ignore the gospel truth. There is no room for judgment…of any kind. For all things are now seen through Jesus’ sacrificial love for all. Therefore, what will be the guiding light of this day for you?

O Most High God, with a simple word…you create all things and bring from nothing brilliant life that is meant to shine forth with your glory. Inspire us to trust your creative and saving power so that this day may be filled with the kind of love that makes all things new…all things. Amen

Wednesday,12 November, 2003

We begin with pieces from “Ethics” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Whoever knows God in (God’s) revelation in Jesus Christ, whoever knows the crucified and risen God, (that person) knows all things that are in heaven, on earth and beneath the earth. (That person) knows God as the ending of all disunion, all judgment and all condemnation, as the One who loves and as the One who lives. The knowledge of the Pharisees was dead and barren, but the knowledge of Jesus and of those who are allied with Him is alive and fruitful; the knowledge of the Pharisees is disruptive, but the new knowledge is redemptive and propitiatory; the knowledge of the Pharisees is the negation of all true action, but the knowledge of Jesus and of His own consists solely in action.

The one who know God in Jesus is free to participate in the whole creation without fear. Fear comes from a place other than the empty tomb. Fear disrupts. The most important part of that disruptive nature of fear is the way it disrupts our own hearts and how it can turn us away from the God who is know as the crucified and risen God. For we begin to turn from the One who is “the ending of all disunion, all judgment and all condemnation” and we turn to family opinion…to what we claim to know…to what we suspect…to how we would want the world to be created. What a burden! To follow Jesus is to take on a light load…for it is not a stack of “this and that” (do this…do that…think this…think that) – it is to stand with Jesus as the invited guest at the great banquet and begin to live as though that is our status and our hope.

Connection: At one time or another during the day we all stand with fingers pointing – judging. What would happen if the judgment we make would be simple the judgment made by the merciful Lord of All, “You are my beloved, forever and ever.” Imagine how we would be looking at the world and what we would begin to do to be a part of the potential creativity and newness within this day.

Pull us into your gracious Reign, O God, because we will try every way we can to run from you and pick the kind of world we want for ourselves and make it all look so right and good and proper. Encourage us; make us bold, so that we will rest, alas, in your promises alone. Amen.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Tuesday, 11 November, 2003

We begin with pieces from “Ethics” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

No longer knowing good and evil, but knowing Christ as origin and as reconciliation, (humanity) will know all.

For in knowing Christ (humanity) knows and acknowledges God’s choice which has fallen upon this person him/her self; (the person) no longer stands as the chooser between good and evil, that is to say, in disunion; (the person) is the chosen one, who can no longer choose, but has already made his choice in his being chosen in freedom and unity of the deed and will of God. (The person) thus has a new knowledge, in which the knowledge of good and evil is overcome. (The person) has the knowledge of God, yet no longer as the (person) who has become like God, but as the (person) who bears the image of God. All (the person) knows now is “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2), and in Him (the person) knows all.

To be the Chosen one…chosen by our God…beloved by our God, changes everything within our lives. No longer will our opinions or our logic or our rationalizations be the ground upon which we enter into the events of our lives. Is the Christ, crucified, buried, and raised from the dead, the Christ of all…the savior of all…the one who walks into and through the powers of death for all, or is the Christ something else? The decisions of our lives as followers of Jesus spring up from the action of God for us, always and eternally for us…not just some of us…all of us. Our beginning and our end…is “Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” Now, how do we become instruments of the Holy Spirit and continue to be a part of the risen Christ and nothing less? This is always a community adventure.

Connection: We will never be sure of the specifics of the adventure we will enter today, but we will be sure of the one who will lead us and guide us – always. Remember that, like the early church, we may be led into actions and lives we do not anticipate nor would we choose to go there. And yet, our Lord, Jesus, is still Lord of All.

Lord of All, you have made a promise that we are forever yours. Within that baptismal reality, let us see all your beloved saints so that we will not be afraid to walk in the way of Jesus within the adventure of this day. Amen.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Monday, 10 November, 2003

We begin with pieces from “Ethics” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Today’s reading picks up from last Friday so we begin with the reading from Friday:

There is a spurious activity of (humanity) which is itself a judgment, and there is also, astonishingly enough, a judgment which is true activity of (humanity), that is to say, a “judging” which springs from the achievement of union with the origin, with Jesus Christ. There is a “knowing” which arises from the knowledge of Jesus Christ as the Reconciler… This judgment and this knowledge spring from unity, not from disunion. They therefore create not further disunion, but reconciliation. Jesus Christ’s judgment consisted precisely in His having come not to condemn but to save; “And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world” (John 3:19. cf. verses 17 & 18), and likewise (people) who are reconciled with God and (humanity) in Christ will judge all things, as (people) who do not judge, and will know all things as (people) who do not know good and evil.

Their judgment will consist in brotherly/sisterly help, in lifting up the falling and in showing the way to the straying, in exhortation and in consolation (Gal.6; Matt.18.15ff.), and also, if the need arises, in a temporary suspension of fellowship, but in such a manner that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 5.5). It will be a judgment of reconciliation and not of disunion, a judgment by not judging, a judgment which is the act of reconciliation. No longer knowing good and evil, but knowing Christ as origin and as reconciliation, (humanity) will know all.

This makes for a long introductory reading but I thought it was important to tie the two together because we are told of the shape of the judgment we make in the community of Christ. It is always to create – return to – union. “A judgment of reconciliation” – what a wonderful blending of images for us to remember as we look to the Christ of God in our life together. Among us, we know Christ, Jesus, and that will be enough to create new life and heal any brokenness and disunity. But when we hold on to our what we say is the knowledge of good and evil, we give up our knowledge of Jesus as Lord for we have already picked the lord of our life and there is no more room for the merciful and gracious, Lord, Jesus.

Connection: This really is a whole new life we are invited to enter today as followers of Jesus. The old is gone…the new is breaking in…already. Reconciliation is now the substance of our day together.

Lord, lead us into the hopeful journey of your Reign of peace and healing and resurrection so that we may experience the joy of your love and share with those around us that love you share with us. Amen.

Friday, November 7, 2003

Friday, 7 November, 2003

We begin with pieces from “Ethics” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

There is a spurious activity of (humanity) which is itself a judgment, and there is also, astonishingly enough, a judgment which is true activity of (humanity), that is to say, a “judging” which springs from the achievement of union with the origin, with Jesus Christ. There is a “knowing” which arises from the knowledge of Jesus Christ as the Reconciler… This judgment and this knowledge spring from unity, not from disunion. They therefore create not further disunion, but reconciliation. Jesus Christ’s judgment consisted precisely in His having come not to condemn but to save; “And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world” (John 3:19. cf. verses 17 & 18), and likewise (people) who are reconciled with God and (humanity) in Christ will judge all things, as (people) who do not judge, and will know all things as (people) who do not know good and evil.

The light is come into the world! “In thy light, we see light.” What we so often fear is what we create in our minds. That is odd. That also seems like something that goes against the first commandment: (I am the Lord, your God) You shall have no other gods before me. And yet, we do…our own minds. The world we would create within our minds fits very well with how we would judge things to be good and evil. It is too often a world that is ruled by judgment and condemnation rather than by the rule of the One who brings union even where disunion attempts to fashion the world. In our worlds, we too often let our own comfort lead us into lives that really seek little more than what fits into our judgments of the way things must be. How quickly we throw out the Christ and the unity created in Jesus’ name when we turn away from reconciliation and insist on a world that fits our demands.

Connection: We are all in a bind. We long to be the followers of Jesus in our day and yet we find so many other things within our minds to trust….more that the one we call Lord. What would it take to unbind ourselves and experience Jesus anew today?

Bind us together, Lord, and lift us up to see the grand banquet feast that you have set for all your children. Let us see the faces of those we cannot love today. Let us see them at the table of your victory feast and then…let us bring our eyes back to earth and begin to celebrate with all of them even now before the end is here, your love that reunites all people. Amen

Wednesday, November 5, 2003

Thursday, 6 November, 2003

We begin with pieces from “Ethics” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

…judgment is evil because it is itself apostasy, and that is also the reason why it brings evil fruit in the human heart…

“Judging” is not a special vice or wickedness of the disunited (person); it is his/her essence, manifesting itself in speech, action and sentiment. It is true that the Pharisee is seen in this light only from the standpoint of unity already recovered, from the standpoint of Jesus. The Pharisee him/her self can know him/her self only in his/her virtues and vices, but not in his/her essence, in his/her apostasy from the origin. Only the overcoming of the knowledge of good and evil can bring about the conversion of the entire existence of the Pharisee; only Jesus can overthrow the authority of the Pharisee which is founded upon the knowledge of good and evil.

Apostasy is defined as: An abandonment of one’s religious faith (to stand away from). Judgment is apostasy because it causes us to stand away from the grace of our Lord, Jesus. It sets us up within the domain of our own rule - the rule of the knowledge of good and evil – rather than the domain where Jesus alone is Lord, and Judge. We cannot be a merciful judge on our own. We will judge the way we see it…from our own eyes. The Good News calls us to see all things from the gracious throne room – banquet room – of the Christ of God. In essence, it means we lay down our lives and pick up new ones. That is the imagery of baptism. We die to the old…to our way…to the many ways we “stand away” from our God, and we are lifted up by the power of the Holy Spirit into the realm of Jesus’ love of all – that saves rather than condemns.

Connection: Many times in this day, we will choose to “stand away from” Jesus Reign. It will happen for many and various reason. We are always welcome back. Our God even comes to stand beside us when we are trying to “stand away” from God’s rule. Maybe we need to give ourselves to time to see and hear God at our side inviting us to walk into a new light.

By your grace, Blessed Lord, you bring us into your embrace and lead us into the lasting power of your mercy and the many ways in which reconciliation can become the pattern of our daily actions. Continue to pull us into your loving Reign and breathe upon us with your Spirit of new life. Amen.

Tuesday, November 4, 2003

Wednesday, 5 November, 2003

We begin with pieces from “Ethics” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

…there is now indeed a profound contradiction between the speech and the action of the Pharisee. “They say, and do not.” (Matt.23:3). It is not as though the Pharisees did nothing, or as though they were backward in the performance of good works. The opposite is the case. But their action is not genuine action; for indeed the action which is intended to overcome the disunion of (humanity) in good and evil does not achieve this aim but only aggravates the disunion still further. And in this way, for the Pharisee, the doing of the good which is intended to heal the inner disunion of (humanity) and (humanity’s) disunion with other people leads only to still greater disunion and to persistence in the defection from the origin.

The “action intended to overcome the disunion…only aggravates the disunion still further.” For we are involved in an endless cycle of judging and evaluating and making sure that we can, somehow, be rated well in life…considered good…and then…have the power to say what is good and evil in the world around us. It’s like watching CrossFire on CNN…it is a never ending game of blame and self-justification. But when this is the life of the “church,” it is, for lack of a better expression an “anti-Christ life.” I know that sounds harsh so please don’t take great offense. I simply think we must continue to talk about what we are called to be, who makes us all that we are, and stop trying to play God with our judging. In the final analysis, I would take God’s merciful judgment in Christ, Jesus, over my own judgment any day. But still I/we persist in our “bean-counter” lives.

Connection: To give up the power we think we have when we consider ourselves able to know what is “good and evil” is frightening. We literally are not in control (funny thing is…we never were or will be). Each moment our God starts us at scratch – beloved. It doesn’t get better than that. Remember whose you are today!

By your Grace, O God, you fashion life as we cannot fashion it ourselves. Lift us up so that we may see the end of time that is already in your graceful possession and is awaiting our arrival. Within that vision, nurture our life today. Amen.

Tuesday, 4 November, 2003

We begin with pieces from “Ethics” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matt. 7.1). This is not an exhortation to prudence and forbearance in passing judgment on (another human), such as was also recognized by the Pharisees. It is a blow struck at the heart of the one who knows good and evil. It is the word of Him who speaks by virtue of his unity with God, who came not to condemn but to save (John 3:17). For (humanity) in the state of disunion, good consists in passing judgment, and the ultimate criterion is (humanity itself). Knowing good and evil, (humanity) is essentially a judge. As a judge (humanity) is like God, except that every judgment (humanity) delivers falls back upon him/herself.

I always find it odd that the Church of Jesus, Christ, is known to the so many people as a judging group of folks. It is not that we are known for doing the right thing. It is more that we are known for judging others when we think people are doing wrong. That is so unfortunate. It is no wonder so many people turn from the church…then again…that is why so many people turn to the church – to be people who are given the task of being the gatekeepers of right and wrong. Nothing is more powerful than being able to sit on the side that is able to judge the world. But that is not the Church! Wouldn’t it be an interesting world if we were known as people who actually love the world – who give our lives for the sake of others…even the others we are usually want to judge?!?!

Connection: Judge not…love much. What will that do to this day!?

Blessed Lord, God, you come into our lives to save us. Within that journey of love, you sacrifice yourself so that we may be free and find another way to live within this day. Encourage us to follow the lead of our Lord, Jesus, and be a witness to your eternal grace and love. Amen

Monday, November 3, 2003

Monday, 3 November, 2003

We begin with pieces from “Ethics” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

The freedom of Jesus is not the arbitrary choice of one amongst innumerable possibilities; it consists on the contrary precisely in the complete simplicity of His action, which is never confronted by a plurality of possibilities, conflicts or alternatives, but always only by one thing. This one thing Jesus calls the will of God. He says that to do this will is His meat. This will of God is His life. He lives and acts not by the knowledge of good and evil but by the will of God. There is only one will of God. In it the origin is recovered; in it there is established the freedom and the simplicity of all action.

This is not to say that we will not have to enter much discussion about “the will of God.” It is to say that we are asked to discuss more than what is good and evil because this second discussion does not open up the vision of God’s Reign of Grace. Much of the scripture deals with vision. It is often imagery that is poetic and it draws us beyond rules and regulation…it takes us into the very heart/will of God. Unfortunately, we don’t always want to enter into that journey. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day wanted to stay on line with what is right and good…evil and good – they did not want to deal with the parables of Jesus that would disrupt their world and push everyone to consider the wealth of God’s Reign as the beginning of new life. To will one thing…ah…to walk together and be open to how the will of God unfolds is a grand gift we give to one another.

Connection: Freedom in this day can become a whole new experience as we begin to trust the vision of the Reign of God and keep asking one another to talk about the will of God for the life in front of us.

Lord of New Life, take us by the hand and lead us into the wonderful sights of your glorious Reign for we too often will not lift up our heads to see your glory. Grant us a sense of your creative will as we live within the community of saints. Amen.