Faith in Community Part 2a

21 04 2008

Continuing along with our lectio divina of sorts with Bonhoeffer’s work “Life in Community,” dear old Dietrich leads us through parts of the Daily Office in his second Chapter, “The Day with Others.”

Chapter 2: The Day with Others

The Day’s Beginning

In the Old Testament, the day began at evening, a time of expectation.  In the New Testament, the shift of the beginning of the day to dawn, seen as a time of fulfilment where we remember the Resurrection.  Sin and Death are defeated and new life and salvation is given.  Today, we have no fear of night.  We would actually be hard pressed to find a time when we truly experience darkness.  What if we were to recapture the sense of wonder when day broke after a long night?

Our common life using the office begins with common worship at the beginning of the day.  We should not begin immediately thinking of our work and what we have to do or how we are going to get through the daily grind.  If we get up early out of a sense of worry and there being way too much to do, that is in Dietrich’s word, “unprofitable” (p44).  Rising early for the love of God is the practice of our spiritual forebears such as Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, and Jesus.  Morning devotions today vary according to the needs of the community.

The Secret of the Psalter

The use of psalms have had special significance since ancient times.  It is not only God’s word, but our own prayers.  There are psalms we can identify with and those we can’t.  Our challenge is to live into the entire psalter.  It is a book of prayer, if not our owns then someone else’s, but all are lifted up to God.  It is an example of a truly inclusive book.  Jesus, in whom dwells the fullness of humanity as well as divinity, is able to pray the psalter in all of its beauty and ugliness.  Prayer means “praying according to the word, the basis of promises.” (p47)

Do we dare pray what are known as the imprecatory psalms, the psalms of vengence?  We dare not by ourselves, but we can pray them in and through Christ who suffered wrath so his enemies could go free.  We dare not call ourselves innocent or righteous on our own except when we pray them out of the heart of Jesus, who is the only one of us who was truly innocent.

What about psalms of suffering?  We do not know the depth of suffering portrayed in its verses.  But the same principle applies here for Christ also suffered for everyone, so we can pray the psalms of suffering through him and in him … and with each other.

The psalms teach us to prayer as a fellowship, for our own individual prayers are but a “minute fragment of the whole prayer of the Church.” (p49) Take Psalm 5, for instance.  There are clearly two voices present, which serve to remind us that no one ever prays alone.  Dietrich suggests that the entire psalter could be summed up in the Lords Prayer.  Even there, there is no “I” or “me” only “us.”

Reading the Scripture

There are a lot of prejudices and preconceived notions here.  Scripture was never meant to be read or understood as disparate parts and pieces but read with continuity and understood as a whole.  Only then can “the full witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord be perceived.” (p51)

We will often complain a reading is too long or beyond our comprehension.  Truer words were never spoken, for even when we think we’ve “got it,” we still think we see through a glass darkly.  To even get the gist of what a passage is saying, we need to hear and listen to what came before and after.  As we hear the stories, pray the psalms, live the Gospel and receive the instruction in the Epistles we participate in the original hearing of its first listeners and become more open to Christ.  We learn how God breaks into the world and deals with a very imperfect and fallen people.  We ride the ark with Noah, we relive the first Passover, we wrestle and rebel against God, we travel through the wilderness.

“It is far more important to know what God did to Israel and to his Son than to seek what God intends today.  The fact that Jesus dies is more important than the fact I shall die, and the fact Jesus rose from the dead is the sole ground of my hope that I, too, shall be raised at the last day.” (p54, emphasis mine). Snarky note:  WHOA! Tell that to anyone who follows the four spiritual laws (ie God has a plan for your life, etc).  When we read Scripture (and all lectors take note!) We should read as if we are the recipient, not the author.

Singing a New Song

I would find it very difficult to be in a parish that doesn’t sing.  When we sing, we join with all of humanity (whether it knows it or not) and all of Creation (whether it knows it or not) in praise to the one who made us.  It is the song of Moses, the song of Mary, and the song of Paul and Silas.  Our song is words put to music which we cannot express on our own.  Think of a song that moves you.  A song that REALLY moves you is not just lyrics or melody and harmony alone, but both working in concert together.  “The fact that we do not speak it but sing it only expresses the fact our spoken words are inadequate to express what we have to say.” (p59)  Perhaps we could say the voice of the Church is really and truly heard in our music, not in our preaching.

Saying Our Prayers Together

If we are to pray as a fellowship, prayer must really be our voices joined with God.  One who is head of a fellowship (clergy or laiety) must first pray for the fellowship and intercede on its behalf.  The leader prays as a sibling among siblings, so it is important to choose the counsel you keep but to above all to LISTEN to the voices of the fellowship.  Then “prayer will become more and more the common prayer of all.” (p64)  Even is you’re not in the mood to pray and it is still your time, it is better to do it anyway than to put it off, otherwise prayer will turn into something guided by mood and have nothing to do with your spiritual life.  It is in the weakness and emptiness that the pray-er draws strength from the fellowship.  Sometimes the simplest utterance or mumble has more power than any collect.

Fellowship of the Table

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us* while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ 33That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’  Luke 24:30-34

Christ is truly the giver of all gifts. Even our earthly gifts are given for Christ’s sake for He is the true bread of life.  “….because our task is not finished, does God in his patience continue to sustain us with good gifts.” (p67).  Christ is present in our gifts and so we acknowledge Jesus as the giver of all good things and indeed himself is the ultimate Gift.

Table fellowship is the reminder that the Sabbath is the meaning and goal of our work.  Our life i snot only work and labour, but also refreshment and rest.  The Lord’s prayer says, “Give us this day our daily bread.”  We are linked to God and to each other.  Hunger only happens when we say “my daily bread” and we withdraw our gifts.



5 responses

22 04 2008

This really moves me and I so thank you for providing your commentary along with Bonhoeffer’s words.

As a lector, the words about recipient versus author are deep in my heart right now in particular.

22 04 2008

interesting. Fran just sent me over. “Faith in community” is the name of my blog. And I had two posts where I explained my blog title via Luther and Bonhoeffer and my own experience.

It’s a great work for “lectio divina.”

Although I don’t agree with him on singing in harmony versus unison.

22 04 2008

S”cripture was never meant to be read or understood as disparate parts and pieces but read with continuity and understood as a whole. Only then can “the full witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord be perceived.”

Oh how true, but how often forgotten.

22 04 2008
Grandmère Mimi

When we read Scripture (and all lectors take note!) We should read as if we are the recipient, not the author.

Thank God that someone, I’m not sure who, told me years ago, “When you read the Scriptures, always consider that the words apply to you.” That has simplified my life quite a bit.

21 05 2008

[…] leads us through parts of the Daily Office in his second Chapter, ???The Day with Others.??? Ch Matter of Record May12 Wichita Falls Times Record NewsAbstract of Judgment First American […]

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