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.”
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