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Canadian Geese in flight (birds ). Photo by Radiohound    

Following several days of soaking rains in mid-April, Spring in all its glory arrived with flowering trees along with dusts of pollen.  To celebrate, I took a journey back to Arbreux, my former place in Shenandoah County.  I wanted to visit with my friend John Sellers who bought Arbreux and who has been a faithful steward.  But I also wanted to see the daffodils I had planted, believing as I did so that they would leave a legacy of my years there.  Alas, they were blooming in glorious profusion, even in places where I I had forgotten I had planted them.  Longfellow’s line comes to mind: 

Nothing now is left.  But a majestic memory.” 

Ghosts of The Past (Spring architecture barns trees ). Photo by OlsonLon      


Newly installed in my front garden here is a faithful birdhouse replica of Chalet Arbreux.  Officially approved for blue-birds, already a pair of tree swallows have moved in.  The guidebook tells me they may have just arrived from their winter home in Argentina or possibly along the Gulf coast. I also read that swallows feed on airborne insects, so perhaps the new residents will rid the nearby neighborhood of gnats and mosquitoes.

On my bedside chest this month is Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book “Life Together”.  In it, he sets forth the importance of understanding what Christian fellowship in a koinonia community should be. The word “Life” in his title means so much more to Christians living in community, ergo, in the wider sense of the worldwide Church of the Faithful.  In his book, Abundant Living, E. Stanley Jones taught me what it means to be fully living with his phrase “alive to your fingertips”.  Only the Holy Spirit can indwell you and make it possible.  Only those who know Christ intimately can fully comprehend the meaning of new “life”.

         Bonhoeffer expands this thought with his portrayal of Christians living in fellowship with the Holy Spirit as they read the Holy Book together:

         “Consecutive reading of Biblical books forces everyone who want to hear to put himself….where God has acted once and for all for the salvation of men.  We become part of what once took place for our salvation.  Forgetting and losing ourselves, we, too, pass through the Red Sea, through the desert, across the Jordon into the promised land.  With Israel we fall into doubt and unbelief and through punishment and repentance experience again God’s help and faithfulness.  All this is not mere reverie but holy, godly reality.  We are torn out of our existence and set down in the midst of the holy history of God on earth.  There God dealt with us, our needs and our sins, in judgment and grace.  It is not that God is the spectator and sharer of our present life, however important that is; but rather that we are the reverent listeners and participants in God’s action in the sacred story, the history of Christ on earth.  And only in so far as we are there, is God with us today also.

         ….It is in fact more important for us to know what God did to Israel, to His Son Jesus Christ, than to seek what God intends for us today.  The fact that Jesus Christ died is more important that the fact that I shall die, and the fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead is the sole ground of my hope that I, too, shall be raised on the Last Day.  Our salvation is “external to ourselves.”   I find no salvation in my life history, but only in the history of Jesus Christ.  Only he who allows himself to be found in Jesus Christ, in His incarnation, His cross, and His resurrection, is with God and God with him….We must learn to know the Scriptures again, as the Reformers and our fathers knew them.  We must not grudge the Scriptures first and foremost for the sake of our salvation.  But besides this, there are ample reasons that make this requirement exceedingly urgent.  How, for example, shall we ever obtain certainty and confidence in our personal and church activity if we do not stand on solid Biblical ground?  It is not our heart that determines our course, but God’s Word.”

Flying Geese on a Foggy Day (birds winter ). Photo by nen   

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Discipleship

“Those who follow Jesus’ commandment entirely, who let Jesus’ yoke rest on them without resistance, will find the burden they must bear to be light. In the gentle pressure of this yoke they will receive the strength to walk the right path without becoming weary.…Where will the call to discipleship lead those who follow it? What decisions and painful separations will it entail? We must take this question to Him who alone knows the answer. Only Jesus Christ, who bids us follow Him, knows where the path will lead. But we know that it will be a path full of mercy beyond measure. Discipleship is joy.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Intercessory Prayer

“A Christian community either lives by the intercessory prayers of its members for one another, or the community will be destroyed. I can no longer condemn or hate other Christians for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble they cause me. In intercessory prayer the face that may have been strange and intolerable to me is transformed into the face of one for whom Christ died, the face of a pardoned sinner. That is a blessed discovery for the Christian who is beginning to offer intercessory prayer for others. As far as we are concerned, there is no dislike, no personal tension, no disunity or strife that cannot be overcome by intercessory prayer. Intercessory prayer is the purifying bath into which the individual and the community must enter every day.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the loss of loved ones

“There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so. One must simply hold out and endure it. At first that sounds very hard, but at the same time it is also a great comfort. For to the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled one remains connected to the other person through it. It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness. God in no way fills it but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve -- even in pain -- the authentic relationship. Furthermore, the more beautiful and full the remembrances, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy. One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain.”


Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Worry

“Do not worry! Earthly goods deceive the human heart into believing that they give it security and freedom from worry. But in truth, they are what cause anxiety. The heart which clings to goods receives with them the choking burden of worry. Worry collects treasures, and treasures produce more worries. We desire to secure our lives with earthly goods; we want our worrying to make us worry-free, but the truth is the opposite. The chains which bind us to earthly goods, the clutches which hold the goods tight, are themselves worries.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Loving Your Enemies

“Words and thoughts are not enough. Doing good involves all the things of daily life. ‘If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink’ (Romans 12:20). In the same ways that brothers and sisters stand by each other in times of need, bind up each other’s wounds, ease each other’s pain, love of the enemy should do good to the enemy. Where in the world is there greater need, where are deeper wounds and pain than those of our enemies? Where is doing good more necessary and more blessed than for our enemies?”