Daily Devotions

I’d like to share with you reflections on some of the thoughts of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  May these days grant us blessings and peace through our unity in devotions, study, and prayer.  May God grant you good health and may grace abound. 

Pastor Kathy

 

 

Monday, March 23, 2020

As you read today’s writing and reflection, you may want to light a candle.

 

Shelter

By Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

But should you grant us joy once more

in this world and its radiant sun,

then the past let us gratefully recall

and to you entirely our lives devote.

 

May warmly and brightly glow the candles

you have brought into our darkness today;

if it be possible, bring us together again.

We are sure: your light illuminates our night.

 

When silence profound now spreads itself around us,

may we yet hear that full voice

of the world unseen around us,

the hymn of praise sung by all your children.

 

By benevolent powers wondrously sheltered,

we, confident, await what may come.

With us God abides, evening and morn,

more surely still with each dawning day.

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as he sat in his jail cell, knew well what it was to be sequestered. As we find ourselves sheltered at home, feeling isolated, cut off from the familiar, we can rest securely, as did Dietrich, that God is the one in whom we can find ultimate shelter, the one with whom we are intimately connected, the one who is there with us to bring light into our darkness.

 

God of Light, shine the light of your love into our hearts as we watch and wait with grateful hearts as each day dawns.  Amen.



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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

As you read today’s writing and reflection, you may want to light a candle.

 

Light

By Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

In me it is dark, but in you there is light.

I am lonely, but you do not leave me.

I am faint hearted, but with you there is help.

I am restless, but with you there is peace.

In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience.

I do not understand your ways, but you know the right way for me.

 

It is very difficult for us to understand all that we are facing at this difficult time.  We may feel overwhelmed, frustrated, alone, angry.  God gets it.  God understands and does not forsake us.  Even when we have unending questions with few answers, we can trust that God abides with us and watches over us.  Dietrich, even in his imprisonment, continued to share the Gospel, the Light of Christ with those around him.  Let us reach out to one another granting the assurance of God’s presence with us.

 

Almighty God, your ways are higher than our ways.  Thank goodness!  As we struggle in our human understanding of things, our human managing of our lives, may we remember that you are the one with the ultimate wisdom and power.  Help us to open ourselves to that wisdom and power with trust in you.  Amen.

 

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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Today, you may want to contemplate on the cross, or perhaps have a small piece of bread as you reflect.

 

Faith

By Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

We receive only as much faith from God

as we need for the present day.

Faith is the daily bread we receive from God.

With God, one does not just mark time,

rather, one walks on a path.

 

Just think of how frightening, how challenging, how disheartening it was for Dietrich after his arrest and imprisonment.  He must have had days when he felt empty, yet he persevered.  When it feels like all of our resources have been tapped, God is there to grant faith for the day.  Faith is not something we have to muster on our own, but is a gift from God granted in the measure we need.  We need only let ourselves be the vessels, the conduit of that faith for the sake ourselves as well as those around us.God is walking with us, watching over us every step of the way.

 

Faithful God, when our spiritual tanks are running on empty and our faith is wavering, fill us anew with the power and strength of your Holy Spirit, providing us with the daily bread of faith to endure as we continue down the path wherever it may lead and through whatever we may face.  Amen.

 

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Thursday, March 26, 2020

I invite you, if you have them, to hold a prayer cross or wrap yourself in a prayer shawl for today’s reflection.

 

Prayer

By Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

Prayer is a person’s strength.

To pray is to draw breath from God.

To pray means to confide in God.

Prayer is the heart of Christian life.

 

As you reflect on today’s writing, take a deep breath in and let it out slowly.  Many who are sick struggle to do that very simple task.  Do it again, remembering and giving thanks that your breath is a gift from God.  When we pray, as Dietrich says, we draw breath from God, the same breath that God breathed into humanity at the time of creation.  When we pray, we unite our breath with that of all humanity with whom we are connected as God’s created beings.  We bring all that we are and have before God, trusting that God hears our prayers, even when prayers are hard to muster or difficult to speak.

 

God from whom we draw the breath of life, we give you thanks that we can come to you in the fullness of whom you created us to be, and that you are faithful to hear us and continue to be near us.  Amen

 

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Friday, March 27, 2020

As you begin today, you may want to take a moment or two to simply look at yourself in a mirror.

 

Who Am I?

By Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

Who am I?  They often tell me

that when I step out of my cell

calmly and cheerfully and firmly

like a manor lord from his mansion.

 

Who am I?  They often tell me

that I speak freely and cordially and

clearly with my guards,

as if I were the one giving orders.

 

Who am I?  They often tell me

that I am bearing these days of misfortune

with equanimity, smiling and proud,

like someone accustomed to victory.

 

Bonhoeffer seemed to struggle with his identity during his imprisonment.  He, in this writing, based his identity on how he thought others saw him.  During this time of social distancing, when we are not such public creatures, when we are probably not functioning in the same capacity in our jobs, or relating to people in the more familiar, even habitual ways, we may wonder what our identity is now.  Who are we?  As individuals?  As families?  As church?  One thing is sure.  God sees us as God’s beloved children created in God’s image.  In baptism we are named and claimed by God, with the promise that we are sealed by the promised Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.  It is a gift, an identity that can never be taken away.  Let us live into that identity.

 

God our Creator, we give you thanks for creating us in your image and for the gift of relationship with our fellow human beings.  During this difficult time, help us to remember that we are united in and through you, celebrating and claiming our baptismal promise.  Amen.

 

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Saturday, March 28, 2020

You may want to have that mirror handy again and/or light a candle for today’s reflection.

 

Darkness

By Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

Am I really that which others say I am?

Or am I only that which I know about myself?

Restless, longing, sick, like a bird in a cage,

gasping for breath as if someone were strangling me,

hungry for colors, flowers, for the song of birds,

thirsting for kind words, for human nearness,

trembling in anger at arbitrariness and petty insults,

driven by anticipation of great things,

helplessly worried about friends infinitely removed,

too weary and empty for praying, thinking, creating,

exhausted and ready to say farewell to everything?

Who am I?  This one or the other one?

Am I this person today and a different one tomorrow?

Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others

and a despicably pathetic weakling before myself?

Or is what is left withing me like a vanquished army

fleeing in disarray before the victory that has already been won?

 

Who am I?  Such lonely questions mock me.

Whoever I am, you know me, and I am yours, O God!

 

Bonhoeffer again struggles with his identity.  Who is he?  The one who others see (as from yesterday’s reflection)?  Or the one known only to him?  It is very tempting to want to make ourselves look good on the outside while we are crumbling on the inside.  We want to appear strong and keep a positive attitude. It can be so very difficult to open ourselves up, to share with others in our struggles.  Who am I?  We are God’s.  God knows us outside and inside, and loves us still.

 

God of Love, as we face all the challenges before us, help us to remember that we are not alone, that you abide with us always, especially through those around us.  Help us to bear one another up in love.  Amen.

 

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Sunday, March 29, 2020

If you have photos on your phone or a photo album available, flip through the pictures as you begin this reflection.

 

Friendship

By Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

There is hardly a feeling that makes us happier than to sense

that we are able to be something for others.

Nor is it numbers that matter here,

but intensity.

Ultimately the most important thing in life

is precisely our human relationships.

 

Can you imagine what it was like for Dietrich to be in prison, locked away from his family and friends?  Perhaps we can, these days.  Yet he did not have the technology we have today to keep him in touch with others.  He wrote letters, what we now call “snail mail,” but as that name implies, it took time for those letters to be written, sent, and received.  He didn’t have photos of friends and family to decorate the walls of his cell; no hundreds of pictures to swipe through one by one.  Sure, he developed relationships in prison, friendships that also helped to encourage and sustain him, but it likely wasn’t the same as those at home.

 

As we are physically separated from one another, let us give thanks to God for all the ways we have been granted to keep in touch, and let us make good use of them for the sake of all of our relationships, our emotional and spiritual well-being.  If you are feeling lonely, chances are that one of you friends is, too.  Send a text or email, or even snail mail.  Make a phone call.  You’ll both have your spirits lifted.  By the way, I do believe God does instant messaging, so no reason not totake advantage of that.

 

God of Love, you created us as social beings designed to be in relationship with one another.  During this time when we may seem lost and alone, may we remember that you are ever present with us, and that you have given us the gift of family and friends who are only a call away.  Help us to keep our friendship alive and fresh by using the resources available to us to share our concerns, to offer words of encouragement, to laugh, and to share the love we have received from you.  Amen.

 

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Monday, March 30, 2020

If you want, do a few simple exercises to remind us of the strength God gives us in our physical bodies.

 

Strength

By Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

The essence of optimism is not this or that view of the present situation,

but strength,

the strength to hope where others yield to resignation,

the strength to keep one’s head high when everything seems to go wrong,

the strength to endure setbacks,

the strength always to claim the future for oneself instead of yielding to its opponent.

 

Bonhoeffer had every reason to become despondent in his imprisonment.  He likely understood that his future was bleak, yet he was able to be optimistic in the manner of strength.  It isn’t about putting on rose colored glasses and saying that all will be well and all will be well.  Rather it is to remain hopeful, to endure setbacks, to look for and give thanks for the glimpses of God’s kingdom and the moments of grace in each day.

 

Almighty God, grant us your strength, bring us hope and endurance as we face the challenges of the day.  Open our eyes and our ears to hear and see your work among us, the good even in the presence of things gone wrong, the moments of blessing and grace.  Give us grateful hearts and open hands to receive all that you graciously grant to us.  Amen.

 

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