Archives For Lent

Beach with high swell

.

“I’m a nobody”, said the somebody,

.     on the sunny side of the shore.

The water’s edge;

The precipice;

The moon and its tidal call.

“The somebody”, said the nobody,

“Might breathe this in with awe

But, not me,

I’m looking out to sea

Beyond the rhythm of it all

Through pierced time

.   the living Word,

.   like this water we here see,

.   pours forth,

.   turns up,

.   as waves rise,

.   when a storm arrives

.   and rain begins to fall.

From beyond this comes the Faithful One,

.   whose faithful ones He seeks,

.    He who shows the scars of the crucified

Of thorns, of nails, of spear, on side, on hands, on feet.”


(©RL2017)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1933 ‘Come, O Rescuer’:

‘Lift up your heads, the host of you who are bowed down, humiliated, despondent, like a beaten
army with heads hanging. The battle is not lost – raise your heads, the victory is yours![…]
This is no time to shake your head, to doubt and look away –

freedom, salvation, redemption is coming. Look up and wait!
Raise your heads! Be strong and without fear! – for Christ is coming!’

(Collected Sermons, Isabel Best [ed.] Fortress Press p.114)


Ash & Ambrose

February 10, 2016 — Leave a comment

Cross Ash Wednesday Word Art

bonhoeffer_lent-and-easter-relfections

The day before Ash Wednesday is Pancake day. It announces the first day of lent.

It means that we get to eat pancakes. More importantly it’s a time when we commit to giving up a luxury for forty days. This year we’ve chosen to fast from console games. That said, we’re not all that religious about it. For instance, because our fast is not food related we count Sundays, whereas traditionally those days are free from the Lenten commitment. Our aim is simplicity. We draw out the material and spiritual benefits of lent for our kids in the hope that they will see and experience them in a healthy way.It doesn’t have to be complicated.

Participating in Lent also connects us to the broader ecumenical Christian community, both past and present (hence the Bonhoeffer book in the header). Lent lends itself to us as a challenge to participate in something greater than ourselves. To be shown that life without some non-essential things is still a life well lived. The season officially marks out a time for remembering the importance of grace, forgiveness, repentance, gratitude, and self-denial.

Barth makes this same point in one of his later sermons on 1 Corinthians 15:50-58:

‘What is Easter?
Easter is Jesus as he is, Jesus as Victor.
Paul describes it in 1 Corinthians 15:50-58:
Thanks be to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
It is not enlightenment, nor a model to imitate, nor a religion, nor a church that gives us victory.
It is Jesus…by God’s act Easter happens and Jesus is revealed as victor, there the promise is fulfilled that death is consumed in the victory…because Easter is, because Jesus lives, because the last trumpet sounds, because the all-deciding Word of God has been spoken. We can know the why, and we can take the admonition to heart. Or should we really not know it? Then let us seek, ask, and knock at the door until we know it, much better’ [i]
(Karl Barth, Sermon April 4th, 1920)

Barth reaches for the theological ground he shared with Johann Christoph Blumhardt and his son Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt.

The latter who wrote:

‘Even if our age has become riddled with evil, even if death runs rampant on the earth, we will not accept these as final facts.
We must not sleepily say, “It is the Lord’s will. What will be, will be.”
No, we must resist and, like Moses, throw ourselves into the breach […] Salvation and healing are the will of God. To the devil and to all powers of hell, which accusingly proclaim the hopelessness of our situation, we will cry out, “You will not win! We know this because we know Jesus, who is victorious over every devil.” [citing Matthew 4:4] [ii]

If we fuse the two quotes into one. Together they formulate, frame and direct the Lenten road.

Paul, Barth and Blumhardt set the tone by helping us kick-start our journey.

Traditional Shrove Tuesday prayer:

Mercifully hear our prayers oh, Lord, and spare all those who confess their sins to you; that they, whose consciences by sin are accused, by your merciful pardon may be absolved; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
[Source]

Sources:

[i] Barth, K. & Willimon,W.2009 The Early Preaching of Karl Barth: Fourteen Sermons Westminster John Knox Press, pp.133-139

[ii] Blumhardt, C.F Jesus is the Victor Kindle Ebook ed. Copyright 2011 by the Plough Publishing House. Used with permission.

The Tomb

April 4, 2015 — 2 Comments

Easter_2015_GVL_RL2

     …

 

He avoided crowds that wanted to crown Him as a king. Now, here He is handing Himself over to a crowd that wants to kill Him?

This is a dark day.

‘Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.”
(John 18:4-5, ESV)

The Gospels were not designed. All I have, in fact, all we have, is what was spoken and recorded for future generations to read; a treasure to be valued, passed on and cherished. Words about events that are handed down with the utmost reverence and verbal accuracy.

Each are what they are, a gritty recount of events that apprehended the people of the day. Yet, in its uniqueness, their shared message still speaks life into us. Encountered by God on the cross; God in the tomb, Jesus Christ resurrected. God giving us His best.

Moving with us, towards us, breaching the cultural-historical divide;in step with each step. Slowly breaking through our stubborn superiority and control. Speaking so that we might learn to grasp even a glimpse of this significance of those precious days and the ones yet to come.

Christus Invictus!

Three pierced.

Wrists. Feet. Side.

Three days.

Bruised, whip-shredded. Dead. Crucified.

Three words.

Jesus is alive!

Holy Week_three nails_RL2015_2

‘For God so loved the world,  that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him…This is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil…But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
– (John 3:16-21, ESV)

Or, as summarised astutely by Karl Barth in C.D. II:1, page 274:

‘God does not will to be God without us, and He does not will that we should be without Him’

RL2015

{My original haiku, before I had the idea of pushing myself to only use 16 words, can be read over on my instagram page: here}

 

 …

 

Enveloping condensation, are you up for conversation?
Past the trees, through the green.
Emblazoned forests.
Embracing fog. [ii]

Emblazoned Forests_RL2015_GVL

Connected reflection:

Dietrech Bonhoeffer, 3rd Tuesday of Lent, 1929:

‘When we have fully renounced making something of ourselves, we fall completely into God’s arms and what I call this-worldliness, namely, living in an abundance of tasks, questions, successes and failures, experiences, and helplessness.
We then take seriously no longer our own suffering, but the suffering of God in the world. We watch with Christ in Gethsemane. This, I think, is faith.
One thing remains clear or at least sensed; doubt and temptation about the meaningfulness of being cast to and fro, of being at the mercy of things, will not cease as long as we remain focused on ourselves, as long as in one form or another “the Other” does not step into our lives’  [ii]

With the way things have been for me and my family lately I haven’t had a whole lot of time to keep up with my Bonhoeffer readings for Lent. I’ve also been focusing a lot on taking our home schoolers through the gospel of Luke for home-school, hoping to complete the journey by the end of term one. So, believe it or not, I kind of landed on this third-Tuesday-of-Lent reflection perfectly.

I like a lot of what Bonhoeffer has to say here.

He is pushing through the worthlessness of things that we seem to take our worth from. Encouraging us to look towards the “Other”. Loving neighbour, not as another god, but loving through God. The latter who, through his constant covenants and promises, emboldens us in His revelation emblazoned in Jesus Christ. Here God proves His worthiness (not that He too, but chooses as Barth says, ‘decisively’ to do so) and thus becomes the only true living source of worth and worthiness for us.

 


[i] RL2015

[ii] Bonhoeffer, D. Third Tuesday of Lent in Reiss, J. (Ed.) 2012 God is on the Cross Westminster John Knox Press, (pp.46-47)

 

‘There is no safety if we venture an inch over the boundary line; indeed, little allowances are more dangerous than greater compliances, since conscience does not receive a wound. Yet we are undone, and fall little by little.’
– (Charles H. Spurgeon, 1883) [i]

Slippery Slope

 

 


Source:

[i]Spurgeon, C.H. 1883, ‘Flowers from  Puritan’s Garden:Augustine’s Story’ p.68

Image credit: Photo is mine. It is of a river walk nearby.