Obama’s Prayer   Leave a comment

A reader asked that I include the text of Obama’s 2016 Prayer Breakfast speech, so here you go … with my remarks in red. Lela

President Barack Obama receives applauds from first lady Michelle Obama and other guests after speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. President Barack Obama spoke at the 2016 National Prayer Breakfast at the Washington Hilton Thursday, reiterating respect for religious minorities and contemplating the idea of fear. Also in attendance were first lady Michelle Obama, House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Housing Secretary Julian Castro, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and co-chairmen of the event Rep. Rob Aderholt, R-Ala., and Rep. Juan Vargas, D-Calif. Here is a transcript of the remarks by President Barack Obama at the 2016 National Prayer Breakfast, as provided by the White House.

 

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you so much. Thank you. (Applause.) You’re very kind. Thank you very much. Well, good morning.

AUDIENCE: Good morning.

THE PRESIDENT: Giving all praise and honor to God for bringing us together here this morning.

I want to thank everyone who helped organize this breakfast, especially our co-chairs, Robert and Juan, who embody the tradition of friendship, fellowship, and prayer. I will begin with a confession: I have always felt a tinge of guilt motorcading up here at the heart of D.C.’s rush hour. (Laughter.) I suspect that not all the commuters were blessing me as they waited to get to work. (Laughter.) But it’s for a good cause. A National Prayer Brunch doesn’t have the same ring to it. (Laughter.)

And Michelle and I are extremely honored, as always, to be with so many friends, with members of Congress, with faith leaders from across the country and around the world, to be with the Speaker, Leader. I want thank Mark and Roma for their friendship and their extraordinary story, and sharing those inspiring words. Andre, for sharing his remarkable gifts.

And on this occasion, I always enjoy reflecting on a piece of scripture that’s been meaningful to me or otherwise sustained me throughout the year. And lately, I’ve been thinking and praying on a verse from Second Timothy: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

As I explained yesterday, this is not the meaning of this Scripture, something simple to discover by a cursory reading of the subject passage in context.

https://aurorawatcherak.wordpress.com/2016/02/05/12282/

 

We live in extraordinary times. Times of extraordinary change. We’re surrounded by tectonic shifts in technology and in our economy; by destructive conflict, disruptions to our climate. And it all reshapes the way we work and the way we live. It’s all amplified by a media that is unceasing, and that feeds 24/7 on our ever-shrinking attention spans.

And as a student of history, I often remind people that the challenges that we face are not unique; that in fact, the threats of previous eras — civil war or world war or cold war, depressions or famines — those challenges put our own in perspective. Moreover, I believe that our unique strengths as a nation make us better equipped than others to harness this change to work for us, rather than against us.

And yet, the sheer rapidity of change, and the uncertainty that it brings, is real. The hardship of a family trying to make ends meet. Refugees fleeing from a war-torn home. Those things are real. Terrorism, eroding shorelines — those things are real. Even the very progress that humanity has made, the affluence, the stability that so many of us enjoy, far greater prosperity than any previous generation of humanity has experienced, shines a brighter light on those who still struggle, reveal the gap in prospects that exist for the children of the world.

And that gap between want and plenty, it gives us vertigo. It can make us afraid, not only of the possibility that progress will stall (or perhaps that we totally disagree on what is actual progress), but that maybe we have more to lose. And fear does funny things. Fear can lead us to lash out against those who are different, or lead us to try to get some sinister “other” under control (or perhaps want to bring the idiot part of our culture under control). Alternatively, fear can lead us to succumb to despair, or paralysis, or cynicism. (And studies are showing that we deeply mistrust government and almost every major institution in the country. I will suggest we are right to feel this way, more so since Obama became President). Fear can feed our most selfish impulses, and erode the bonds of community.

It is a primal emotion — fear — one that we all experience. And it can be contagious, spreading through societies, and through nations. And if we let it consume us, the consequences of that fear can be worse than any outward threat.

For me, and I know for so many of you, faith is the great cure for fear. Jesus is a good cure for fear. God gives believers the power, the love, the sound mind required to conquer any fear. And what more important moment for that faith than right now? What better time than these changing, tumultuous times to have Jesus standing beside us, steadying our minds, cleansing our hearts, pointing us towards what matters. (Applause.)

Yes, Mr. President, but Jesus points to matters of faith, not politics.

His love gives us the power to resist fear’s temptations. He gives us the courage to reach out to others across that divide, rather than push people away. He gives us the courage to go against the conventional wisdom and stand up for what’s right, even when it’s not popular. To stand up not just to our enemies but, sometimes, to stand up to our friends. He gives us the fortitude to sacrifice ourselves for a larger cause. Or to make tough decisions knowing that we can only do our best. Less of me, more of God. And then, to have the courage to admit our failings and our sins while pledging to learn from our mistakes and to try to do better.

There’s this great line in The Hiding Place. The Lutheran minister comes to warn the ten Booms that opposing the Nazis is against the Bible. After he leaves, Papa says something derogatory and Corrie tries to correct him. “He’s the pastor,” she said. “No!” Papa says. “Just because you find the mouse in the jar does not mean he’s a cookie.” Obama is using buzz words here. Don’t be fooled!

Certainly, during the course of this enormous privilege to have served as the President of the United States, that’s what faith has done for me. It helps me deal with the common, everyday fears that we all share. The main one I’m feeling right now is that our children grow up too fast. (Laughter.) They’re leaving. (Laughter.) That’s a tough deal. (Laughter.) And so, as a parent, you’re worrying about will some harm befall them, how are they going to manage without you, did you miss some central moment in their lives. Will they call? (Laughter.) Or text? (Laughter.) Each day, we’re fearful that God’s purpose becomes elusive, cloudy. We try to figure out how we fit into his broader plan. They’re universal fears that we have, and my faith helps me to manage those.

And then my faiths helps me to deal with some of the unique elements of my job. As one of the great departed heroes of our age, Nelson Mandela, once said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it… The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

And certainly, there are times where I’ve had to repeat that to myself while holding this office. When you hear from a parade of experts, just days after you’re elected, that another Great Depression is a very real possibility — that will get your attention. (Laughter.) When you tell a room full of young cadets that you’ve made a decision to send them into harm’s way, knowing that some of them might not return safely — that’s sobering. When you hold in your arms the mothers and fathers of innocent children gunned down in their classroom — that reminds you there’s evil in the world. And so you come to understand what President Lincoln meant when he said that he’d been driven to his knees by the overwhelming conviction that he had no place else to go.

And so like every President, like every leader, like every person, I’ve known fear. But my faith tells me that I need not fear death; that the acceptance of Christ promises everlasting life and the washing away of sins. (Applause.) If Scripture instructs me to “put on the full armor of God” so that when trouble comes, I’m able to stand, then surely I can face down these temporal setbacks, surely I can battle back doubts, surely I can rouse myself to action.

And should that faith waver, should I lose my way, I have drawn strength not only from a remarkable wife, not only from incredible colleagues and friends, but I have drawn strength from witnessing all across this country and all around this world, good people, of all faiths, who do the Lord’s work each and every day, Who wield that power and love, and sound mind to feed the hungry and heal the sick, to teach our children and welcome the stranger.

Think about the extraordinary work of the congregations and faith communities represented here today. Whether fighting global poverty or working to end the scourge of human trafficking, you are the leaders of what Pope Francis calls “this march of living hope.”

When the Earth cleaves in Haiti, Christians, Sikhs, and other faith groups sent volunteers to distribute aid, tend to the wounded, rebuild homes for the homeless.

When Ebola ravaged West Africa, Jewish, Christian, Muslim groups responded to the outbreak to save lives. And as the news fanned the flames of fear, churches and mosques responded with a powerful rebuke, welcoming survivors into their pews.

When nine worshippers were murdered in a Charleston church basement, it was people of all faiths who came together to wrap a shattered community in love and understanding.

When Syrian refugees seek the sanctuary of our shores, it’s the faithful from synagogues, mosques, temples, and churches who welcome them, the first to offer blankets and food and open their homes. Even now, people of different faiths and beliefs are coming together to help people suffering in Flint.

And then there’s the most — less spectacular, more quiet efforts of congregations all across this country just helping people. Seeing God in others. And we’re driven to do this because we’re driven by the value that so many of our faiths teach us -– I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper. As Christians, we do this compelled by the Gospel of Jesus — the command to love God, and love one another.

Of course, Jesus did not say “Go into the world and feed people and stop human trafficking”, but “go into the world and make disciples … teaching them what I have taught you ….”

And so, yes, like every person, there are times where I’m fearful. But my faith and, more importantly, the faith that I’ve seen in so many of you, the God I see in you, that makes me inevitably hopeful about our future. I have seen so many who know that God has not given us a spirit of fear. He has given us power, and love, and a sound mind.

We see that spirit in people like Pastor Saeed Abedini, imprisoned for no crime other than holding God in his heart. And last year, we prayed that he might be freed. And this year, we give thanks that he is home safe. (Applause.)

We pray for God’s protection for all around the world who are not free to practice their faith, including Christians who are persecuted, or who have been driven from their ancient homelands by unspeakable violence. (Applause.) And just as we call on other countries to respect the rights of religious minorities, we, too, respect the right of every single American to practice their faith freely. (Applause.) (Of course, if you’re the Little Sisters of Jesus, you have to pay for others to murder their babies, in direct violation of your beliefs. If you’re the former owners of Kate’s Cakes, you have lost your business, had every dime of your savings confiscated and are required to go to re-education classes for the simple “crime” of obeying your God’s command to flee sexual immorality). For this is what each of us is called on to do: To seek our common humanity in each other. To make sure our politics and our public discourse reflect that same spirit of love and sound mind. (Okay, hit PAUSE. Who made President Obama the arbiter of what politics or public discourse is actually reflective of the Holy Spirit’s gift of love and a sound mind? After all, the guy who wrote this is also the guy who said “flee sexual immorality”). To assume the best in each other and not just the worst — and not just at the National Prayer Breakfast. To begin each of our works from the shared belief that all of us want what’s good and right for our country and our future. (I don’t actually believe that Obama wants what is best or right for out country’s future. I think he’s fine with most of the country living under tyranny so long as his vision of the national is realized.)

We can draw such strength from the quiet moments of heroism around us every single day. (Unless it’s Jack Phillips quietly saying “No, I won’t do what you want because I choose to obey God rather than man). And so let me close with two such stories that I’ve come to know just over the past week.

A week ago, I spoke at a ceremony held at the Israeli Embassy for the first time, honoring the courage of people who saved Jews during the Holocaust. And one of the recipients was the grandson — or the son of an American soldier who had been captured by the Nazis. So a group of American soldiers are captured, and their captors ordered Jewish POWs to identify themselves. And one sergeant, a Christian named Roddie Edmonds, from Tennessee, ordered all American troops to report alongside them. They lined up in formation, approximately 200 of them, and the Nazi colonel said, “I asked only for the Jewish POWs,” and said, “These can’t all be Jewish.” And Master Sergeant Edmonds stood there and said, “We are all Jews.” And the colonel took out his pistol and held it to the Master Sergeant’s head and said, “Tell me who the Jews are.” And he repeated, “We are all Jews.” And faced with the choice of shooting all those soldiers, the Nazis relented. And so, through his moral clarity, through an act of faith, Sergeant Edmonds saved the lives of his Jewish brothers-in-arms. (Applause.) (And, Edmonds, assuming he’s not a figment of Obama’s speech writers, deserves kudos.)

A second story. Just yesterday, some of you may be aware I visited a mosque in Baltimore to let our Muslim-American brothers and sisters know that they, too, are Americans and welcome here. (Applause.) And there I met a Muslim-American named Rami Nashashibi, who runs a nonprofit working for social change in Chicago. And he forms coalitions with churches and Latino groups and African Americans in this poor neighborhood in Chicago. And he told me how the day after the tragedy in San Bernardino happened, he took his three young children to a playground in the Marquette Park neighborhood, and while they were out, the time came for one of the five daily prayers that are essential to the Muslim tradition. And on any other day, he told me, he would have immediately put his rug out on the grass right there and prayed.

But that day, he paused. He feared any unwelcome attention he might attract to himself and his children. And his seven year-old daughter asked him, “What are you doing, Dad? Isn’t it time to pray?” And he thought of all the times he had told her the story of the day that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rabbi Robert Marx, and 700 other people marched to that very same park, enduring hatred and bigotry, dodging rocks and bottles, and hateful words, in order to challenge Chicago housing segregation, and to ask America to live up to our highest ideals.

And so, at that moment, drawing from the courage of men of different religions, of a different time, Rami refused to teach his children to be afraid. Instead, he taught them to be a part of that legacy of faith and good conscience. “I want them to understand that sometimes faith will be tested,” he told me, “and that we will be asked to show immense courage, like others have before us, to make our city, our country, and our world a better reflection of all our ideals.” And he put down his rug and he prayed. (Applause.) (And nobody challenged him? So this was all in his head and there was no bravery needed. Sorry, but someone needs to point that out. Most of the time, if you aren’t looking for bigotry, you won’t find it.)

Now, those two stories, they give me courage and they give me hope. And they instruct me in my own Christian faith. I can’t imagine a moment in which that young American sergeant expressed his Christianity more profoundly than when, confronted by his own death, he said “We are all Jews.” (Applause.) I can’t imagine a clearer expression of Jesus’s teachings. I can’t imagine a better expression of the peaceful spirit of Islam than when a Muslim father, filled with fear, drew from the example of a Baptist preacher and a Jewish rabbi to teach his children what God demands. (Applause.)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. I pray that by His grace, we all find the courage to set such examples in our own lives — not just during this wonderful gathering and fellowship, not just in the public piety that we profess, but in those smaller moments when it’s difficult, when we’re challenged, when we’re angry, when we’re confronted with someone who doesn’t agree with us, when no one is watching. I pray, as Roma* so beautifully said, that our differences ultimately are bridged; that the God that is in each of us comes together, and we don’t divide.

I pray that our leaders will always act with humility and generosity. I pray that my failings are forgiven. I pray that we will uphold our obligation to be good stewards of God’s creation — this beautiful planet. I pray that we will see every single child as our own, each worthy of our love and of our compassion. And I pray we answer Scripture’s call to lift up the vulnerable, and to stand up for justice, and ensure that every human being lives in dignity.

That’s my prayer for this breakfast, and for this country, in the years to come.

May God bless you, and may He continue to bless this country that we love. (Applause.)

Posted February 6, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in politics

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Dems Go Crazy   5 comments

PHOTO: Pictured (L-R) are Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton in Osage, Iowa, Jan. 5, 2016 and Sen. Bernie Sanders in Las Vegas, Dec. 28, 2015.I am totally opposed to socialism because I’m smart enough to realize that you can’t give everything to everybody just by soaking the “rich” and expect to achieve any sort of stability. High taxation systems are not compatible with liberty.

So Hillary is losing her national lead against Bernie Sanders. I say “Good!”

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/hillary-clinton-losing-national-lead-bernie-sanders-poll/story?id=36733595

The 2016 Presidential race might, possibly, be between a radical ideologue and a conservative. Nice! Not that Hillary is not a radical ideologue, but she’s better at couching her radical anti-liberty ideals in more moderate tones, which makes it more likely that people will not recognize the liberty-death-spiral that she represents.

The hope is that the American people, confronted with the insanity of socialism, will finally see how reasonable conservative views really are.

And, if we don’t … if we prefer to become Greece … well, that won’t last very long. By the time my kids are the age I am now, I suspect we will have had a third American revolution and something other than the United States of America will exist in its place.

Bernie Sanders is a great argument for why democracy is a bad idea.

Obama’s Bible Manipulation   3 comments

So I’m reading the President’s prayer breakfast speech ….

President Barack Obama receives applauds from first lady Michelle Obama and other guests after speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. Yes, reading it because I found a long time ago that Obama is less charming read rather than viewed.

And I decided to post the real text of his subject Biblical passage because … well, verses taken out of context can be manipulated.

Paul the apostle was in prison in Rome, largely abandoned by everybody, when he wrote this letter to Timothy,  his beloved disciple. It would be Paul’s last letter and I think he knew that.

It’s not brave if you’re not scared and I think Paul was terrified. Understanding the situation might have helped President Obama to understand the passage, but it also would have interfered with his manipulation of God’s message.

2 Timothy 1:3 I am thankful to God, whom I have served with a clear conscience as my ancestors did, when I remember you in my prayers as I do constantly night and dayAs I remember your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I recall your sincere faith that was alive first in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice, and I am sure is in you.

Because of this I remind you to rekindle God’s gift that you possess through the laying on of my hands. 1:7 For God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me, a prisoner for his sake, but by God’s power accept your share of suffering for the gospelHe is the one who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not based on our works but on his own purpose and grace, granted to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but now made visible through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus. He has broken the power of death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel! For this gospel was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher. Because of this, in fact, I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, because I know the one in whom my faith is set and I am convinced that he is able to protect what has been entrusted to me until that day.

Hold to the standard of sound words that you heard from me and do so with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Protect that good thing entrusted to you, through the Holy Spirit who lives within us.

Paul is referring to the gospel, of course — which I’m fairly certain President Obama — based on the entirely of his speech — would find entirely intolerant.

Great Apocalyptic at a Low Low Price   Leave a comment

Life As We Knew ItLife As We Knew It is on Kindle Countdown this week. You only have 23 hours until the price goes up to $1.99. Don’t miss out!

On Being a Racist   Leave a comment

Related!

aurorawatcherak

(Hubby Brad is making one of his rare guest appearances. Lela)

Hello, my name is Brad and I am a racist.

I must be a racist because the barista at Starbuck’s scribbled “Race Together” on the side of my cup. Apparently I look like a racist. Apparently Lela does not because her cup just had her name scrawled on the side along with the secret code for how she likes her coffee. Her friend Susan, who looks very Alaska Native, was also not blessed with the invitation to have a conversation with a white coffee-dispensing college student about race. My friend PJ — RACIST!

Lela and I are generally opposed to putting our images out on social media. It’s not like the NSA doesn’t know who we are or what we look like, but we don’t want to make it any easier for them. You’ll just have to take my…

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Posted February 4, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Race with Us? Really?   Leave a comment

This is from a while ago, but it and Brad’s companion piece are worth the reblog.

aurorawatcherak

Pouring my coffee over her head occurred to me!

In case you don’t know, Starbuck’s has decided to instruct the rest of America on race relations in this country. In doing so, they’ve managed to lose my business for a while.

RACE WITH US!

It’s what was scribbled on the side of my husband’s coffee cup last night. It was also scrawled on the side of his friend PJ’s cup. We ran into PJ and Susan in the parking lot of Barnes & Noble. Susan and I talked quilting while PJ and Brad discussed how the early spring is messing up their snow machining. The guys got coffee and the gals got coffee. Susan is Athabaskan Indian. I’m part-American Indian (but white people don’t usually see it unless it’s pointed out or if I’m with someone for them to compare me to and see similarities). Brad is Irish-American, I think…

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Posted February 4, 2016 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

No Cheap Grace   2 comments

The Open Book Blog Hop is continuing our exploration of Courage. You can join us —

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer was not raised in a particularly radical environment. Born into an aristocratic family, his father was a prominent neurologist and professor of psychiatry at the University of Berlin and his mother was daughter of the preacher at the court of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Dietrich BonhoefferAll eight children were raised in a liberal, nominally religious environment and were encouraged to dabble in great literature and the fine arts. Bonhoeffer’s skill at the piano led some in his family to believe he was headed for a career in music. They weren’t pleased when, at age 14, Dietrich announced he intended to become a minister and theologian.

Bonhoeffer graduated at age 21 from the University of Berlin. He spent some months in Spain as an assistant pastor to a German congregation, then returned to Germany to write a dissertation, which would grant him the right to a university appointment. He spent a year in America at New York’s Union Theological Seminary, before returning to the post of lecturer at the University of Berlin.

Hitler rose in power while Bonhoeffer was starting his career. He became chancellor of Germany in January 1933 (Bonhoeffer was 27), and president a year and a half later. The German people had been so despondent after their defeat of World War I and the subsequent economic depression that the charismatic Hitler appeared to be the nation’s answer to prayer for a majority of Germans.

“The time is fulfilled for the German people of Hitler. It is because of Hitler that Christ, God the helper and redeemer, has become effective among us. … Hitler is the way of the Spirit and the will of God for the German people to enter the Church of Christ.” Hermann Gruner, German pastor

Another pastor put it more succinctly: “Christ has come to us through Adolph Hitler.”

One exception to this love-fest was theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was determined not only to refute this idea but also to topple Hitler, even if it meant killing him. Hitler’s anti-Semitic rhetoric and actions intensified—as did his opposition, which included theologian Karl Barth, pastor Martin Niemoller, and the young Bonhoeffer. Together with other pastors and theologians, they organized the Confessing Church, which announced publicly in its Barmen Declaration (1934) its allegiance first to Jesus Christ:

“We repudiate the false teaching that the church can and must recognize yet other happenings and powers, personalities and truths as divine revelation alongside this one Word of God. … “

Bonhoeffer had written The Cost of Discipleship (1937), a call to more faithful and radical obedience to Christ and a severe rebuke of comfortable Christianity:

“Cheap grace is preaching forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession. … Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

During this time, Bonhoeffer was teaching pastors in an underground seminary, Finkenwalde because the government had banned him from teaching openly. After the seminary was discovered and closed, the Confessing Church became increasingly reluctant to speak out against Hitler, and moral opposition proved increasingly ineffective, so Bonhoeffer began to change his strategy. To this point he had been a pacifist, and he had tried to oppose the Nazis through religious action and moral persuasion.

I can understand how and why he reached this conclusion, though I disagree with it and I believe Bonhoeffer himself came to realize the error of his thoughts at a later time. Bonhoeffer signed up with the German secret service to serve as a double agent. While traveling to church conferences across Europe, he was supposed to be collecting information about the places he visited, but he was actually trying to help Jews escape Nazi oppression. That part I actually agree with, but Bonhoeffer also became a part of a plot to overthrow, and later to assassinate, Hitler. If ever a world leader deserved killing it was Hitler, but I can’t find Biblical justification for a Christian to be involved in the plot.

As his tactics were changing, Bonhoeffer traveled to America to become a guest lecturer, but he continued to feel deeply responsible for his country. Within months of his arrival, he wrote theologian Reinhold Niebuhr,

“I have made a mistake in coming to America. I must live through this difficult period in our national history with the Christian people of Germany. I will have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people.”

Bonhoeffer, though privy to various plots on Hitler’s life, was never at the center of the plans. His resistance efforts mostly centered around rescuing Jews, which the God of the Bible I know would thoroughly approve. Of course, Hitler didn’t. On an April afternoon in 1943, two men arrived in a black Mercedes and drove Bonhoeffer to Tegel Prison.

Bonhoeffer spent two years in prison, corresponding with family and friends, pastoring fellow prisoners, and reflecting on the meaning of “Jesus Christ for today.” As the months progressed, be began outlining a new theology, penning enigmatic lines that had been inspired by his reflections on the nature of Christian action in history.

“God lets himself be pushed out of the world on to the cross,” he wrote. “He is weak and powerless in the world, and that is precisely the way, the only way, in which he is with us and helps us. [The Bible] … makes quite clear that Christ helps us, not by virtue of his omnipotence, but by virtue of his weakness and suffering. … The Bible directs man to God’s powerlessness and suffering; only the suffering God can help.”

In another passage, he wrote:

“To be a Christian does not mean to be religious in a particular way, to make something of oneself (a sinner, a penitent, or a saint) on the basis of some method or other, but to be a man—not a type of man, but the man that Christ creates in us. It is not the religious act that makes the Christian, but participation in the sufferings of God in the secular life.”

Eventually, Bonhoeffer was transferred from Tegel to Buchenwald and then to the extermination camp at Flossenbürg. On April 9, 1945, one month before Germany surrendered, he was hanged with six other resisters. He was 39.

A decade later, a camp doctor who witnessed Bonhoeffer’s hanging described the scene:

“The prisoners … were taken from their cells, and the verdicts of court martial read out to them. Through the half-open door in one room of the huts, I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer, before taking off his prison garb, kneeling on the floor praying fervently to his God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a prayer and then climbed the steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued in a few seconds. In the almost 50 years that I have worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”

Bonhoeffer’s prison correspondence was eventually edited and published as Letters and Papers from Prison, which inspired much controversy and the emboldened the “death of God” movement of the 1960s. It’s highly unlikely from Bonhoeffer’s other correspondence and in the estimation of his close friend and chief biographer, Eberhard Bethge that Bonhoeffer meant, even under the stress of prison, to imply God was powerless or absent from the world. It is a more likely interpretation that Bonhoeffer had returned to his non-violent roots. Bonhoeffer’s Cost of Discipleship  and Life Together(about Christian community, based on his teaching at the underground seminary) have remained devotional classics.

There are times when courage means holding onto Christ as tightly as you can and allowing the world to roll over you so you can show the world that the One who is in you is greater than all the power of Satan in the world. I thank Pastor Bonhoeffer for showing me an example of that courage.

Check out what Nicole Sorrell has to say on this subject and check out her book.

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