It ends up that 2021 didn’t exactly bring the fresh start we were probably all hoping and praying for. It wasn’t as if we turned the page on the calendar and we got a completely blank slate.
Our country is in desperate need of healing.
Though that work cannot begin without repentance and acknowledging our pain.
Someone I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Probably because one of the people who broke into the Capitol was wearing a shirt that said “Camp Auschwitz.” At least 1.1 million people were killed by the Nazis at Auschwitz. It was a disturbing message that person was sending to the world.
So yes, I’ve been thinking about Dietrich Bonhoeffer in light of this. Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran Pastor and Theologian. He was also an anti-Nazi dissent who was one of the founders of the Confessing Church in Germany. Bonhoeffer was executed by the Nazis in 1945 because of his involvement in an assassination attempt of Hitler. He was executed just days before the Flossenburg Concentration Camp was liberated by American troops.
I wonder what Bonhoeffer would have to say about what’s happening in our country. I wonder what he would have to say about how faithful Christians should respond to violence and hate. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a book called The Cost of Discipleship. That idea is actually in the United Church of Christ Statement of Faith too: “You call us into your church to accept the cost and joy of discipleship.” Because there is a cost to Christian discipleship. Even if we don’t consider the cost much, it’s there.
Bonhoeffer wrote, “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
It’s not easy to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. There are joys and costs of discipleship.
Maybe we are more aware of this than ever before. And that’s a start on the path to true repentance and forgiveness.
(This Week’s Thoughts 1.14.21)