Wednesday, 9 April 2014

'This is the end, for me the beginning of life'

On April 9th 1945 Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed by the Nazi's.

When he was summoned to go with the guards it is reported that he turned to one of his friends and said,

"This is the end, for me the beginning of life."

In one of the last letters he wrote whilst in prison he said,

'The God of Jesus Christ has nothing to do with what a God, as we imagine him, could do and ought to do. If we are to learn what God promises, and what he fulfils, we must keep reposing very long and very peacefully on the life, sayings, deeds, sufferings, and death of Jesus. It is certain that we may always live close to God and in the light of his presence, and that such living is an entirely new life for us; that nothing is then impossible for us, because all things are possible with God; that no earthly power can touch us without his will, and that danger and distress can only drive us closer to him. It is certain that we can claim nothing for ourselves, and may yet pray for everything; it is certain that our joy is hidden in suffering, and our life in death; it is certain that in all this we are in fellowship that sustains us. In Jesus God has said Yes and Amen to it all, and that Yes and Amen is the firm ground on which we stand.'

Today we remember his witness, his life, his work for the sake of the Gospel and the Kingdom of God. In refusing to bow his knee to Hitler he declared that his Lord was Jesus alone. Bonhoeffer declared that Jesus was God's Yes and Amen over all of human history, over the cosmos, over the heavens and the earth. Because Jesus is God's Yes and Amen, Jesus is the firm ground on which we can stand even when our lives feel shaken and uncertain.

And so today we can pray one of Bonhoeffer's prayers,

'Lord Jesus Christ,
You were poor
and in distress, a captive and forsaken as I am.
You know all man's troubles;
You abide with me
when all men fail me;
You remember and seek me;
It is your will that I should know you
and turn to you.
Lord, I hear your call and follow;
help me.'

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