Tag Archives: Meditation

Beginning a Meditation on Psalm 119

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, September 15, 2017

Psa 119-1 those who are blameless, road

Beginning a Meditation on Psalm 119

Psalm 119 is a psalm that talks about the Word of God. Scripture, the Law, God’s decrees, His way, commandments, statutes, promises, and more. Each verse of this acrostic psalm mentions God’s Word in some way. What a natural passage for Bonhoeffer to write about and concentrate on, since he was so devoted to praying and meditating on the Scripture.

How sad it is that Dietrich Bonhoeffer only finished commenting on 21 verses of this lengthy psalm. Yet, these beginning verses (of 176 verses, divided between the 21 Hebrew letters, 8 verses in each section) give us so much of Bonhoeffer’s feeling and heart for this wonderful psalm. Such an expression of the unknown psalmist’s love and devotion to the existing Scripture of that time.

He wrote this meditation in 1939 and 1940, when he was a teacher of seminary students once more at an out-of-the-way vicarage and again in Pomerania.

Speaking of verse 1, Bonhoeffer concentrates on beginning the life with God. “God has once and for all converted me to himself; it is not that I have once for all converted myself to God. God has made the beginning; that is the happy certainty of faith.” [1] Yes, indeed, all of us are addressed as those who are walking on the way with God. We are all on the journey.

Happy are they—these words speak of the happiness and blessedness of life in the law of the Lord. It is God’s will that it should go well for those who walk in his commandments.” [2] Ah, Bonhoeffer admits there are certain Christians who wish to show that they are more spiritual than God…that they are super-spiritual and holier-than-Thou. Renunciation, suffering, the Cross, all of these are part and parcel of their lives. And, it is true that some people’s lives in this world are not all that easy. Yet, these super-spiritual Christians “lose the full joy of their Christian calling and deny God the thanks they should give for his great friendliness toward us.” [3]

Yes, God’s rich gifts to each of us encompass so much more than anyone can ask or imagine. Thanks be to God, who gives to all abundantly.

@chaplaineliza

 

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Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000, 95.

[2] Ibid, 100.

[3] Ibid.

A Last Word about Meditation, and Psalm 62

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, July 17, 2017

candles, votive prayer

A Last Word about Meditation, and Psalm 62

In this final word on the psalm, Dietrich Bonhoeffer did his usually excellent job. Not only did he talk about Psalm 62, but he also mentioned those who might not be enjoying close relations with God. “And then we wait and wait for years, perhaps to the end of our lives, until we once again are in the mood for religion.” [1]

How sad, and lonely for the unnamed person. As Bonhoeffer said in such a way, “We must learn the language of God, carefully learn it, work hard at it, so that we will be able to speak to Him.” [2]

Yes, it is indeed sad and lonely that a host of people are foundering in their times of prayer and meditation. And, some even do not make the attempt at communicating with God. “Why should I? I’ve tried a few times, and nothing at all happened.” Or “I am not religiously inclined.” So sad.

I have prayed to God, indeed. God and I are more of close friends than not. However, my attention can easily falter. My prayer and silence before God? “Certainly, it will be harder for one person than for another, but we may be sure that no one can advance without work. It takes daily fortitude to expose ourselves to God’s Word and to allow ourselves to be judged by it..” [3]

Wow! That sounds like prayer and meditation takes commitment, time and diligence. I must confess I do not have that commitment all the time. Forgive me, dear Lord.

Bonhoeffer closes with that wonderful quote from St. Augustine: “Lord God, you have made all things for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.” We have a Friend whose ears are always open, always with arms ready to embrace all who come close.

Thank You, God, for Your love and caring. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 54.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

Still More about Meditation, and Psalm 62

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, July 13, 2017

Psa 62 my soul waits

Still More about Meditation, and Psalm 62

Early in his ministry, Dietrich Bonhoeffer held a position as a pastor-in-training, and served as assistant pastor at a German-speaking church in Barcelona. He preached a sermon on Psalm 62. (I have found this sermon especially thoughtful and thought-provoking.)

Being a mother (and formerly, a daughter and niece of elderly relatives who have since died), I know well the seemingly bottomless list of errands, appointments, going to and fro. On top of that, the worries and concerns of daily life, family life, and all of the other frustrations, snags, roadblocks and blank walls that just happen. Life happens. It sneaks up on us, and sometimes will drown God’s voice out.

Most penetrating, “we are much more afraid of God—that he may disturb us and discover who we really are, that he may take us with him into his solitude and deal with us according to his will.” [1] How do I deny this? Do I have a creeping, sneaking fear that God will overpower me, and that there will be nothing left of _me_, of who I am as a separate person?

I seem to have gone past that fear…usually. Yes, I have experienced God’s warm love—more than several times. But, it is not an always-kind-of-a-thing for me, not even a usual-kind-of-a-thing. God’s love still sneaks up on me. Yet, isn’t that the way it ought to be? Leaving me so expectant, so much looking forward to my times spent in meditation and prayer, that I can hardly wait for the time that God and I can spend together?

I am still trying to figure all of this out. Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a wonderful guide for my times of meditation and prayer. Dear Lord, help me to continue to pursue You. Continue to make me welcome in Your presence, just like a child coming home to rest. Thank You, Lord.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

 

 

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 50.

More about Meditation, and Psalm 62

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Psa 62 my soul in silence

More about Meditation, and Psalm 62

Dietrich Bonhoeffer preached a sermon on Psalm 62 early in his ministry, when he served as assistant pastor to a German congregation in Barcelona. He took as his text verse 1: “For God alone my soul in silence waits; from him comes my salvation.”

“To be silent does not mean to be inactive, rather it means to breathe in the will of God, to listen attentively and be ready to obey.” [1] When we are silent before God, what happens? I realize that some people—mistakenly—think that means to become completely blank and without thought. While I understand some forms of meditation involve some sort of emptying one’s mind of thoughts, I don’t think this is the kind of directed meditation and prayer that God wants us to do.

Bonhoeffer rightly goes on to say that some people grumble that only few become aware of those deep, loving, profound things that God wishes to say. God does, indeed, speak winning words to us: “I love you.” Yet, why is it that relatively few people fully realize the enormity of God’s personal love, caring and guidance in each person’s life?

“…We are so afraid of silence that we chase ourselves from one event to the next in order not to have to spend a moment alone with ourselves, in order not to have to look at ourselves in the mirror.” [2] Oh, how perceptive of Herr Pastor Dietrich! As Bonhoeffer mentions, these times are comfortless, even fruitless.

I know so well that merry-go-round of the urgent, of the necessary, of the endless to-do list. And, what about the demands of work? The voices and cries of the children, the aging parents, and the extended family? The rounds of the visits, the events, and religious obligations. I don’t have any quick fix, sadly. The extremes of becoming a martyr to all of the busy-ness or trying to set up walls of obliviousness both confront me.

Dear Lord, preserve me from all such clutter in my head and heart. Lead me to come before You in spirit and in truth, seeking after Your presence, Your silence. And then, may I seek after Your will in my thoughts, words and life. Please, God, may it be so.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 49.

[2] Ibid, 50.

A Sermon, Meditation, and Psalm 62

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, July 7, 2017

Psa 62 word cloud

A Sermon, Meditation, and Psalm 62

Have you ever wondered about young pastors—or ministers? Still in training, some pastors need time to practice their craft. In some churches (and seminaries), a pastor-in-training is called an intern, or student pastor. The typical job of a pastor is multi-faceted, and a person sometimes is not fully skilled at every aspect of the pastorate until some years have passed.

Just so with Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer held a position as a pastor-in-training for a number of months. While serving as assistant pastor at a German-speaking church in Barcelona, he preached this particular sermon on Psalm 62. The psalmist in verse 1 calls for a time of silence before prayer and meditation: “For God alone my soul in silence waits; from him comes my salvation.” And Bonhoeffer paraphrases: “Teach us something about the silence of the soul, the soul that waits for God.” [1]

Sure, Bonhoeffer had definite ideas about meditation and how much scripture means to be practicing both prayer and meditation. “Being silent means unable to say anything more; it means that a strange but dear hand has placed itself upon our lips to make us be still; it means giving ourselves totally—capitulating to the overwhelming power of the Other.” [2]

Even at this early date in Bonhoeffer’s ministry, this sermon shows how an assembly of men and women can be ready for in depth learning. “To be silent does not mean to be inactive, rather it means to breathe in the will of God, to listen attentively, and be ready to obey.” [3]

Dear Lord, help me to be attentive to Your voice. We want to go a long way with You today. Help me to sit with You, walk with You, and follow in the way You want me to walk. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 48.

[2] Ibid, 49.

[3] Ibid.

More on the Word of God and Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, June 30, 2017

Bible, OT scrolls

More on the Word of God and Meditation

This particular letter was so fascinating, and had so much in it, that I just had to take another day to reflect upon it. I’m referring to a letter from Dietrich Bonhoeffer to his brother-in-law and good friend Rudiger Schleicher. (The two men had many interests in common, including theology.)

I was struck by what Bonhoeffer said about the Bible. “This is how I read the Bible now. I ask of each passage: What is God saying to us here? And I ask God that he would help us hear what he wants to say.” [1] Bonhoeffer does not read the Bible as someone preparing for a sermon, or doing bible study, with an eye to commentaries and delving deeper behind the words and meanings of the text. No. This is not the point for Bonhoeffer.

Instead, he particularly refers to what he saw as God’s central purpose for the Word: “…God’s Word begins by showing us the cross. And it is to the cross, to death and judgment before God, that our ways and thoughts (even the ‘eternal’ ones) all lead.” [2]

I think Bonhoeffer is saying that the cross is the apex of all things, the crux of God’s purpose and meaning. I almost hesitate to say this, but I understand it to be God’s be-all and end-all. The main point, the one-and-only. (Those phrases sound so trite, compared to God Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.)

Sure, there are lots of things that are still hidden from common understanding, or puzzling, or downright confusing. However, Bonhoeffer freely admits that he “does not yet understand this or that passage in Scripture, but is certain that even they will be revealed one day as God’s own Word.” [3]

If someone as spiritually and theologically brilliant as Dietrich Bonhoeffer freely admits that, I suppose I ought to feel no shame and embarrassment at admitting the same thing. Yet, just as Pastor Bonhoeffer did, I need to keep reading, keep meditating, and keep studying. If I do this, God willing, I will add to my knowledge, understanding and wisdom about the Word of God. I hope my readers do, as well. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 36.

[2] Ibid, 37.

[3] Ibid.

The Word of God and Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Bible, open

The Word of God and Meditation

Next, this anthology moves to a letter from Dietrich Bonhoeffer to his brother-in-law and good friend Rudiger Schleicher. The two men had many interests in common, including theology. They did not see eye to eye, as far as theology in general (and especially of Christian life and practice) was concerned. Small wonder that they “feuded,” as Bonhoeffer gently kids his brother-in-law.

“First, I want to confess quite simply that I believe the Bible alone is the answer to all our questions, and that we only need to ask persistently and with some humility in order to receive the answer from it.” [1]

Bonhoeffer does not think we ought to read the Bible as we read other books. No, some read the Bible in a way that depends strongly on textual criticism. Bonhoeffer suggests that a good way to read the Bible is to concentrate on what is within the book, not just on the surface.

“When a dear friend speaks a word to us, do we subject it to analysis? No, we simply accept it, and then it resonates inside us for days.” [2] He urges his readers to ponder the word—the Bible—in one’s own heart, and ruminate on it.

This is not the first time I have read this anthology. No, while I was in seminary I read this book, and used it for a text for prayer and meditation. Since I feel so strongly about the Bible (both old and new Testaments), this approach to the Word of God comes quite naturally to me. What a wonderful thing, finding someone who feels similarly (and strongly, in the same way) about the Bible!.

Dear God, help me to read the Bible more faithfully Please, help me focus more closely on Your Words, just as I would read a letter from a dear friend. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear my prayers.

@chaplaineliza

 

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 35.

[2] Ibid.