Tag Archives: seminarians

Meditation, Prayer and Wartime, Part Two

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, July 4, 2017

man praying, in pew 2

Meditation, Prayer and Wartime, Part Two

The year was still 1942. Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote more to several seminarians he had been responsible for training several years before, in Finkenwalde. Hardship, tumult, injury and even death had visited many of those young men. Bonhoeffer’s words were warm and heartening, despite the hardship, deprivation and trauma of war.

True, he tells these former seminarians that “Our previous ordered life has been broken up and dissolved in these present days, and we are in danger of losing our inner sense of order, too.” [1]

I have never been under such duress, fear and trauma as these young men who had gone through battle, trauma, fear and live enemy fire. However, I know a little about trauma and fear, from other, difficult home front situations. Hard, painful (and pain-filled) times were often these young men’s regular accompaniment.

Yet—and, yet—Bonhoeffer speaks of meditation (and its companion, prayer) as a stabilizing force in these men’s lives. ”Meditation can give to our lives a measure of steadiness; it can preserve the link to our previous existence, from baptism to confirmation to ordination…it can be a spark from that hearth fire that the congregations want to keep tending for you at home.” [2]

People often crave some semblance of order, of sameness, of that link to the previous existence, especially when everything else is up for grabs. Especially in times of conflict, hardship and war, certain people run straight into the waiting arms of God. To the desire and relief of many, they find “Meditation is a source of peace, of patience, and of joy; it is like a magnet that draws together all the forces in our life that make for order….Have we not all a deep perhaps, unconfessed, longing for such a gift?” [3]

How long, O Lord, how long? How long until You come alongside of us and fill our hearts with peace, patience and joy? How long until You penetrate each soul and spirit with Your love for Yourself and for others (both friends and foes)? Dear Lord, gracious God, thank You for Your promises, put forth in such a winsome way by Herr Pastor Dietrich. Thank You for Your nurture and care for all of Your creation. In Jesus’s name we pray, amen.

@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), 42-43.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

Meditation, Prayer and Wartime

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, July 2, 2017

hands folded in prayer

Meditation, Prayer and Wartime

The year was 1942, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer found himself in the midst of the war. Of the seminarians he was responsible for training several years before, many of those young men had gone into fighting on the front lines.  And, several had recently died.

World War 2 had indeed indelibly marked so many hearts. In writing to these hurting hearts on the matter that struck everyone so close to home, Bonhoeffer says that “they sleep now with all the brothers who have gone before them, awaiting the great Easter Day of the Resurrection.” [1]

It takes an especially strong faith to be able to hold to that faith in such dismal conditions.  When so many others are in despair, having lost their belief in God, Bonhoeffer’s faith shines all the more brightly. Plus, his simple, hopeful view of God’s heaven relates to just about every person living in those times: “We see the cross and we believe in the Resurrection; see death and we believe in eternal life; we experience sadness and separation but we believe in eternal joy and fellowship.” [2]

Bonhoeffer reflects on the letters he was receiving that month, for it was his birthday. I am assuming not only the seminarians but others of his acquaintance were sending him letters, remembering his birthday. “How shall I respond to such faithfulness? I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Let us remain constant in prayer for one another. Who knows how much protection through God’s grace he owes to the intercession of a brother?” [3]

I gather from these words that few things were as important to Bonhoeffer as being held in prayer by his friends and companions. Just as he did the same, in earnest prayer and meditation, this was an all-important activity of his. Such a simple, blessed view of God and the faithfulness of God’s people! This, to me, shows us a man who practices what he preaches: faithfulness and earnestness in prayer and meditation.

Dear Lord, help me be one of the sincere followers of Bonhoeffer, taking his example to heart. 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), 41.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, 42.

How Shall We Meditate?

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, June 15, 2017

Bible with flowers, drawing

How Shall We Meditate?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer had excellent advice on prayer and meditation. His suggestions to the seminarians at Finkenwalde were so pertinent.

His depth of experience in meditation and prayer provided such substance, especially the way in which Bonhoeffer taught how to meditate and pray using Scripture. “There is free meditation and meditation that is bound to Scripture. We advise the latter for the sake of the certainty of our prayers and the discipline of our thoughts.” [1]

Bonhoeffer’s suggestion to have all the seminarians meditate on the same passage of Scripture really intrigued me. Not only were the same few verses of the Bible meant to speak to each individual’s heart and mind and spirit, but moreover, the seminarians would then have the opportunity to share with each other. They might be able to discuss the passage even further, and really chew on, or meditate over the Word of God.

He gives instruction on prayer, too, as the seminarians compose themselves for the morning time of meditation. “If during meditation our thoughts move to persons who are near to us or to those we are concerned about, then let them linger there. That is a good time to pray for them.” [2] Bonhoeffer was quite serious both about prayer for others and continued prayer for the salvation of our own souls.

His call for the power of the Holy Spirit to come upon all who meditate that day is an excellent reminder for all of us. The Holy Spirit enlightens us on a regular basis, giving us deeper insight into the text.

These few insights merely scratch the surface of prayer and meditation instruction, as far as Dietrich Bonhoeffer is concerned. (My sneaking feelings of inferiority are rising within, again. Note to self: this has got to be the result of my re-reading this superb book…)

@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), 24.

[2] Ibid, 25.

Difficulty with Meditation

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, June 8, 2017

sitting in pew

Difficulty with Meditation

I have difficulty with meditation sometimes. I can relate to these seminarians. But, I am getting ahead of myself.

We need to turn our attention to the Confessing Church, representatives from a number of German churches who left the national church in 1934. (The national church was following Hitler’s agenda, increasingly, throughout the 1930’s.) The leadership of the Confessing Church sent for Dietrich Bonhoeffer in 1935; he was in London at the time. The Confessing Church established a breakaway, Confessing seminary in Finkenwalde. [1]

Dietrich Bonhoeffer expected the seminarians to “devote a half-hour each morning to silent meditation on a Scripture text.” [2] This practice caused them great consternation and difficulties. They could not figure out how to make use of the time.

As I said, I can relate. It is sometimes difficult for me to meditate and pray for an extended period, at normal and usual times. I would consider half-hour stretches of time to be a longer amount of time.

The seminarians did a variety of things instead of meditation. Some would sleep, others daydreamed, still others worked on sermons, instead of meditating and praying. Bonhoeffer offered them a number of instructions on meditation and prayer, since he thought meditation was so important to seminarians as well as pastors. (I’ll include some of his suggestions for meditation and prayer here over the next number of days.)

Dear God, I know I ought to meditate on your words regularly. When I do, I almost always feel energized, sometimes relaxed, and never, ever bored. Restore to me the joy of salvation, the love of learning, the excitement of poring over the Scriptures. In Jesus’s name, the Word made flesh, Amen.

 

@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), 21.

[2] Ibid, 22.