Dear Church Family,
I have recently been reading through Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Life Together” again. There are words in the very first chapter that jumped out at me, not in the least because we are celebrating All Saints Day this week also.
All Saints day originated as a celebration of the early church martyrs who gave up their lives, in gruesome ways, for the advancement of the gospel. This celebration grew to eventually include all the saints that have walked this earth and in some way, shape or form (hopefully) shared the same Good News we have received to those who, like we did, so desperately need to hear it.
With this in mind, Dietrich writes:
“’Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!’ (Ps. 133:1).
It is not simply to be taken for granted that the Christian has the privilege of living among other Christians. Jesus Christ lived in the mist of enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God. So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thing of foes. There is his commission, his work.
‘The Kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among the roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are going who would ever have been spared?’ (Luther).”
Bonhoeffer goes on to write that “gathering together” is not an evil thing, but certainly not something to be expected or take for granted. Even in a time and place of freedom to do so regularly, the “gathering of the living saints” is to be seen as a gift of grace that sustains and encourages the “normal Christian life” of being scattered to share the Good News among those who are “not yet saints”.
Let us gather and celebrate this amazing gift of grace this All Saints day. And let us scatter to share the Good News among those who are “not saints yet”, fulfilling the great commission our “Lord walking and living among sinners” left us with “until he comes again”.
In His Service,
Dear Church Family,