April 30, 2020
Pastor Jerry Kulp
“It is true, of course, that what is an unspeakable gift of God for the lonely individual is easily disregarded and trodden under foot by those who have the gift every day. It is easily forgotten that the fellowship of Christian (family) is a gift of grace, a gift of the Kingdom of God that any day may be taken from us, that the time that still separates us from utter loneliness may be brief indeed. Therefore, let (us) who until now has had the privilege of living a common Christian life with other Christians praise God’s grace from the bottom of (our) heart. Let (us) thank God on our knees and declare: It is grace, nothing but grace, that we can live in community with Christian (family)
Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “Life Together, The classic Exploration of Christian Community.”
The above quote is taken from the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a famous Lutheran Theologian of the 20th century, who was executed in a concentration camp at Flossenburg, Germany shortly before it was liberated by the allied forces by a special order of Heinrich Himmler.
This quote truly struck a chord with me as I read it during the COVID19 pandemic as we move through this time as a community that is being forced into social distancing. Bonhoeffer eloquently states in his writings that indeed all Christian community, be it with one other person, or several hundred is indeed a gift of God. This Christian community belongs to one another only through and in Jesus Christ. Powerful words!
As I think about what I long for in the “new normal” at the top of the list is a community that is more familiar than the “alien” way in which we are community now. I long to see and hug my children. I long to see and hug my friends that I have been separated from. Indeed, in this time I feel the power of Bonhoeffer’s words that community is truly a gift from our loving God and that this community may be taken from us in a single day.
My hope is that as we move closer to the day in which we will be allowed to safely gather again that none of us would forget the gift of community. As Pastor Suzanne and I have been sharing for some time, the church is not found in our beautiful buildings, but rather in the gathering of sisters and brothers in Christ. Sisters and brothers in Christ who have been chosen by God, accepted by one another in a specific time, and united with one another for all eternity through Jesus Christ.
For now, I and hopefully you, give thanks to God for the community as it exists now. A community that in many ways has drawn nearer and dearer to one another during this time of social distancing. I give thanks to God for phone calls, for letters and cards of warm wishes, and for the internet and the use of technology. I give thanks to God for the gift of prayer and for the generous sharing of God-given resources, face masks, food, transportation. I give thanks to God for each of you reading this reflection; for indeed, we are a community. A gift shared with us all by a loving and most generous God regardless of how we currently gather.
Keep trusting in God, washing those hands, and be at peace!