Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Shamelessly stealing the titles of Bonhoeffer's books.




Dietrich Bonhoeffer



Most Tuesday mornings I hang out with a bunch of Clerics; some retired, some still parish ministers,

It's much better that you imagine!   In truth it is almost essential for our spiritual health.

We take a gander at the Scriptures for the following Sunday and to share thoughts as to "how to preach it".

Sometimes we get to be very silly.  Oft-times we are gently serious.

It's a group in which grand-standing and/or professional rivalry are notoriously absent.

Next Sunday is Palm Sunday.  We ignored the Palm Sunday lesson, the First lesson and the Passion Gospel.

Instead we focused on the Epistle, Philippians 2:1-11.  Who would not, with that marvelous and poetic early Christian statement of faith contained in verses 6-11?


Philippians 2:1-11 NRSV

2If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5Let the same mind be in you that was* in Christ Jesus, 
6 who, though he was in the form of God,
   did not regard equality with God
   as something to be exploited, 
7 but emptied himself,
   taking the form of a slave,
   being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form, 
8   he humbled himself
   and became obedient to the point of death—
   even death on a cross. 

9 Therefore God also highly exalted him
   and gave him the name
   that is above every name, 
10 so that at the name of Jesus
   every knee should bend,
   in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 
11 and every tongue should confess
   that Jesus Christ is Lord,
   to the glory of God the Father. 



But, even as we talked about verses 6-11 we reminded ourselves that these verses are not "stand alone".  They are set in stone in the context of the ways in which Christians live together in the Body of Christ not as an abstract concept, but in the rough and tumble of life in a local congregation.

Life in the congregation is tough, and it's meant to be that way.  All that we say about the love of God as definitively shown forth in the Cross ..... (and I think that we preachers say too much about the love of God, and not enough about our love for each other and for God's world) .... all that we say about the love of God leads to spiritual narcissism and self centredness unless it also calls us to "life together", and "the cost of discipleship".

There's food for thought in Holy Week.


jmp

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