Thursday, April 10, 2008

The following hymn was composed by Dietrich Bonhoeffer while detained in a consentration camp , shortly before his execution.

By gracious powers so wonderfully sheltered,
And confidently waiting come what may,
we know that God is with us night and morning,
and never fails to greet us each new day.

Yet is this heart by its old foe tormented,
Still evil days bring burdens hard to bear;
Oh, give our frightened souls the sure salvation for which,
O Lord, You taught us to prepare.

And when this cup You give is filled to brimming
With bitter suffering, hard to understand,
we take it thankfully and without trembling,
out of so good and so beloved a hand.

Yet when again in this same world You give us
The joy we had, the brightness of Your Sun,
we shall remember all the days we lived through,
and our whole life shall then be Yours alone.

This hymn appears in the 1982 Episcopal Hymnal (695). The translator is F. Pratt Green (1903- ) listed in hymnal indexes sometimes under Green and sometimes under Pratt Green. The translation copyright is Hope Publishing Company 1974.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
February 4, 1906 – April 9, 1945
Bonhoeffer was born in 1906, son of a professor of psychiatry and neurology at the University of Berlin. He was an outstanding student, and at the age of 25 he was ordained and became a lecturer in systematic theology at the same University where his talk of peace was unpopular. He was a prolific author as well.
Before his ordination he spent time in the US. as an exchange student. It was there he saw first hand the evils of racisim, little guessing how relivant his experience would soon become to his life in Germany.
When Hitler came to power in 1933 Bonhoeffer was a leading spokesman for the Confessing Church and the director of one of it's main Seminaries. When the Nazis's closed the seminary
he organized and for a time led an underground teaching community. His book Life Together describes the life of the Christian community in that seminary. His book The Cost of Discipleship attacks what he calls "cheap grace," meaning grace used as an excuse for moral laxity.
The net tightened around the Jews as Bonhoeffer withdrew to America. As time passed he felt he must return to Germany against the council of many friends.
He became a resitance worker and part of a failed attempted to assassinate Hitler. It was his refusal to report for military service that finally led to his arrest in April of 1943.
He was sent first to Buchenwald and then to Schoenberg Prison. His life was spared, because he had a relative in the government; but then this relative was himself implicated in anti-Nazi plots. In prision He wrote his parents, his fiance, supported and prayed for fellow prisioners, and continued to write.
On Sunday 8 April 1945, as he finished conducting a service at Schoenberg two soldiers came in, saying, "Prisoner Bonhoeffer, make ready and come with us," the standard summons to a condemned prisoner. As he left, he said to another prisoner, "This is the end -- but for me, the beginning -- of life."
He was hanged the next day, less than a week before the Allies reached the prision camp. Perhaps it can be argued that he died for his political convictions and not His christian faith. Dietrich Bonhoeffer would have argued there was no distinction between the two.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Dr. King on Peace and Justice
Nonviolence is absolute commitment to the way of love. Love is not emotional bash; it is not empty sentimentalism. It is the active outpouring of one's whole being into the being of another.
--Martin Luther King, Jr., 1957

We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and for justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.
--Martin Luther King, Jr., "CONSCIENCE AND THE VIETNAM WAR" in The Trumpet of Conscience (1968)

I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of nuclear annihilation... I believe that even amid today's mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow... I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed.
--Martin Luther King, Jr., Address in Acceptance of Nobel Peace Prize - 10 December 1964

In struggling for human dignity the oppressed people of the world must not allow themselves to become bitter or indulge in hate campaigns. To retaliate with hate and bitterness would do nothing but intensify the hate in the world. Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can be done only by projecting the ethics of love to the center of our lives.
----Martin Luther King, Jr., undated

World peace through nonviolent means is neither absurd nor unattainable. All other methods have failed. Thus we must begin anew. Nonviolence is a good starting point. Those of us who believe in this method can be voices of reason, sanity, and understanding amid the voices of violence, hatred, and emotion. We can very well set a mood of peace out of which a system of peace can be built.
----Martin Luther King, Jr., December 1964

Friday, April 4, 2008

Martin Luther King Jr.
January 15, 1929-April 4, 1968

King a black American Southern Baptist preacher became a key voice in the civial rights movment of the 60's opposing racism, segregation. He taught and practiced a model of active non-violent resitance or civil disobiedence.

Martin's grandfather and father were inturn both pastors of Ebenezer Baptist Church in atlanta. His mother was a teacher. King earned his own Bachelor of Divinity degree from Crozier Theological Seminary in 1951 and earned his Doctor of Philosophy from Boston University in 1955.

While at seminary King became acquainted with Mohandas Gandhi philosophy of nonviolent social protest. After a trip to India in 1959 where he entered into discussion with followers of Ghandi, he became more convinced than ever that nonviolent resistance was the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom.

As a pastor of a Baptist church in Montgomery, Alabama, King lead a Black bus boycott. King and several others were arrested and found guilty of obstruction of buisness. As the bus boycott dragged on, King was gained a national reputation. The ultimate success of the Montgomery bus boycott made King a national hero.

Letter from Birmingham Jail inspired a growing national civil rights movement. In 1963 King led a massive march on Washington DC where he delivered his now famous, I Have A Dream speech. King's tactics of active nonviolence (sit-ins, protest marches) put civil-rights squarely on the national agenda.

On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King at the age of thirty-nine was shot and killed while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, Memphis, Tennessee. At the time he was becoming more out spoken against the war in vietnam as well as focusing attention on a nationwide campaign to help the poor. Right up until his death he never wavered in his conviction that nonviolence must remain the central tactic of the civil-rights movement.