Dietrich Bonhoeffer and our end-times obsessions

If you've cancelled your plans on December 21 because the Mayans said the world would end, you'll be excited to hear that calendar experts have finally announced that nothing will happen after all -- except perhaps long lines at military-surplus return counters.But look on the upside. Now you can use that newfound time to catch up on your reading -- maybe thumb through some classics like Harold Camping's recently overshadowed 1994? Or Hal Lindsey's forgettable The 1980s: Countdown to … [Read more...]

Bonhoeffer’s blessed sign

I’ve been dipping in an out of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison and was surprised to discover that he used the sign of the cross in his daily prayers.In a letter from November 21, 1943, he says this: “I’ve found that following [Martin] Luther’s instruction to ‘make the sign of the cross’ at our morning and evening prayers is in itself most useful. There is something objective about it. . . .”Growing up, I always understood the sign of the cross to be empty superstitio … [Read more...]

Praying the Psalms

I wonder how often we find our prayers dead and lifeless. I wonder how often we come up dry and dumb with no words, no thoughts, no way of formulating the feelings, frustrations, and various shades of grief that we bear. Burdened and distracted, we can hardly remember to pray, and when we do we have nothing to say.What if someone could guide you to God in those moments, could take you before the throne, lean over and whisper, “Just say it like this,” and then unfurl a stream of words that mea … [Read more...]

The Psalms in Christian life

The American patriot leader Joseph Warren was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill in June 1775. Coming upon his bloodied and fallen body, a British soldier plucked a small psalter from his pocket.Warren had carried the little book into battle, a volume whose pages declare that God “maketh wars to cease unto the ends of the world: he breaketh the bow and cutteth the spear, and burneth the chariots with fire.”It is fitting that a soldier should carry such comforting lines -- those from Ps … [Read more...]

Dying to live

God throws curveballs. As he plays the game, fools become wise, a virgin bears a son, and death precedes life. The order is basic for the Christian. We die in Christ to live in Christ.Sometimes people are struck by this aspect of the faith. The image or concept of death can take on an uncomfortable prominence. Baptism is, after all, a picture of dying. We follow Paul’s advice and “Put to death . . . what is earthly” in us. We sometimes even call our daily sanctification mortification. This is n … [Read more...]