matter what A Lenten devotion for March 22, 2017

Wednesdays in Lent are for diving into the rich history of the church. Today let us listen to Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor in the early 20th century. He was part of a group of theologians deeply concerned about the rise of Nazism in Germany. He organized a small contingency of Christians to resist Hitler and the Third Reich. This small contingency became known as the Confessing Church.

The Confessing Church was eventually outlawed and Bonhoeffer came to New York. In New York, though enthralled with the culture of Harlem, he felt a great need to return to Germany, despite the danger.

"I have come to the conclusion that I made a mistake in coming to America. I must live through this difficult period in our national history with the people of Germany. I will have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people... Christians in Germany will have to face the terrible alternative of either willing the defeat of their nation in order that Christian civilization may survive or willing the victory of their nation and thereby destroying civilization. I know which of these alternatives I must choose but I cannot make that choice from security."

Returning to Germany, he was eventually arrested and imprisoned in the concentration camp system. He was executed on April 9, 1945.

His Letters and Papers from Prison is a must read on the foundations of faith. Included in that book is a poem entitled “Stations on the Road to Freedom”.

Stations on the Road to Freedom


If you set out to seek freedom, then learn above all things

to govern your soul and your senses, for fear that your passions and longing may lead you away from the path you should follow.

Chaste be your mind and your body, and both in subjection,

obediently, steadfastly seeking the aim set before them;

only through discipline may a man learn to be free.


Daring to do what is right, not what fancy may tell you,

valiantly grasping occasions, not cravenly doubting -

freedom comes only through deeds, not through thoughts taking wing.

Faint not nor fear, but go out to the storm and the action,

trusting in God whose commandment you faithfully follow;

freedom, exultant, will welcome your spirit with joy.


A change has come indeed. Your hands, so strong and active,

are bound; in helplessness now you see your action

is ended; you sigh in relief, your cause committing

to stronger hands; so now you may rest contented.

Only for one blissful moment could

you draw near to touch freedom;

then, that it might be perfected in glory, you gave it to God.


Come now, thou greatest of feasts on the journey to freedom eternal;

death, cast aside all the burdensome chains, and demolish

the walls of our temporal body, the walls of our souls that are blinded,

so that at last we may see that which here remains hidden.

Freedom, how long we have sought thee in discipline, action, and suffering;

dying, we now may behold thee revealed in the Lord.


Created with images by iamanilozturk - "krakow auschwitz europe"

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