MONDAY THE NINTH OF APRIL, 2018
* Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Maximilian Kolbe and Etty Hillesum *
Gracious God, we praise you for the light of new life made possible through Jesus. We praise you for the light of new life that shone on the first witnesses of resurrection. We praise you for the light of new life
that continues to shine in our hearts today.
We pray that the Easter light of life, hope and joy, will live in us each day and that we will be bearers of that light into the lives of others. Amen.
Believing souls, rejoice and sing, your risen saviour see,
and say, "O death, where is thy sting! O grave, thy victory?"
Rejoice, your conquering saviour lives, he lives to die no more;
and life eternal freely gives, since he our sorrows bore.
Sing praises to our risen Lord; life, immortality
and lasting bliss are now restored for all, for you and me;
believe the wondrous deed, my soul, adore his saving name;
rejoice, you saints, from pole to pole, his love and power proclaim.
The Prince of glory bowed his head, expiring on the cross;
but now the Lord is risen indeed, is risen and lives for us;
rejoice, and in the dust adore the lamb for sinners slain;
he lives for now and evermore, for evermore to reign.
( John Swertner )
MEDITATION by Tim Madsen
Dietrich Bonhoeffer , Maximilian Kolbe and Etty Hillesum: faith in a time of war
Today Saint Laika’s remembers three persons of faith who met their deaths imprisoned by the Nazi Third Reich during the Second World War. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran Pastor. Maximilian Kolbe was a Catholic Priest. Etty Hillesum was a Jewish mystic.
From the time the Nazis came to power in 1933, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a leading spokesman for the Confessing Church, the center of Protestant resistance to the Nazis. He organised and headed a new seminary for the Confessing Church at Finkenwald. He described the community in "Life Together" and later wrote "The Cost of Discipleship."
Bonhoeffer was arrested the fifth of April, 1943, and imprisoned in Berlin, after an attempt on Hitler’s life failed. Documents were discovered linking Bonhoeffer to the conspiracy. On Sunday the eighth of April, 1945, just as he concluded a service in a school building in Schoenberg, two men came in with the chilling summons, “Prisoner Bonhoeffer, come with us.”
He said to another prisoner, “This is the end. For me, the beginning of life.”
Bonhoeffer was hanged the next day, the ninth of April, at Flossenburg prison.
Maximilian Kolbe was a Franciscan priest living at a monastery in Poland, where, Polish refugees were kept safe and at least two thousand Jews were saved from the concentration camps. On the seventeenth of February, 1941, Kolbe and four others were arrested by the German Gestapo. On the twenty-eighth of May, he became a prisoner at the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp.
At the end of July 1941, a fellow prisoner was singled out for execution. When he cried out, "My wife! My children!" Kolbe volunteered to take his place, and so met his death. The guards gave Kolbe a lethal injection of carbolic acid.
Etty Hillesum was a Jew living in Amsterdam when she had the beginning of a spiritual awakening. In 1941 she began keeping a diary to record the increasing anti-Jewish measures imposed by the occupying German army, and the growing uncertainty about the fate of fellow Jews who had been deported by them. As well as forming a record of oppression her diaries describe her spiritual development and deepening faith in God. Russian authors and Christian mystics likely contributed to Hillesum’s understanding of spirituality. Hillesum addressed God repeatedly in her diaries, regarding him not as a saviour, but as a power we must nurture inside of is:
"Alas, there doesn’t seem to be much you yourself can do about our circumstances, about our lives. Neither do I hold you responsible. You cannot help us, but we must help you and defend your dwelling place inside us to the last."
She died at Auschwitz on the thirtieth of November, 1943
Scripture. In the tenth chapter of "Hebrews" at verse twenty-three we read:
Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.
... for peace in the world.
... that we may be given the courage to remain constant in our Christian faith if we should enter into a time of trial.
... for those who are imprisoned or who are being persecuted because of their Christian faith.
... for those who have died recently and for those who mourn their passing.
... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.
... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.
... for ourselves.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.
From "An Interrupted Life" by Etty Hillesum:
Tuesday morning, half-past nine. Something has happened to me, and I don't know if it's just a passing mood or something crucial. It is as if I had been pulled back abruptly to my roots, and had become a little more self-reliant and independent.
Last night, cycling through cold, dark Lairessestraat, I babbled out something like this:
"God, take me by your hand, I shall follow you dutifully, and not resist too much. I shall evade none of the tempests life has in store for me, I shall try to face it all as best I can. But now and then grant me a short respite. I shall never again assume, in my innocence, that any peace that comes my way will be eternal. I shall accept all the inevitable tumult and struggle. I delight in warmth and security, but I shall not rebel if I have to suffer cold, should you so decree. I shall follow wherever your hand leads me and shall try not to be afraid. I shall try to spread some of my warmth, of my genuine love for others, wherever I go. But we shouldn't boast of our love for others. We cannot be sure that it really exists. I don't want to be anything special, I only want to try to be true to that in me which seeks to fulfill its promise. I sometimes imagine that I long for the seclusion of a nunnery. But I know that I must seek you among people, out in the world."
And that is what I shall do, despite the weariness and dislike that sometimes overcome me. I vow to live my life out there to the full. Sometimes I think that my life is only just beginning. That the real difficulties are still to come, although at times I feel that I have struggled through so many already. I shall study and try to comprehend, I shall allow myself to become thoroughly perplexed by whatever comes my way and apparently diverts me, yes, I shall allow myself to be perplexed time and again perhaps, in order to arrive at greater certainty. Until I am no longer perplexed and a state of balance has been achieved, but with all paths still open to me. I don't know if I am able to be a good friend to others. And if I cannot be, because it is not in my nature, then I must face that as well. In any case I must not try to fool myself. And I must keep within my own limitations. And remember that I alone can set these.
Gracious God, you gave grace to your servants Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Maximilian Kolbe and Etty Hillesum to know and to trust in you in the midst of suffering and death. Grant that we, strengthened by their teaching and example, may receive your word and embrace its call with an undivided heart; through Jesus Christ our Saviour and Lord. Amen.
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
NOW LIGHT A CANDLE
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