Lent with Bonhoeffer: Confess, Confess, Confess

church of holy sepulchre tomb

(Photo: The Tomb of Jesus at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem)

Holy Saturday, March 31, 2018

It’s really shaky ground. But it is still the rock, this ground; for this Peter, this reed bending in the wind, is called by God, taken prisoner by God, held fast by God. “You are Peter…” We are all Peter; not this person or that person, but all of us who are just living by our confession of Christ, as fearful, disloyal persons of little faith, but who are held fast by God.

Yet it is not we who are to build, but God. No human being builds the church, but Christ alone. Anyone who proposes to build the church is certainly already on the way to destroying it, because it will turn out to be a temple of idolatry, though the builder does not intend that or know it. We are to confess, while God builds. We are to preach, while God builds. We are to pray to God, while God builds. We do not know God’s plan. We cannot see whether God is building up or taking down. It could be that the times that human beings judge to be times for knocking down structures would be, for God, times to do a lot of building, or that the great moments of the church from a human viewpoint are, for God, times for pulling it down. It is a great comfort that Christ gives to the church: You confess, preach, bear witness to me, but I alone will do the building, wherever I am pleased to do so. Don’t interfere with my orders. Church, if you do your own part right, then that is enough. But make sure you do it right. Don’t look for anyone’s opinion; don’t ask them what they think. Don’t keep calculating; don’t look around for support from others. Not only must church remain church, but you, my church, confess, confess, confess…. Christ alone is your Lord; by his grace alone you live, just as you are. Christ is building.

-from The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Volume 1, pgs. 85-86

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