Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Musings: July 2018

Life Together gets messy.
People stand in our way at the kitchen counter and leave toothpaste in the bathroom sink.
Mired in the muggy heat of July, we mess up each other’s routines and call one another at inconvenient moments.

And yet, the truth is that we need each other.
We need the jolt that sends us careening out of the center of the universe and into another soul’s perspective.

Summer, with all its shipwrecked routines and glorious gatherings around picnic tables and marshmallow fires is the perfect season for reading Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian in Community by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Just in case your eyes are busy elsewhere, I’ll share these favorite quotes, because that’s  what friends do:

 

Reading, Writing, and Rejoicing

 

One unexpected gift of the blogging life has been the warm connection with others who are also writing, and some of them even manage to publish books! It’s a great privilege to help them with launching their books out into the world. Michelle Van Loon’s  Born to Wander: Recovering the Value of Our Pilgrim Identity explores her thoughts on the pilgrim life while sharing her own story, set against the narrative of wandering found in Scripture. I shared my review here along with my story of “pilgrim-ing in place.”

Chances are if you live in the crucible of ministry, you’ve given some thought to your soul-ish self, and maybe you’ve even felt the danger of losing touch with your real self in the course of a day’s work. This is more than just an academic concern, for the spiritual leader leads from the soul, but it’s easy to lose track of one’s own soul in the care and feeding of the souls of others. Ruth Haley Barton felt the insidious slippage in her own ministry and gathered lessons from the life of Moses as a lifeline back to herself and a vibrant relationship with God. In July, I reviewed the results of her gleanings which have been re-released in the expanded edition of Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry (Transforming Resources).

Reading Just Open the Door: How One Invitation Can Change a Generation, I felt Jen Schmidt and the whole (in)courage team nodding and smiling their reassurance that true hospitality is nothing more (and nothing less!) than “an ordinary couple [making] a deliberate decision, intent on getting to know the people around them from more than a polite distance.” (2) In Romans 12:3, the Apostle Paul puts a strong verb in front of the word hospitality when he urges Roman believers who were facing persecution to “pursue hospitality.”

Each chapter of Just Open the Door unpacks a different facet of the hospitable life with words of encouragement and stories lifted from Jen Schmidt’s own parenting, inviting, tail-gating, pot-lucking life. For every “have to” moment in your day, Jen invites you to switch the sentiment to “get to,” as in “Today, I get to change the sheets in the guest room.” A life marked by gratitude opens up the floodgates to all kinds of hospitality. You can read more here.

 

Day to day parenting decision are deeply rooted in timeless truth. #OrthodoxyG.K. Chesterton and his wife Frances did not have children, but even so, I found plenty of wisdom to apply to my own parenting life as I pressed into Chapter 7 of Orthodoxy this month. Every decision that we make in the run of our ordinary days has roots in something deeper, or, as Chesterton put it, “There must be something eternal if there is to be anything sudden.” (165) May we find grace to lean into the practical impact of our theological underpinnings even in the day-to-day decisions that govern the way our home functions and they way we shepherd our children’s hearts toward orthodoxy.

Summer Ministry

Packing up the lesson visuals and the juice, the song flash cards and the c.d. player, the prizes and the fake mustaches for our church’s summer children’s outreach, it occurred to me that I can teach a room full of women for at least 45 minutes with nothing but a Bible  and my notes. Children’s ministry is exhausting. Truly. You need all the dogs and all the ponies, and a lot more charisma than lives in this 55-year-old carcass.

But then, God the Holy Spirit is a force to be reckoned with, and so I’m grateful for five days of living the blessing of being a vessel, holding the Truth and pouring it out for our own church kids and for a few who just don’t get it anywhere else.

 

Joel, Rohobot, Sena.jpg

These great teen leaders were a joyful part of the experience, and my prayer for them is that God would continue the great work He has begin in their lives.

God is at work in the humdrum and repetitive tasks we perform. This is the Way of the Cross.Gardening on the Hill

The green rows of growing things draw me like a magnet this time of year. The work inside suffers from neglect, but it will wait, and as hot and dirty as I get out in the garden, it never seems like work to me. Already we are enjoying salads of fresh-picked greens, and there are a dozen jars of dilly beans on my basement shelves. This month, I wrote a piece inspired by the quotidian task of piling rocks into a rusty wheelbarrow and the harvest of blessing that comes from simply showing up to gather stones.

Thank you for meeting here for words about the garden and the rock pile, theLife Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer blessings and the challenges. Thank you for the times when you have been that other “Christian who speaks God’s Word” to me and for letting me do the same for you,

 

 

I  am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. If you should decide to purchase any of the books listed in this post, simply click on the title within the text, and you’ll be taken directly to Amazon. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

The books mentioned in this post have been provided by the publishers to facilitate my reviews, which were, of course, offered freely and with complete honesty.

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for nearly 30 years, and together they have four sons, two daughters-in-love, two grandchildren, and one lazy St. Bernard. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

74 thoughts on “Musings: July 2018”

  1. Michele, I love your open, honest, transparent posts! Especially this quote, “Every decision that we make in the run of our ordinary days has roots in something deeper, or, as Chesterton put it, “There must be something eternal if there is to be anything sudden.” you are such a wonderful encourager to me and so many others. Many blessings to you ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m starting to look at the chapter for my August Chesterton post, and really– there’s just so much in each chapter that it’s a challenge to comb through all the goodness and decide what to share. I’m thankful that last month’s gleanings resonated for you, Beth, and also thankful for your warm encouragement in so many ways!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love these monthly posts! Thank you, Michele, for always sharing transparently, for always giving me something more to think upon! Looking forward to seeing what August has in store for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Joanne! And I’m hoping your summer is going well with lots of grandmothering time and moments with a good book in the shade. (I spent a lot of time yesterday afternoon with my grand girl in a lawn chair!)

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  3. I’m getting back to reading a few blogs as I continue to recover from my concussion. Yours is a top priority! Love your monthly musings. It has been a hot and yet very lovey July. I don’t have a garden but love the looks of canned vegetables lined on shelves. The books your highlight all sound interesting and inspiring as usual. And of course I love reading your thoughts on Orthodoxy. Enjoy these last two precious July days!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so good to hear that you are making progress on healing that pesky concussion. Yes, July has been glorious (and even though it’s muggy, I’ll take it because how often do we really get temps in the 80’s around here??)
      Thanks so much for stopping by! Keep behaving yourself so you can heal quickly!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer especially the one where “A Christian needs another Christian” There are days when I yearn for such fellowship . Praying for this season to pass.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Bonhoeffer’s thoughts speak to a need many believers feel. Even in this age of instant connection on line, we still need times of sitting across a table from each other with personal words of encouragement for our faith.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Sounds like you have read some great books lately! And well done for getting involved in the kids’ club! It’s funny- I am way happier speaking in front of kids than in front of adults! I agree, it’s so encouraging to see how teenagers grow through stepping up to lead the younger ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for that encouragement, Lesley, and I had gathered from your own writing that you are a veteran with the kids.
      I started working with children myself as a teen, and it was life-changing for me, so I want to create that opportunity for the teens in our church whenever I can.

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  6. Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of my very favorite theologians. I love the quotes that you chose here. Have you ever read his Letters From Prison? I think it is his most moving work. And the picture of you in the mustache – too funny!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love these monthly posts, Michele! Especially your comments on kids’ ministry had me chuckling as that is something I go through quite a lot as a Sunday School teacher and Kids’ Ministry leader. Thank you for linking up over at GraceFull Tuesday once again!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Interesting point about children’s ministry vs. women’s! Though children’s ministry has always involved audio-visuals, it seems their use has been ramped up over the years. Thankfully the folks who headed up VBS in our former church did a stellar job (our current church is very small and doesn’t have their own building) . I don’t know where they found the energy! Loved your mustache picture! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Unfortunately, kids’ eyes are used to a pretty high level of stimulation. It makes me wonder if Mr. Rogers would have been able to hold the attention of kids in the 21st century as he held ours in the 60’s and 70’s.
      Thanks for appreciating my foray into facial hair. 🙂

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  9. “The crucible of ministry” ~ I have never thought of it as a crucible, but wow, can I ever understand. Dad always told me that Christian character is forged in the crucible of pain, and that certainly applies to much of what is experienced in the continual pouring of one’s self into and out for the lives of those they serve in leadership ministry. This is one book I think I would love to read. Thank you so much for sharing about it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve had Life Together on my list for a couple of years, and it took me that long to finally get it and read it. I’m still reading, so I’ll likely be sharing more as time goes by.

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  10. Thank you for your musings! I love Dietrich’s quote about “why do christians sing when they get together?” So much truth. I love Ruth Haley Barton. I need to find time to explore more of her books. And of course, the picture of you with the mustache just makes we want to meet you more. It looks like your visuals were great and I hoped the kids learned a lot from you.

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    1. Well, I certainly learn a lot when I teach kids–some lessons about my own selfishness and impatience, alongside the ones that come from studying and preparing to teach the Bible. It’s always a challenge to find ways to gather children for the purpose of outreach.
      And yes, it would be delightful to meet some day!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I enjoyed reading your post, Michele. I found it through the “What I’m Into” linkup, which I participated in for the first time today (I’m #14 in the linkup), but I’ve read your writings at The Perennial Gen, too. Thanks for the reading list, in particular.

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  12. (Trying again. Sorry if this is a repeat but don’t see the comment I left earlier.) I always like seeing what you’re up to and hearing what you’re reading. So much rich material on faith and life! And the mustache picture is classic. 😉 Love it.

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  13. You have such a lovely writing voice, Michele. And you’re so kind to share and affirm the words of others too. Thank you for the ways you bless the body of Christ.

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  14. Michele, I have never read anything of Bonhoeffer but I know I need to. That book looks perfect for every Christian. I really appreciated a new – but already good – friend who pulled me up on something the other day. It is so rare but so priceless to do that. Also, I have just started reading Orthodoxy and wow! It packs a punch! Can’t wait to keep reading it.

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    1. When we “do Church” the way the Bible describes it, sometimes it’s gritty and uncomfortable, and yet we are called to that kind of “Life Together.”
      I’m working on Chapter 8 of Orthodoxy right now, and in trying to write my August post, there is just TOO MUCH great material to choose from. It’s so good to dive into these more challenging and yet timeless books.

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  15. What a lovely post! Thank you for sharing at Words on Wednesday. I love your opening sentence. “Live together gets messy” So true for any relationship! Your thoughts on teaching children also struck home “You need all the dogs and all the ponies, and a lot more charisma than lives in this 55-year-old carcass” This one made me laugh! I love teaching children, but have always felt I needed more charisma! Thank you for all the book recommendations, too! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

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    1. Oh, yes, and while I’m aware that it’s not the dog and pony show that ultimately matters or carries the truth, I’m grateful for those who minister to children and do it well. I still have a lot to learn!

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  16. So much good to peruse in your posts, and I so enjoy reading your sharings. Especially like the explanation of why we sing together in Church. People needing people is so true because when gathered with family or friends, we laugh a lot and it does the soul good.

    Since unless you travel back to Blogger blogs, you won’t see my reply. On my blog at Sunday Scripture Blessings, you commented on my header picture. I was so thrilled when my daughter surprised me with a first time ever flight (in my 60’s) with a trip to California, and the photo is of a lighthouse we visited. I’d always wanted to go see a lighthouse. This one is also the one that was in the movie The Fog if you’ve ever watched that movie. The Point Reyes Lighthouse, also known as Point Reyes Light or the Point Reyes Light Station, is a lighthouse in the Gulf of the Farallones on Point Reyes in Point Reyes National Seashore, located in Marin County, California, United States. There are 308 steps according to one who counted (not me), but it does say equal to 30 flights of stairs when you’re deciding to walk down, which I did, but coming back up was the challenge at the age I was then, and so thankful there were seats along the way up for rest. But for my son and daughter, they flew past me coming back up with no challenge. Oh to be young is such a blessing. 🙂

    Peabea from Peabea Scribbles

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  17. So many good book recommendations here. These words though-WoW! “And yet, the truth is that we need each other. We need the jolt that sends us careening out of the center of the universe and into another soul’s perspective.”

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  18. Michele,
    The opening Bonhoeffer quote is so pertinent to what I am currently experiencing. We need the give and take of the body of Christ. Love your mustache my friend. As a retired preschool teacher and Sunday school teacher of 4 years olds. Trying to keep them as a captive audience is exhausting. I applaud your efforts in still going for it. I’m sorry I haven’t been around the blogosphere much to keep up with your posts. I always enjoy your “voice” but get a taste of it on the (in)courage site 🙂
    Blessings friend and may your tomatoes always be plump and juicy,
    Bev xx

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  19. Cheers for you for teaching the children’s ministry! That takes a special gift! And definitely lots of energy! I teach 10-12 year olds in public school. We have almost 1200 of them – it is exhausting! Thanks for sharing with us at The Blogger’s Pit Stop! Roseann from This Autoimmune Life

    Like

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