Edhird's Blog

Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


1 Comment

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Man of Destiny

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Many of us enjoyed the Valkyrie movie which showed the courage of those who sacrificed life and family to put an end to Nazism.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, though not mentioned directly in the movie, was instrumental in the Valkyrie plot to stop Hitler.  Martyred for his faith just 23 days before the Allies liberated Germany, Bonhoeffer’s last poem and his Barmen Declaration are printed in the ‘Lutheran’ hymnbook.[1]

Coming from a highly educated, aristocratic family, Bonhoeffer shocked his family by deciding to become a pastor.[2] Bonhoeffer was spiritually impacted by his Moravian Brethren ‘nanny’ Maria Horn who introduced him to the practice of having daily devotions.[3] After earning his doctorate at age 21, Bonhoeffer moved to the United States where he encountered African-American gospel music and preaching at the 14,000-member Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, NY.  The Abyssinian Church was led by Dr Adam Clayton Powell Sr, the son of slaves whose mother was a full-blooded Cherokee.  Dr Powell told a powerful story of his conversion to Christ from heavy drinking, violence and gambling.[4] Bonhoeffer was deeply moved by Dr Powell, saying “…here one can truly speak and hear about sin and grace and the love of God…the black Christ is preached with rapturous passion and vision.”[5]

Moving back to Germany in 1931, Bonhoeffer warned people about the dangers of Nazism, but many brushed off his prophetic statements as alarmist.  The Nazis worked carefully to first silence and then take over the Churches in Germany, birthing a movement called the German Christian Movement which discarded the Old Testament, putting the swastika at the centre of the cross.[6] At the Berlin Sports Stadium in 1933, in front of 20,000 supporters, the cross was denounced as ‘a ridiculous debilitating remnant of Judaism, unacceptable to National Socialists.’[7]  Nazis believed that it was un-aryan to let Jesus take our sins on the cross.

 Bonhoeffer responded by forming the Confessing Church movement which rejected racism and hatred of others. The Confessing Church started five seminaries/centres for training future pastors. Many Confessing Churches were firebombed by gangs of Hitler Youth.  On December 1935, the Nazis declared the Confessing Church to be illegal. They forbid the Confessing Church to hire employees, send out newsletters, take collections, or train students for ordination.[8] In 1937, the Nazis banned worship services from being held in unconsecrated buildings, homes or in public meeting halls.  It also became illegal to pray for anyone who had been sent to prison.[9]  Many Confessing Church pastors ended up in prison.

In 1938, Bonhoeffer quietly contacted Admiral Wilhelm Canaris who was involved in the German resistance movement. As the leader of the Abwehr Intelligence, Canaris was seeking for a way to remove Hitler.[10]  After the annexation of Austria and the destruction of over three hundred synagogues and 7,500 Jewish-owned businesses on the night of Kristallnacht, Bonhoeffer was persuaded to return to the United States. His friends were sure that Hitler was about to destroy Bonhoeffer.  He had no peace in the USA, knowing that Germany needed him.  Bonhoeffer opened his bible to the verse: He who believes does not flee. After only four weeks, he embraced his destiny, taking the last ship back to Germany.[11]

After the invasion of Poland and then France, Bonhoeffer was now required to report regularly to the police. He was forbidden to speak in public or publish books.[12] In 1943, while working for the underground, Bonhoeffer fell in love with and became engaged to Maria von Wedemeyer. Three months later he was arrested by the Gestapo.   “Your life would have been quite different, easier, clearer, simpler, had not our paths crossed,” he wrote to her. But Maria stayed faithful to Bonhoeffer to the very end.[13] While in Tegel Prison, Bonhoeffer wrote: “Church is only church when it is there for others.” One of the guards, Sergeant Knobloch, tried to smuggle Bonhoeffer out disguised as a mechanic. But Bonhoeffer rejected the escape plan in order to protect his fiancée and family.[14] A British fellow prisoner said later that ‘Bonhoeffer was all humility and sweetness with a deep gratitude for the mere fact that he was alive.’[15]

After Bonhoeffer was hung at Flossenburg, the prison doctor reported: “In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”[16]

I thank God for the courage of Bonhoeffer that he sacrificed his own life in order to make a way forward for others. Bonhoeffer was truly a man who embraced his destiny.

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


[1]Schlingensiepen,  Dietrich Bonhoeffer: 1906-1945: martyr, thinker, man of resistance, T&T Clark, 2010,   P.xxii

[2] Valkyrie’s Forgotten Man: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, March 20th 2009,  http://bit.ly/dMqnb8

[3]  Schlingensiepen, P. 10, 228, 382 “chapter 1 ft 6 “the Moravian Losungn ( watchword for the day), the daily devotions book, played an operant part in Bonhoeffer’s life and is still widely used today.”

[4] Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy , Thomas Nelson,Nashville, P.108

[5] Valkyrie’s Forgotten Man: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, March 20th 2009,  http://bit.ly/dMqnb8

[6] Valkyrie’s Forgotten Man: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, http://bit.ly/dMqnb8

[7] Metaxas, P.193, P.290 Himmler told Moni Von Cramin: “As an Aryan I must have the courage to take responsibility for my sins alone.” He rejected as ‘jewish’ the idea of putting one’s sins on someone else’s shoulders.

[8] Schlingensiepen, P. 193

[9] Schlingensiepen, P. 205

[10] Valkyrie’s Forgotten Man: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, http://bit.ly/dMqnb8

[11] Valkyrie’s Forgotten Man: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, http://bit.ly/dMqnb8

[12] Valkyrie’s Forgotten Man: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, http://bit.ly/dMqnb8

[13] Valkyrie’s Forgotten Man: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, http://bit.ly/dMqnb8

[14] Schlingensiepen, P. 359

[15] Schlingensiepen, P.369

[16] Metaxas, P.464


Leave a comment

Why Pray when You can Fight?

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Fighting makes us feel strong.  Prayer reminds us that we are vulnerable.  Fighting makes us feel in control.  Prayer reminds us to let go and let God.  Fighting feeds on anger and bitterness.  Prayer feeds on forgiveness and peace.

I became a Christian 46 years ago, after 17 years of spiritual hide-and-seek.  Being raised in church, I was taught to pray as a child but never really understood the intimacy of a real relationship.  As a teenager, my prayer life gradually faded into non-existence.  I never rejected God.  I just kept God at a convenient distance without even realizing it.

God to me was not untrue, but rather irrelevant.  I never rejected prayer.  It just slipped off my radar screen into oblivion.  I never rejected the Church.  I just found it painfully boring and obscure.  Though I was desperately seeking for the meaning of life, I had no idea that the Church would have anything to offer in that area.

When I was brutally attacked as a teenager by a gang member, I turned to martial arts in a secret desire for both self-defense and revenge.  Fighting made me feel strong.  I had no idea that prayer might turn out to be a more powerful weapon.  Within a year, I came to know Jesus Christ on a personal basis, and lost the desire to get even.  A few years later, I discovered that this bully had gone after someone larger than him who had kicked this bully’s teeth in and twisted a broken beer bottle in his face.  Hearing that story taught me that violence always breeds violence.  It was better to forgive because there is always ‘a faster gunfighter just waiting around the corner.’  Even with that realization, it still took me twenty years  before I finally parted company with martial arts.

When I met Jesus Christ 46 years ago, I was flabbergasted that someone was actually listening.  Prayer no longer felt like talking to the ceiling plaster.  It felt personal, real, and infectious.  I couldn’t get enough of connecting to this new best-friend.  There had been  an emptiness inside me that skiing, golfing, and parties couldn’t fill.  Through prayer, I felt a new inner peace and warmth that even my former drinking buddies noticed.

Going back to church, I noticed that church wasn’t as boring as it used to be.  While it may have changed, the big thing was that I had changed from the inside out.  I developed a new love and concern for people that I used to avoid and even look down on.  Instead of resenting life, I began to wake up looking forward to the next adventure that was ahead of me.

One of the things that troubled me though, as a new Christian, was the infighting between all the different denominations.  Why couldn’t the Anglicans, Baptists, Pentecostals, Mennonites, Presbyterians, etc learn to get along and stop competing?  Sometimes Christians reminded me of my old life as a non-Christian when I would rather fight than pray.

One of the wonderful gifts of serving on the North Shore from 1987 to 2018 is that denominational bickering is at an all-time low.  Clergy and pastors speak well of each other’s congregations and even freely send parishioners to attend other churches.  There is a generosity among North Shore pastors that allows them to bless each other instead of cursing each other.

This hasn’t happened by accident.  It is the fruit of forty years of weekly prayer by the North Shore clergy, first at Hillside Baptist, then at Valley Church, and now at Sutherland Church. By praying together on the second Wednesday of each month, God has been teaching the North Shore pastors how much we need each other.  North Shore Clergy have been learning that they are too busy not to pray.  By focusing on Jesus Christ, they have been rediscovering that we are on the same team.  Denominations are second.  Jesus is first.

Every denomination has its own strengths and weaknesses.  Instead of putting down another group for their flaws, we are learning to hold them up in prayer that they may become all that they are meant to be.  Presbyterians don’t need to become Anglicans, and Anglicans don’t need to become Baptists.  Our real calling is to love each other with the life-changing love of Jesus Christ.  Many churches have formed because someone was hurt.  We have been learning that it is time to forgive, time to heal, time to pray.  Why fight when we can pray?  My prayer for those reading this article is that we may rediscover the deep truth that the family that prays together stays together.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse

-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.


-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca