Today the church remembers Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Theologian and Martyr, 1945.This bright, young Lutheran pastor was only twenty-four when he participated in his first public protest against Nazism and the complicity of the Christian churches in that regime's rise to power. He was one of the leaders of the Confessing Church, a Protestant group that resisted Hitler and the Nazi party. In 1935 he was the founder and dean of a seminary at Finkenwald, Germany, which served that church body. It was there that he wrote his two most famous published works: Life Together and The Cost of Discipleship. As the Nazi ring closed in upon him and the Confessing Church, he had an opportunity for asylum in the United States, which he declined. He was arrested and jailed in 1943, and from his cell in Berlin he helped plan an assassination of Adolf Hitler. The assassination failed and Bonhoeffer's involvement was discovered, and he was sent to Buchenwald concentration camp. But his life was spared, for reasons we do not know, and he was transferred to Schoenberg Prison. There he served as chaplain to fellow inmates until on a Sunday in 1945, immediately following divine services, he was summoned by the guards and taken by automobile to Flossenburg Prison, where he was summarily hanged. That was on April 9. Bonhoeffer was thirty-nine years old. The crumbling German Reich formally surrendered twenty-eight days later. May we, like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, count the cost of discipleship to be worthy of our whole selves. Amen.
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Almighty God, the beyond in the midst of our life, you gave grace to your servant Dietrich Bonhoeffer to know and to teach the truth as it is in Jesus Christ, and to bear the cost of following him: Grant that we, strengthened by his teaching and example, may live under your Word in all its forms and richness, and embrace its call to faithfulness with an undivided heart; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.