Sunday, January 23, 2011

Alone and in Community

Let him who cannot be alone beware community. He will only do harm to himself and to the community. Alone you stood before God when he called you; alone you had to answer that call; alone you had to struggle and pray; and alone you will die and give an account to God. You cannot escape from yourself; for God has singled you out. If you refuse to be alone you are rejecting Christ's call to you, and you can have no part in the community of those who are called. "The challenge of death comes to us all, and no one can die for another. Everyone must fight his own battle with death by himself, alone ... I will not be with you then, nor you with me" (Luther).
But the reverse is also true:
Let him who is not in community beware of being alone. Into the community you were called, the call was not meant for you alone; in the community of the called you bear your cross, you struggle, you pray. You are not alone, even in death, and on the Last Day you will be only one member of the great congregation of Jesus Christ. If you scorn the fellowship of the brethren, you reject the call of Jesus Christ, and thus your solitude can only be hurtful to you. "If I die, then I am not alone in death; if I suffer they [the fellowship] suffer with me" (Luther).
We recognize, then that only as we are within the fellowship can we be alone, and only he that is alone can live in the fellowship.


 Dietrich Bonhoeffer



Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community

2 comments:

  1. Your post echoed something I read yesterday during my devotions:

    "Solitude greeting solitude, that's what community is all about. Community is not the place where we are no longer alone but the place where we respect, protect and reverently greet one another's aloneness. When we allow our aloneness to lead us into solitude, our solitude will enable us to rejoice in the solitude of others. Our solitude roots us in our own hearts. Instead of making us yearn for company that will offer us immediate satisfaction, solitude makes us claim our center and empowers us to call others to claim theirs. Our various solitudes are like strong, straight pillars that hold up the roof of our communal house. Thus, solitude always strengthens community."
    Henri Nouwen

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for your thoughts!