Life Together

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together (1938) is available as a free PDF download here. Chapter 1, “Community,” describes Christ’s power to create and shape community. Chapter 2, “The Day with Others,” outlines a daily rhythm of gratitude and prayer.

For me, the heart of the book is Chapter 3, “The Day Alone,” which deals with a crucial paradox: “Let (one) who cannot be alone beware of community,” and “Let (one) who is not in community beware of being alone.” Bonhoeffer urged the community to spend time each day in meditation: “Silence…. needs to be practiced and learned, in these days when talkativeness prevails.”

Chapters 4, “Ministry,” and 5, “Confession and Communion,” deal with forgiveness and freedom. Bonhoeffer’s words flow from his personal experience: “The early morning belongs to the Church of the Risen Christ. At the break of light it remembers the morning on which death and sin lay prostrate in defeat and new life and salvation were given to (humankind).”

In the Introduction, translator John W. Doberstein quoted a British officer and fellow prisoner: “Bonhoeffer always seemed to me to spread an atmosphere of happiness and joy … and profound gratitude for the mere fact that he was alive …. He was one of the very few persons I have ever met for whom God was real and always near…. On Sunday, April 8, 1945, Pastor Bonhoeffer conducted a little service of worship and spoke to us in a way that went to the heart of us all. … He had hardly ended his last prayer when the door opened and two civilians entered. They said, ‘Prisoner Bonhoeffer, come with us.’ That had only one meaning for all prisoners—the gallows. We said good-by to him. He took me aside: ‘This is the end, but for me it is the beginning of life.’ The next day (at dawn) he was hanged….” His text for that last message was Isaiah 53:5, “with his stripes we are healed.”

The Music of Terezin

One thought on “Life Together”

  1. I scrolled through all the music of Terazin and listened to a video of a student choir from Grand Rapids that visited the site. What an amazingly large number of recordings have been made. Very moving!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s