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New Every Morning

Every spring I have the task and the privilege of reminding the church of the resurrection. And every spring as I preach what is impossible to fully comprehend and too wonderful to adequately convey, I say to myself, “I need to keep the resurrection at the front of our consciousness more than I do.” So I always remind us that Sunday is supposed to be a weekly celebration of the resurrection.

Let’s be honest. Most Christians do not observe the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, as commanded in the Old Testament. (I’m always amused that Christians insist that the Ten Commandments should be posted in government buildings when almost all Christians break the fourth commandment on a weekly basis. But that’s another subject for another time.) We call Sunday the Lord’s Day. And for good reason. It’s supposed to be a weekly celebration of the empty tomb which was discovered on the third day – which was the first day of the week.

But this week I was reading Bonhoeffer again. Now I know I quote him often, but that’s because I’m living with him this year through a book in which his writings have been edited into daily meditations. (See the first entry on my “I Recommend...” page.) As is so often the case, that brilliant theologian takes it to a new level. He says we don’t celebrate the resurrection every Sunday morning, we celebrate it every morning.

“The early hours of the morning belong to the community of the risen Christ. At the dawning of light it remembers the morning and how death, devil, and sin were forcibly laid low, and how new life and salvation were given to human beings.”

Throughout the Bible morning and night, light and darkness are metaphors. They were words laden with fear and hope to the ancients. Before the days of artificial light the night was a dangerous time. Not only did they fear for their physical safety because of wild animals and stalking bandits, but they feared for their sanity. There was an ancient belief that overexposure to the moon could make you lose your mind – the lunar body would bring lunacy. That’s why the Psalmist had to comfort himself saying that because his “help comes from the Lord” the heat of “the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night” (Psalm 121:2, 6). Because we no longer fear the night, we no longer anticipate the morning with so much hope, nor greet the morning with so much joy.

Bonhoeffer continues the use of that metaphor for us…

“What do we today, who no longer fear or revere the night, still know of the great joy of our fathers and mothers in early Christendom at the daily return of the light? May we again want to learn something of the praise due the triune God in the early morning – God the Father and Creator, who has preserved our life in the dark night and awakened us to a new day.”

Those are amazing thoughts considering where Dietrich Bonhoeffer had to wake up for so many mornings. I wonder what the mornings looked like in 1943 from the Berlin-Tegel prison, or in 1944 from the main prison of the Gestapo, or in 1945 from the Buchenwald Concentration Camp. I do know this. Even on the morning of April 9, 1945 as he walked to the gallows that Hitler had ordered for him, Dietrich Bonhoeffer still believed in the resurrection.

I want to believe in the resurrection every day, regardless of my circumstances. So I thought I’d try something. I’m trying to wake up each morning with the thought of the resurrection being the first thought I embrace. Before I start my morning ritual, before I run my “to do” list through my mind, before I take my mental preview of my appointments, even before I get out of bed, I’m trying to simply wrap my mind around one thought – He is risen. And I want the rising of the sun to remind me of the morning of that third day – the real first day.

Try it. Let me know if it makes a difference in your life – your life with is composed of single days which always start in the morning.

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Reader Comments (1)

Thanks for your insight on mornings.
I haven't been challenged on the Sabbath Day observance in so long, I forgot it was number 4!
Just one question:
1) I have always thought (believed) that the Sabbath day was for Jewish people in old testament times before Christ came with dire results for those who broke it. Then in the NT time we have Christ as our Sabbath rest for the people of God which we can celebrate everyday. Then there is that commandment number 4! Maybe this I a compromise on my part to make my beliefs fit into my lifestyle which allows me to work no-stop. Thanks for the challenge. I cannot keep up with the new avenues of study that you keep presenting to me.
After hearing you speak of Dietrich Bonnhoeffer and quote him often, I just had to get his biography by Eric Metaxas "Bonhoeffer:Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy". Here was a brilliant theologian who was not in an ivory tower. Reading about this mans life gives me courage to take the tiny little heat that I may get for being a Christian. It also is drawing me into a deeper relationship with Christ, and I'm not even half way through the book.

October 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJerry Schotthoefer

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