God Is On the Cross by Dietrich Bonhoeffer is a devotional book containing reflections on Lent and Easter that would normally be read over the days from Ash Wednesday to Easter but since I do not personally celebrate Lent, I just read the entire book as I would any other book. It is a wonderful book full of insight, inspiration, and encouragement which is just as relevant for any season of the year as it is for Easter.
The book contains forty devotionals with the themes of prayerful reflections, self denial, temptation, the purpose of suffering, and the meaning of the cross. All devotionals are taken from the writings and sermons of Bonhoeffer and each day also contains pertinent scripture from the Bible. Letters from Bonhoeffer to his parents, friends, and fiancee and a few passages from other Christian writers are included in the book.
I was touched by all the devotionals but the message that touched me most was Bonhoeffer's definition of Easter. "Easter is not about immortality but about resurrection from a death that is a real death with all its frightfulness and horrors, resurrection from a death of the body and the soul, of the whole person, resurrection by the power of God's mighty act. This is the Easter message." And as so many today seem to think, Easter is NOT about the Easter bunny and colored eggs. I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to delve deeper into the true meaning of Easter and what it means to the world.
This book was provided to me free by Westminster John Knox Press and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review.
While many of us moan about what to give up for Lent, one of the most important components of Lent is to go on a bit of a spiritual journey - to think, to mediate, to repent (to change) while seeking meaning and understanding, especially about God's place in our life. For a deceptively simple, yet deeply profound resource, you need to look no further than Dietrich Bonhoeffer's GOD IS ON THE CROSS - RELECTIONS ON LENT AND EASTER.
Born in Germany, Bonhoeffer was a Christian Minister and Professor and is considered to be one of the most renowned theologians in the 20th century. His story is told in the Preface and it is almost as inspiring as his writings. It certainly gives pause to reflect on his situation when many of our current woes have us whining about slow computers and traffic jams.
After suffering long imprisonment and punishment for his anti-Nazi activities, Bonhoeffer at the age of 39 is hanged by the Nazis I just ten days before they started to surrender at the end of World War II. This must have been such a huge loss for his remaining family and friends, not already killed in the conflict. Fortunately, he was a prolific writer and many of his books, teachings and letters remained.
Carefully edited into forty devotions with weekly themes, GOD IS ON THE CROSS offers thoughtful messages centred around the themes of prayerful reflection, self-denial, temptation and suffering with a special selection of devotions for Holy Week. As Easter and Lent varies each year, the book is not organized by calendar dates, but rather starts at Ash Wednesday and goes to Easter Sunday. Most of the reflections are based on Bonhoeffer's writings with some additions from traditional sources as well as from the Bible. These are referenced in detail at the back of the book.
As each reflection is read, you can't help but reflect both on the message as well as being filled with awe at how Bonhoeffer remains so steadfast in his acceptance of circumstances and his unshakeable faith in God. Yet his writings are not of his conditions, but of his faith and thanks to God despite the circumstances. As noted in one of his letters quoted in a reflection: "Yes, things are horrible, but where are they not?"
Reading ahead to write the review, my personal favourite reflection and the one that touched is: "Those who have found God in the cross of Jesus Christ know how wonderfully God hides himself in this world and how he is closest precisely when we believe him to be more distant." That is the message of Easter -Remember I am with you!"
Even though we are in the middle of Lent now, it is not too late to pick up and enjoy this book! It is a reflection treasure to keep or to share with others.