Seventy-seven years ago this month, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hanged in a Nazi concentration camp. One of the best-known and most-admired Christian in the modern world, he packed several lifetimes into his brief 39 years. He was imprisoned and killed after being implicated in a failed attempt on Hitler’s life, and in many other subversive acts against the government.
Bonhoeffer said that Christ exists not just in community but as community. Jesus exists as a “gathering” when believers cluster and congregate at the table, where they hear his word anew, “This is my body.” They lose their life-in-Christ if they cut themselves off from the gathering. How members of that body treat each other and serve others is emphatically richer if they keep in mind that they are participating not in mere community but in Christ-as-community.
This message is excerpted from “Exemplar” by Martin E. Marty from the April 2015 Gather magazine. Today we commemorate Dietrich Bonhoeffer, theologian, 1945.
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