Monday, April 14, 2008

Jumping across to Build a Bridge

Last week, the Church remembered in her calendar the martyrdom of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor in Germany who was executed in a Nazi Concentration Camp for his involvement in a plot to assassinate Adolph Hitler. This week, the religious press is all abuzz about another critic of the Third Reich, Eugen (yes, spelled correctly) Rosenstock-Hussey. Born in Germany to Jewish parents, he was baptized at the age of 14. He became a professor of legal history and during the rise of Hitler, fled Germany to teach at Harvard University. According to author, Martin E. Marty, Rosenstock-Hussey was often criticized for being too Christian by other Harvard faculty. Aside from his passion for legal history and philosophy, Rosenstock-Hussey is best known for his Aphorisms. Quoted more than Voltaire in the Viking Book of Aphorisms, Rosenstock-Hussey is quite the witty one liner philosopher. Recently, a colleague celebrated one of his witticisms, “Any original thinker knows that he has to jump; later you can build bridges.”

Both in our personal lives and in the life of this congregation, we have had to jump. First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is famous for it’s jumping. It is a quality I greatly admire in the history of this congregation and one that I would celebrate in the development of our lives, this community and in service to the Kingdom. My only addition to the Aphorism would be, “When preparing to jump, remember, you’ll need a good spot on which to build a bridge.” It is a difference in perspective. For most, the only concern is “I” getting to the other side. As long as “I” can make it, everything will be fine. The Christian understands that sometimes one person has to take the risk, but that risk is always tempered by the responsibility of bringing others along. Moses didn’t just find a spot where he could cross the Red Sea, but knew that an entire nation was coming with him. You may have many opportunities to “jump” in your future, but remember, we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. This congregation will face some significant challenges in the year to come, primarily with our physical plant, roof issues, space concerns and the constant challenge of integrating our new members into the Church Family. There are times we may have to “jump.” Pray that each jump we make will be at a place where a bridge can easily be built.

Any man who says he is ‘just’ something has ceased to live. How can he know what he will be tomorrow?” (Eugen Rosenstock-Hussey) [Pastor’s Note: The same would be true for women!]

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