PSALMS: The Church by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

The Prayer Book of the Bible

The Church by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

From Psalms

Psalms 27, 42, 46, 48, 63, 81, 84, 87, and others sing of Jerusalem, the City of God, of the great festivals of the people of God, of the temple and the beautiful worship services.  It is the presence of the God of salvation in his congregation for which we here give thanks, about which we here rejoice, for which we long.  What Mount Zion and the temple were for the Israelites the church of God throughout the world is for us – the church where God always dwells with his people in word and sacrament.  This church will withstand all enemies (Psalm 46), its imprisonment under the powers of the godless world will come to an end (Psalms 126 and 137).  The present and gracious God, who is in Christ who in turn is in his congregation, is the fulfillment of all thanksgiving, all joy, and all longing in the psalms.  As Jesus in whom God himself dwells, longed for fellowship with God because he had become a man as we (Luke 2:49), so he prays with us for the total nearness and presence of God with those who are his.

God has promised to be present in the worship of the congregation.  Thus the congregation conducts its worship according to God’s order.  But Jesus Christ himself has offered the perfect worship by perfecting every prescribed sacrifice in his own voluntary and sinless sacrifice.  Christ brought in himself the sacrifice of God for us and our sacrifice for God.  For us there remains only the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving in prayers, hymns, and in a life lived according to God’s commands (Psalms 15 and 50).  So our entire life becomes worship, the offering of thanksgiving.  God wants to acknowledge such thanksgiving and to show his salvation to the grateful (Psalms 50 and 23).  To become thankful to God for the sake of Christ and to praise him in the congregation with heart, mouth, and hands, is what the psalms wish to teach us.

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