Thus there remains only one path for those who in following Jesus want to truly serve God in worship, and that is the path of reconciliation with their sisters and brothers.
Anyone who comes to the word and sacrament with an unreconciled heart stands judged by doing so. Such a person is a murderer in God's sight. That is why you must "first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift." It is a difficult path Jesus imposes on his disciples. It includes much humiliation and dishonor for the disciples themselves. But it is the path to him, our crucified brother, and thus, it is a path full of grace. In Jesus, service to the least brother or sister and service to God became one. He went and was reconciled to his human kindred, and then he came and offered himself, the one true sacrifice, to his Father.
"So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother and sister, and then come and offer your gift." Matthew 5:23-24
Questions to Ponder
Bonhoeffer states that: "It is a difficult path Jesus imposes on his disciples." What makes it difficult?
He also states that, "it is a path full of grace." Where is the grace?
How did Jesus model the truth that, "service to the least brother or sister and service to God became one"?
O guard my life, and deliver me;
do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you. Psalm 25:20-21
Is there someone with whom you need to be reconciled? Write about the circumstances that led to alienation from this person.
What step(s) might you take to begin the process of reconciliation?
Prayer for Today
Gracious God, thank you for reconciling me to yourself; now make me a reconciler.
40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Copyright © 2007 Augsburg Books, imprint of Augsburg Fortress.