Introduction to Lisa Dahill's Article, "Bonhoeffer's Late Spirituality: Challenge, Limit and Treasure
 Dahill chronicles the impact of such practices. As Bonhoeffer faced his own darkness, the practices of prayer, meditation, and "the silent daily reflection on the Word of God as it applies to me" sustained him. The effect was extraordinary: he fell in love; he found hope; he discovered joy. As Dahill puts it, "[h]is is a grateful spirituality through and through...." This is not what one would expect from a man facing Nazi justice. Yet, the grace he experienced daily left him not fearful and despairing, but filled with the virtue of gratitude. As Dahill puts it, his is a "Christmas spirituality." Thomas might call this "infused" charity, but Bonhoeffer put things more simply, more biblically, and powerfully christologically: Jesus Christ is also the fullness of gratitude; in him gratitude knows no bounds. It encompasses all the gifts of the created world. It embraces even pain and suffering. It penetrates the deepest darkness until it has found within it the love of God in Jesus Christ. To be thankful means to say yes to all that God Gives, at all times and for everything. (Ephesians 5:20)
 Bonhoeffer finds new resonance with twenty-first century Christians. While mainline denominations decline in numbers and income, there is a heightened interest in spirituality among seekers who claim to be "spiritual, but not religious." Bonhoeffer invites tired mainstream Christians to "meet Jesus again for the first time" and to listen to his message of uncompromising grace. At the same time, he challenges seekers to "seek first the Kingdomof God" in a community of believers, discarding the smug righteousness of virtuoso spiritualities. May his example of faith and his witness of joy continue to instruct us!
© December 2006
Journal of Lutheran Ethics
Volume 6, Issue 12