Life Together: Fellowship, Community, Communion

by | Nov 15, 2021 | Faith, Writing and Reading | 0 comments |

Written by German Lutheran pastor, theologian, and anti-Nazi dissident Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together is a classic guide to Christian living. “Christianity means community through Jesus Christ and in Jesus Christ. No Christian community is more or less than this. Whether it be a brief, single encounter or the daily fellowship of years, Christian community is only this.”

Life Together in Fellowship

Last week, the 1951-ers met again, this time for a potluck lunch of chicken potpie, broccoli salad, a ’60s Jello salad, and baked apples. We had agreed to read some of our creative writing, including songs and bad poetry—and did we ever laugh! Though bound by faith rather than shared pasts, we had enough in common to recognize uniqueness and fellowship in one another’s experiences.

“Only in the fellowship do we learn to be rightly alone and only in aloneness do we learn to live rightly in fellowship,” Bonhoeffer wrote.

All afternoon, we listened and talked, alone in our silence and together while speaking in truth, kindness, and caring. Bonhoeffer: “Silence and speech have the same inner correspondence and difference as do solitude and community. One does not exist without the other. Right speech comes out of silence, and right silence comes out of speech.”

The 1951-ers plan to meet again in January for a throw-back-to-the-sixties potluck. Our next topic to share: the jobs we’ve had. A quarterly fellowship in Christian community.

Life Together in Community

After the failure of my first marriage thirty years ago, I gave up atheism and decided to attend church with my children. How little I knew about Christian community but needed all the help I could get, being a single parent.

Bonhoeffer: “The Christian community is not a spiritual sanatorium. The person who comes into a fellowship because he is running away from himself is misusing it for the sake of diversion, no matter how spiritual this diversion may appear. He is really not seeking community at all, but only distraction which will allow him to forget his loneliness for a brief time, the very alienation that creates the deadly isolation of man.”

We stopped attending church after a few years. Experiencing the turmoil of change, the church was no longer a sanctuary or a place of fellowship for us. The fellowship fault was mostly mine.

Though Keith has always lived in Christian community, I had much to learn. Thus, my commitment to the Perennial tradition. That life-long process continues today.

Life Together in Communion

We celebrated the Lord’s Supper in church yesterday. I would not have understood Bonhoeffer’s words when I first started this journey in faith. But I do now.

“The fellowship of the Lord’s Supper is the superlative fulfillment of Christian fellowship. As the members of the congregation are united in body and blood at the table of the Lord, so will they be together in eternity. Here the community has reached its goal. Here joy in Christ and his community is complete. The life of Christians together under the Word has reached its perfection in the sacrament.”

At the beginning of Communion, the Music Director and I played Deep River, one of the best known, best loved spirituals. Lyrics below. Our instrumental version starts at the 59:30 mark.

Deep river, my home is over Jordan.
Deep river, Lord, I want to cross over into campground.

Oh, don’t you want to go to that Gospel-feast?
That Promised Land, where all is peace?

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