In 1937 German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote what has become a Christian classic book, "The Cost of Discipleship." In it he draws inspiration from Jesus' sermon on the mount. One of the most quoted parts of the book deals with the distinction which Bonhoeffer makes between "cheap" and "costly" grace. According to Bonhoeffer, "cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, ultimately - grace without Jesus Christ."
Cheap grace", Bonhoeffer says, is to hear the gospel preached as follows: "Of course you have sinned, but now everything is forgiven, so you can stay as you are and enjoy the consolations of forgiveness." The main defect of such a proclamation is that it contains no demand for discipleship. In contrast to cheap grace, "costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. It is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: 'My yoke is easy and my burden is light.'"
Bonhoeffer who was a supporter of an anti-Hitler conspiracy was executed at Flossenbürg on April 9, 1945, just 2 weeks before this Nazi concentration camp was liberated by the US Army. In resisting "cheap grace," Bonhoeffer died for his resistance to the Nazi cause and its leader.
The prayer temperature is rising nine days into our 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting at St Hilda's, Upper Hutt. With Pentecost Sunday upon us tomorrow we are noticing reports of effective prayer in the St Hilda's community.
We remind ourselves that this prayer initiative was prompted as we approached the ordination of a new Bishop in Wellington. Well, that happened last night as Ellie Sanderson became the Assistant Bishop of Wellington during a wonderful celebration of diocesan life and faith at the Wellington Cathedral of St Paul.
The Archbishop of Canterbury in England had promoted worldwide prayer for Christian outreach and we have been viewing some of the videos produced for that initiative - two of them are on the home page of this website currently. And, this time between Ascension Day and Pentecost Sunday has always been promoted as a time of prayer for Christian unity. In that regard, the episcopal ordination service last night was also a celebration of Christian unity. The Cardinal Archbishop John of Wellington was there and the preacher was Pastor Amy Page-Whiting, Senior Pastor at the Cashmere New Life Church in Christchurch. There were Bishops present from all around the country and the Pacific and Christians from all around the diocese.
Closer to home, last Sunday about 15 people from St Hilda's gathered after the 10:30am service at Jocelyn's new home for a house blessing before sharing in a scrumptious lunch and rich fellowship.
During the week another house blessing and prayer took place in the Parish as the Parish Chaplain Judy joined me, and two from Prison Fellowship, to pray at the home of an ex prisoner who had requested a house blessing following some disturbing experiences. When I returned yesterday he was very peaceful as he gave thanks during a home communion service and spoke of his desire to follow Jesus again.
During the Thursday communion service this week, Grace talked of some of the answers to prayers (recorded in a notebook she keeps) that she and her group have received. She talked of a young girl run over and badly injured finding healing. And also of an older girl who has found the work she sought and more, after a time of waiting and doing menial work.
Let us praise God that pray works. Let us keep praying and talking about prayer answered.
Terry Alve - Interim Priest at St Hildas.
St Hilda's have taken a cue from the Wellington Diocesan Week of Prayer initiative, "Come Holy Spirit" to keep the time from the Sunday after Ascension Day to Pentecost Sunday as a time of focused Prayer. Something that also echos the Church England initiative, "Thy Kingdom Come".
This prayer focus will be expressed in all St Hilda services from Ascension Day (25 May) until Corpus Christi (15 June). Worshipers will be encouraged to be regular in prayer, to notice answered prayer, in whatever form it comes; and to be thankful. They will be encouraged to talk about their praying, some of them may choose to talk about it in Church services. The following services will have a Prayer Focus:
St Hilda's News
St Hilda's Anglican church and parish, Upper Hutt is a special place for many people. This News section of the website is designed to keep you in touch with what's going on in this community of Christian faith and love.