While I was enjoying a weekend off, Rev Dr David Pitman preached the following sermon. Thanks, David!
STONES – AND THE ROCK OF AGES
Acts 7: 54-60
John 14: 1-14
You may remember reading in the paper some time ago a story about the world’s first inflatable church! It’s made of poly-vinyl and can be transported anywhere on the back of a truck and inflated on the spot. Inside there are inflatable pews, and a blow-up organ and altar. The church even has false stain-glassed windows.
The inflatable church is the invention of a British entrepreneur who reminds us that God’s people once worshipped in a tent that could be put up, taken down, and moved to another place as required. He has a point! Nonetheless, this variation on the bouncy castle children love to play in, runs the risk of being not much more than a lot of hot air!
You and I know that there are no instant churches. At the heart of every church is a community of people who love and serve Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit…..
who build their lives on the strong foundation of faith in the risen Lord Jesus.
Today, within the context of the sermon, we will remember three individual disciples of Jesus who did just that:
The German Lutheran Pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Stephen, the first Christian martyr
and David Sheppard, once Bishop of Liverpool
This year marks the 66th anniversary of the execution of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who participated in the plot to assassinate Hitler. The plot failed. Bonhoeffer was betrayed, imprisoned in 1943 in the Flossenbuerg Concentration Camp in Bavaria, and eventually hanged on the 9th April 1945, only a few weeks before the end of the war.
Whether, as a Christian, Bonhoeffer should have involved himself in the plot to kill Hitler has been the subject of much debate. Bonhoeffer himself believed that the death of the Nazi Dictator was for the greater good of humanity and could, therefore, be justified. He was, at any rate, prepared to give his life for the cause, and finished up doing just that! The letters and papers he wrote while in prison were later collected and published and have been influential right up to this present time.
His personal faith and courage were a powerful witness to those around him. The testimony of the prison Doctor at Flossenbuerg has often been remembered:
Through the half-open door in one of the huts I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer, before taking off his prison garb, kneeling on the floor praying fervently to his God. I was deeply moved by the way this loveable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer.