Editor's note:

Last week, over 45 stu­dents, fac­ul­ty, and staff gath­ered togeth­er in Attle­boro, MA for the third res­i­den­cy of the Boston Cohort of the Ren­o­varé Insti­tute. With laugh­ter, tears, a lot of hugs, and a lot of snacks, we expe­ri­enced togeth­er a week of fel­low­ship and com­mu­ni­ty, learn­ing and grow­ing together. 

What bet­ter way to cel­e­brate this past week than with Diet­rich Bon­ho­ef­fer­’s sweet med­i­ta­tion on the bless­ings of Chris­t­ian com­mu­ni­ty from his book Life Togeth­er? To us at the Insti­tute, he just seems to cap­ture per­fect­ly the great gift we enjoyed sim­ply by being in each oth­er’s presence.

If the idea of spend­ing two years with an inten­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty of fel­low pil­grims — all the while read­ing soul-stretch­ing books and engag­ing in life-shap­ing spir­i­tu­al prac­tices — sounds intrigu­ing, we invite you to vis­it our Insti­tute page. Appli­ca­tions are cur­rent­ly open for the 2018 Chica­go Cohort. 

—Renovaré Team

Excerpt from Life Together

BEHOLD, HOW good and how pleas­ant it is for brethren to dwell togeth­er in unity!’(Ps. 133.1).

The phys­i­cal pres­ence of oth­er Chris­tians is a source of incom­pa­ra­ble joy and strength to the believ­er. Long­ing­ly the impris­oned apos­tle Paul calls his dear­ly beloved son in the faith’, Tim­o­thy to come to him in prison in the last days of his life; he would see him again and have him near. Paul has not for­got­ten the tears Tim­o­thy shed when last they part­ed (II Tim. 1.4). Remem­ber­ing the con­gre­ga­tion in Thes­sa­loni­ca, Paul prays night and day … exceed­ing­ly that we might see your face’ (1 Thess. 3.10). The aged John knows that his joy will not be full until he can come to his own peo­ple and speak face to face instead of writ­ing with ink (2 John 12).

The believ­er feels no shame, as though he were still liv­ing too much in the flesh, when he yearns for the phys­i­cal pres­ence of oth­er Chris­tians. Man was cre­at­ed a body, the Son of God appeared on earth in the body, he was raised in the body, in the sacra­ment the believ­er receives the Lord Christ in the body, and the res­ur­rec­tion of the dead will bring about the per­fect­ed fel­low­ship of God’s spir­i­tu­al-phys­i­cal crea­tures. The believ­er there­fore lauds the Cre­ator, the Redeemer, God, Father, Son and Holy Spir­it, for the bod­i­ly pres­ence of a broth­er. The pris­on­er, the sick per­son, the Chris­t­ian in exile sees in the com­pan­ion­ship of a fel­low Chris­t­ian a phys­i­cal sign of the gra­cious pres­ence of the tri­une God. Vis­i­tor and vis­it­ed in lone­li­ness rec­og­nize in each oth­er the Christ who is present in the body; they receive and meet each oth­er as one meets the Lord, in rev­er­ence, humil­i­ty, and joy. They receive each other’s bene­dic­tions as the bene­dic­tion of the Lord Jesus Christ. But if there is so much bless­ing and joy even in a sin­gle encounter of broth­er with broth­er, how inex­haustible are the rich­es that open up for those who by God’s will are priv­i­leged to live in the dai­ly fel­low­ship of life with oth­er Christians!

It is true, of course, that what is an unspeak­able gift of God for the lone­ly indi­vid­ual is eas­i­ly dis­re­gard­ed and trod­den under foot by those who have the gift every day. It is eas­i­ly for­got­ten that the fel­low­ship of Chris­t­ian brethren is a gift of grace, a gift of the King­dom of God that any day may be tak­en from us, that the time that still sep­a­rates us from utter lone­li­ness may be brief indeed. There­fore, let him who until now has had the priv­i­lege of liv­ing a com­mon Chris­t­ian life with oth­er Chris­tians praise God’s grace from the bot­tom of his heart. Let him thank God on his knees and declare: It is grace, noth­ing but grace, that we are allowed to live in com­mu­ni­ty with Chris­t­ian brethren.

Excerpt­ed from Diet­rich Bon­ho­ef­fer­’s Life Togeth­er (New York: Harper­One, 2009). Via Vine Church.

Starting Soon: The 2020-21 Renovaré Book Club

An inten­tion­al way to read for trans­for­ma­tion not just infor­ma­tion. Runs Sep­tem­ber 2020 through May 2021.

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