My husband, Bruce, gave me a book for Christmas that I am finally reading. Preaching in Hitler’s Shadow: Sermons of Resistance in the Third Reich is edited by Dean Stroud, an ordained Presbyterian minister who also has a PhD in German. The book sets the preaching of Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonheoffer, and others within the historical context of the Third Reich and explores the connection of the preached Word and the Word moving in the culture.
Stroud in his forward to the sermons describes how the Nazis appropriated the language of Christian faith. For its part the Church allowed the Gospel to become filtered through the lens of Nazi ideology, until the Christian faith was toothless; the German Church became part and parcel of the state. He describes these as German Christians. The ideology of race, as German, supplanted the primacy of baptism. The Furer became the new messiah.
How the Spirit is moving through the interstices of civic life has been on my mind as I have been sitting through hours of testimony at Houston City Council, punctuated by chanting crowds, finally culminating in a vote on the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance this past week. The place of religion in America will become increasingly up for debate. How we as Christians engage capitalist Houston and each other is as challenging for us as the effort was for the Confessing Church in Germany to remain faithful as their brothers and sisters in the faith adopted the easy rode of the German Church.
This Sunday we will hear again how the Spirit comes in a violent rushing and with fire. Things can get hot when the Word is spoken. My hope is that we will all have the courage to speak the Word and not be mute, just because it is easier or expedient.