Quiet and relaxed. Temperature was just right. Breathing slowly, purposely, focused on the black emptiness behind my eyelids. Listening to the hum of a fan that spun just a little too loudly above my head. No, don’t think about the fan. Blank it out. Open my heart, as I inhale. Breath rushes in through my nose, tickles my throat, and swells my lungs. Is my heart open?   Imagining each throb spreading wider and wider the little muscle that pulses in my chest. But no, that’s not right. Not my literal bloody heart behind my ribs. Open my spiritual heart, did I do it? Am I open? Ugh. Stop filling my thoughts with these stupid questions. Clear my mind so I can hear his voice.

If there was any doubt of the fallen nature of humanity, I think these days that façade is finally falling. Though we want to look to the best side of people, and we want to believe that everyone is basically good, we are bombarded with reminders that this isn’t the case. Sin is on display everywhere we look. Good intentions turn bad as mankind continues to tear itself apart.

Most of you have heard the story of how I cane to be a pastor. It was not my childhood dream or a sense of duty or something like that. It happened slowly and with great resistance on my part. It came through a growing love for theology and a deep desire to know more. The central question I sought answers for was the fundamental inquiry which has long been at the heart of Christian theology. It is, quite simply, “What must I do to be saved?”

If anyone experienced the sturm und drang of waiting and watching for God, it was Dietrich Bonhoeffer.[1]  Sitting in a prison cell, he hoped to be released, hoped for the war to end, hoped to spend Christmas with his family, hoped Jesus would descend with a blast of trumpets. Days turned to months and months rolled into years. While we want to think he was always happy, fulfilled by his faith in Christ, his letters show us the struggles of a real martyr in a real world.