Many of you already know this, but I have a strong German heritage — my father came from a small German community near Brenham and German was his first language. Visiting my grandparents included church services in German, dinner conversations in German, many German traditions (including hunting for the NEST that the Easter bunny left — filled with colored eggs and candy), and lots of accordion music and polkas! I thought it was wonderful! The people were so kind and jovial, neighbors helped neighbors, the church was the center of the community, and the beer hall/ice cream parlor (remember, it was close to Brenham — Blue Bell!) was always filled with laughter as the Saturday afternoon gathering of men played checkers, often letting my brother and me join in.
When I was in 4th grade, I remember flipping through an old Britannica Almanac from the 1930s on a boring Sunday afternoon and laughing out loud at a picture of a group of men piled on top of each other making goofy faces. Then I read the caption. The horror and shock of that moment has never left me. It was a picture from a Nazi concentration camp — and those weren’t men making goofy pictures for the camera, but dead bodies piled on top of each other heading for a mass burial. I then began to read about the Nazis and those concentration camps and the unbelievably cruel and horrific treatment of Jews. These were Germans! My family’s heritage! My lineage! How could this be? How could good people become so evil? Even if they weren’t Nazis or directly involved, how could they have not known what was happening — and why didn’t they do something about it? Where was the moral outrage? Where was the Church?
In seminary, I was introduced to Dietrich Bonhoeffer — a German pastor and theologian who wrestled with these same questions. Deep soul searching questions that led him to participate in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler — something which conflicted with his deepest beliefs and resulted in his being hanged by the Nazis. In the book, “Letters from Prison” we were introduced to the questions and internal debates with which Bonhoeffer struggled. This book has been widely read for years and has had a profound impact on Christian theology.
This Sunday, we are honored to host Al Staggs who will be presenting his one-man show on Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In “A View from the Underside: The Legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.” Al Staggs reenacts Bonhoeffer’s time in prison and his soul searching contemplations. It has received many accolades over the years and promises to provide much food for thought and evoke some profound conversations.
What Can We Learn from Dietrich Bonhoeffer? Why is his story important to Christians in today’s world? Read more about this fascinating legacy here and join us this Sunday, acclaimed performing artist Al Staggs will present “A View from the Underside: The Legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer as part of our FUMCFW Goostree Lecture Series.
I look forward to joining you in the sanctuary this Sunday as we worship together and are inspired by Al Stagg’s performance as our message.
Associate Pastor of Adult Education