When I was a very new Christian… No, let’s start again. When, as a young adult, I was very newly beginning to explore my Christian faith, I was fascinated by Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison. I read and re-read the Collins Fontana paperback edition, priced at five shillings (25p in brackets), which I still have on my shelves. Even though I’ve also bought more recent, expanded, probably better editions, this little paperback with its brown pages still has a place in my heart.
One of the things that I have loved, was Bonhoeffer’s use of the Moravian Losungen or ‘daily texts’ for his personal prayers and devotions, and in his work with the theological students of the Confessing Church, whom he taught at the ‘underground seminary’ of Finkenwalde.
According to the Moravian website,
The Losungen are a devotional book, which for each day of the year contains two Bible verses: the Losung from the Old Testament and the teaching text from the New Testament. The two texts are complemented by a verse from a hymn, or a prayer. The OT text is drawn by lot, the other texts are chosen to fit the theme.
The Losungen are a way to let God’s Word speak to our everyday lives. They can be a first step in getting to know the Bible in all its breadth and depth. The Losungen have been published year by year since 1731 by the Herrnhuter Community of the Moravian Brotherhood.
For January 1, 2017, there is a super-abundance of watchwords: for the Year, for New Year, for the month, and for the day:
For the year, 2017:
God speaks: I will give you a new heart, and set a new spirit within you. (Ezekiel 36.26)
For New Year:
Everything that you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, and give thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3.17)
For the month of January:
At your word I will cast out the nets (Luke 5.5)
For January 1:
Serve God with your whole heart and with a willing soul, for the LORD searches every heart. (1 Chronicles 28.9)
The God of peace make you strong in all goodness, to do his will, and perform in us what pleases him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be honour from eternity to eternity! (Hebrews 13.20-21)
(My translations from the German may differ from our English Bible translations. But that’s part of the appeal for me: reading the Bible in another language often gives us new and different insights. Though the Watchwords are also available in English and more than 50 other languages.)
I hope you find in today’s texts some encouragement as we embark upon the unknown, and possibly dangerous waters of 2017.