On being alone and together

The following „Solitariness & brotherhood“ is from Hermann Dietzfelbinger´s: „Pastoral care of the pastor”

One thing more must be added. It is true that Christ meets me in my brother, but that brother is not Christ. And brotherhood is not simply a formula that merely needs to be followed in order to be a good pastor. It cannot be reduced to a means, but it dare not be made a law. Therefore, in brotherhood there must also be solitude. But this will be a solitude quite different from that which we spoke of at the beginning. One of the mysteries of the Christian life is that it is realized in the polarity between solitariness and fellowship in the presence of God. Neither must be lacking. One who craves fellowship without solitariness falls into impersonality and lapses into a religious standardization that is far more legalistic than technical standardization. And one who seeks solitude without fellowship is close to the abysses of pride or despair. All pastoral care must be aware of this polarity.

Yes, flee from Your solitariness into the fellowship and seek out Your brother; but also stand alone before the Lord! Common worship and common prayer are indispensable to the Christian life; but the solitary hour of prayer is equally indispensable. There are many things that a pastor has to struggle through and suffer through in utter solitariness in the presence of God, and a man who has to confide everything to others and cannot keep anything to himself is no pastor of souls. The words we speak in pastoral care become worn, impotent, and feeble if they are not repeatedly cleansed and strengthened and renewed in the solitude of prayer. The brotherly counsel of others is good, but Jesus can care for our souls in silence and solitude too.

Quiet listening to the Word is part of common study of the Scriptures, and it may well be that I can learn more about how to deal with modern secularized men from this solitary, face-to-face conversation at the well of Jacob (John 4) than from a whole course of lectures on this problem, just as all the psychology in the world cannot give to me the key to the knowledge of men that I find in John 1,4.9: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.” The way to learn other men´s hearts is to know one´s own heart in that place of solitude before God.” (Dobberstein 323f)

Jesus und die Emmausjünger (Lk.24)

About Wilhelm Weber

Pastor at the Old Latin School in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg
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