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Meeting Transcript, July 25-26, 1934
|Date||July 25, 1934|
Meeting Transcript, July 25-26, 1934
[Arnold, Eberhard and Emmy papers - T.S.H.]
[Draft Translation by Bruderhof Historical Archive]
part of EA 34/64, Sendbrief
A Sendbrief from the Alm Bruderhof to the Rhön Bruderhof
By the Word Leader, Eberhard Arnold
July 25-26, 1934
Beloved brothers and sisters at the Rhön Bruderhof,
To all of you at our home Bruderhof, we send the power of God's peace, of Christ's love, and of the community of the Spirit, from house to house and from land to land.
For several long days now and once for nearly a whole long night, we have worked, with all our weakness and with all that is given us by God, at the task of giving you a clear insight into the present state of things at our Alm Bruderhof. Hardly had our brother and Servant left when tears flowed over and over again, sometimes here and sometimes there, and for the most part without any obvious reason. The inner suffering of the last two months, which had faithfully and courageously been held within, finally had to be poured out. The dark powers of depression had lain heavily on nearly everybody. In some this had led to circling around and boring into themselves, and to unhappiness; in others, to occasional outbursts of boisterousness; and in still others to a rejection of God's Word and of the prayer of the Church. This was all the harder to see because everybody, really everybody without exception, stood firm, and wanted to stand firm, and to be true and loving to the holy cause and to one another.
Summed up briefly in the words of a member of the Alm Brotherhood, it is a matter of the following: "The heaviness that lies in emphasizing ourselves and our own imperfection finally kills off the living working of the Spirit. Unless all the soul's powers are fully directed to the working of the Spirit, unity can neither remain nor rise anew, as it really should daily. Not only the Word Leader but, just as much, all Brotherhood members of the Alm longed for one thing during this whole time so very much (and unfortunately almost entirely in vain)--that for once all concrete tasks that serve the witness should be energetically tackled. Since this did not take place as much as it should, we always felt unfulfilled and unoccupied in spite of having something to do all day. Besides this, our little communal life and its witness failed to connect up with the events of world history and the unspeakably deep world need of today."
We can sense the sources of the dark fog that had hung over the Alm Bruderhof if we add to these words coming out of this Brotherhood another fact: that the leading of the Holy Spirit was often missing--that leading of the Spirit which is capable of respecting, grasping, and feeling the spiritual-emotional situation of all those present.
God's life has not left you and the Alm Bruderhof for a moment. His protecting hand and His living breath have remained upon you and upon the Alm Bruderhof all the time. So this time, too, has been fruitful. Even the suffering and need of this time have not been in vain. The work, too, has not been for nothing. The faithfulness, love, and unity, the devotion and steadfastness, have not been without fruit. Even those negative feelings that filled the soul (in spite of all efforts to be positive and capable of action) will be of unforgettable significance for all times. The comparison with the beginnings at Sannerz shows also in this a deep-going meaning. But if the child--that is, the daughter Church--is so much alive that it should learn to walk, everything depends on the birth pangs really being left behind us. A new basis must be found so that everything may go right.
Everyone too has the Gemeindestunde on their hearts in a special way. We have recognized that it ought to be impossible for us to find words of truth stale or tasteless. The New Testament has never been abandoned here even though all the emphasis was onesided--there was a heaviness everywhere. And this can only be relieved by finding our way back to the New Testament completely. What can help us out of depression is this: that we strive for a new experience of the Spirit and that we also really believe that it will happen. There must be a real Church life at the Alm Bruderhof; the faith that moves mountains must be there. Only Christ can help us to the truly purest joy.
Now all are asking that we unite in the request for the Spirit. It is necessary to ask for this in unity. It is important at this point of world events for the Church at the Alm Bruderhof to stand behind our young brother and the Rhön Bruderhof and behind those sent out on mission. Without this prayer we cannot go on; it gives strength for the daily life. Through prayer, help must be brought also to another young brother to free him from depression. Unity is best ex-pressed in prayer. It is in prayer that the deepest unity is given. We can only look forward in strength to our task with our guests if we come together every evening in the deepest way.
The religious question was a heavy burden particularly on one young brother. He said that we must be freed from circling around ourselves. He had not done justice to his task in the children's community, and this had become worse and worse the more he thought about it. So he asked that his task with the children be taken from him. His first assumption was that we men are too weak to carry a Service and that he was incapable of the work. He said further that we need the large vision of the Kingdom in order to become free from self-torment and that he had only been a hindrance to the Brotherhood because he got caught up in this self-torment. He was thereupon challenged to objectivity and told that all those in similar need were assured that they were to keep their tasks. He also thought he had not fulfilled his duty because he had not succeeded in finding a relationship with the heart of each child.
In all this, the Word Leader still saw an evil remnant of that hesitation or unfreedom which crushes everything; otherwise this brother would not lay down his Service but coura-geously start anew. If we all were to lay down our Services, the Brotherhood would be sitting there, passive. Who knows whether he happens to have more inhibitions than another? It was emphasized by one Brotherhood member that we had met that evening especially in order to bring these two months quite objectively to a conclusion. He said he had the definite feeling that the Church at the Alm Bruderhof had for some days already been going a different way, which was leading it out of the gloom. The task with orphan children and the task of mission had always been before our eyes as a goal, and always an effort had been made to do something. Some things had also happened. But again and again disappointment had come. The mistake was that the past had not been cleared up thoroughly in an objective way. If full clarity were given now about the past months, we could regard this as a positive turning, as a true, new beginning. And he said that people had the faith and certainty that this new beginning was now coming. He reminded us how often it had been said in these two months that this time was important and unforgettable for our whole life. And so it will remain. All were so thankful for this time; but now out of the clearing comes objective reality.
The Word Leader added the question: "What has to happen for your Service?" He reminded us of what had been recognized, that a deeper community of faith must be found for the children. Each one should now open himself to the Spirit of Christ and forget the old nonsense and stop always turning around himself. To lose oneself in self-laceration is to sin! Whoever has a healthy body and a healthy soul, whoever has strength and gifts, should use them. Otherwise we live in chronic suicide of our soul. Christians have no right to sin against the life given by God! All this is opposed to the Gospel. To wallow in oneself is disastrous. This disease must be banished through faith in Christ; He is action, freedom for action. Under all circumstances there is an abundance of work to do.
In looking back, all Alm Bruderhof members feel they are involved, in that they did not see into things in the complete clarity of the ruling Spirit of unity. Though not all have the same difficulties, each one in his own way feels he has had a part in what happened at the Alm Bruderhof in the last months. Through the experiences of the last days, clarity has been given that there is a way out, that the self-examination was much too human. Therefore uncertainty arose, and the question came again and again: "What is wrong with us?" And no one got any further.
At the conclusion of this time, which is a lesson for all the future, all have the request that the Church may come to this prayer, that God alone shall work, not men. This plea means breaking with self-assurance; it means living for the cause and freedom from being hindered by a lack of success. Why should our success be so important to us? Surely that is God's concern. Where we think about results there is still selfishness, unhealthy self-concern. None of us wants to see his image in a mirror--therefore we are also against all photographs. (The idolizing of self-portraits is obviously meant.) This is a deeply religious matter. Let us have done with looking at ourselves! The experience of the last months showed us what this subjective guilt-consciousness leads to when it circles around itself. The community will go to pieces. This is similar to the Christian revival movement, which goes so far that in the wish to experience emotional gratification, reality is forgotten: it is a "fixing oneself up" before God. We think things are not going well with us anymore, and therefore we should be more deeply aware of our sin. We should make ourselves still smaller than before so that God will have pity on us. That is our self at work!
We may not thus "fix ourselves up" before God. The Gospel of all creation is rather that we are in agreement with what we are, and that then grace comes to us. Otherwise we try to force God, we want Him to be at our service. We want to make ourselves helpless and use God as our mule. But God the Creator expects us to be in agreement with what we are, with what is given us by nature; He expects us in the midst of our destiny to believe in Christ and so to accomplish the same deeds as Christ, yes, even greater ones.
We can see through this past time that we cannot, by ignoring our sinfulness and unworthiness, break with depression and its inner needs, with self-accusation, and with circling around ourselves. What is wrong is not the recognition of our smallness and incapability, in and of itself, but rather that we come to a standstill in the crushing effect of this recognition. So we have to take it for granted that everything we recognize was there right from the beginning. We must not doubt this. The proof follows from it! As long as our insight into our smallness is still not something we take absolutely for granted, we are not yet truly redeemed.
The reality of repentance and of our smallness is effective only if we take our smallness for granted. As long as that which moves us is not God and His Kingdom but instead "my" heart, "my" inadequacy, "my" remorse, and "my" repentance, the whole thing is and remains a completely heathen idolatry, a Buddhistic "I" point of view. With Christ these things are established in advance, and this is made clear once and for all through baptism. The Church assumes that we know this and therefore that we have turned away from all serious sins of "self"; the Church takes it for granted that we already know we are redeemed; she takes this certainty for granted in quite a real way, the certainty out of which we are able to go into the practical work for God's Kingdom.
In these matters Hutterianism emphasizes again and again that if we have done a wrong or neglected a task in rashness and ignorance, we should ask daily for the forgiveness of Jesus Christ and know that we have it. Then we do not wallow around in our own dirt. Only if a conscious destruction of the life for God's Kingdom has taken place does the daily prayer of the Church have no validity; a serious Church discipline must be undertaken in order to come to repentance.
So in Christ we cannot always be expressing our humility. That would be unchildlike. We belong to God's Kingdom; for this our smallness and humility is quietly taken for granted. That is why we kneel before God and lift our hands up to Him, because we recognize this. So we do not need to be constantly declaring this sort of thing; if we speak too often about it, we betray our doubt. We do not have faith if we constantly brood over something which we ought to assume without question to be an established fact. We cannot take up the work entrusted to us as long as we are digging around in our consciousness of sin. This intoxication with self does not belong in the Church.
On the contrary: anyone who really knows how mean and small he is, is so deeply conscious of it that it is utterly impossible for him to keep on talking about it. Instead, he goes to work. But whoever thinks only of himself, and is able to think only of himself, does not go to work; and that is godlessness. We want to see in deeds the proof that this has completely stopped in all Brotherhood members. Otherwise we will all become and remain emotionally disturbed.
The whole Brotherhood feels that all this must be spoken out clearly. Only in this way will the situation become clear. Otherwise our community life will fall apart in its depression. It remains a shocking and impossible situation as long as our inner life is burdened by depression, self-accusation, and self-pity. This burdening of the soul, in spite of its self-abasement, remains self-worship. In baptism we truly believed that we died with Christ. This affliction is a being-in-love-with-oneself. At the bottom of it lies the hidden thought that we are "fixing ourselves up" religiously when we constantly talk about our sins and our lack of gifts. That we are basically sinful and yet liberated from sin should be a matter of certainty to us; and so we get on with the job. But we cannot do this so long as the redemption of Christ's Cross is not clear and not certain to us. Then we have not truly died with Christ; otherwise we could not always be getting tied up in these feelings.
Christ not only died, He rose again from death. So we too have risen. And the limbs that before served injustice are now working tools of the Kingdom of God. Jesus is different from Buddha in that Jesus died really for us and for our sins while Buddha died merely in the illusion of compassion and of denying the world. In a healthy life, the religious question is resolved in how we face reality and our practical tasks. As long as the believing relationship to God himself is clouded in every experience, nearly everything remains self-circling, no matter how humble and pious it is. Everyone, also every young person, has to struggle, but it is nonsense to think that young people have the hardest time. It is equally ungrateful and godless for old or young to feel that their lack of gifts is a heavy burden. This is an absurd attitude that shows an enormous overestimation of their own experience.
A few examples will show what a swamp it was here--during these last two months all real life was on the point of being drowned in it. For example, it was recognized that the pure, childlike joy in one another was missing or was gradually getting lost in the whole community; that especially the young people found it almost impossible to have an innocent, youthful, and genuine friendship. Our young people had almost lost their fresh, budding nature. This is not in keeping with the fine feeling of true brotherly love as we experienced it in Sannerz and now at our new Hutterian Bruderhof. If we deny the budding, unselfconscious quality in feelings of friendship among young people, then our emotional life is in danger of becoming extremely coarse. If we think that as soon as two stand side by side they have to get engaged, then we are falling back into very bad bourgeois ways. Outside, many people are much more natural in these things than we have become used to.
In this as in other matters, the Word Leader had the impression that there was an attempt from the Alm Bruderhof to exert pressure on his conscience by means of accomplished facts, a pressure that tended to divert him from the pure line of clear insight. In answer to this question, one Brotherhood member said this was not done consciously but it was clear that in such an atmosphere the objective clarity of the Holy Spirit could not be present. People felt it was impossible to clear anything up. The Alm Bruderhof members were all guilty of this. None of them felt urged by the objective clarity of the Holy Spirit to recognize this and put an end to it. It even went so far that many felt they could not report anything unfavorable back home; they could not give the Word Leader an unvarnished account of the true state of affairs.
One young brother's inner state showed the situation into which everyone in the Church had fallen, to differing degrees and with very different reactions. Some gave in to depression; others reacted against it by giving in to boisterous silliness. The worst thing was that there was no real thoroughness. Often there were big words but hardly any actions; then more big words followed which by that time some found almost unbearable. That was disastrous. Anyone should have seen what a deep (though carefully concealed) dishonesty this was. And the other Bruderhof received the same words in letters.
My advice here is to be very childlike and turn back to the beginning of the way; then at last, what we have been talking about so much can happen: the first step in faith is fully to renounce all vanity and to give all the false humility that comes from vanity completely into the death of Christ. The first steps toward resurrection are taken when those who believe are no longer concerned with themselves but have turned wholeheartedly to the one great cause of God's Kingdom. We small people must disappear from our own field of vision so that only one question remains in view: "What is happening to God's Kingdom?" What is going to happen to the injustice of the world situation, which cries out to heaven? What is going to happen to Hitler Germany, to Soviet Russia, to the love of most people? What is to become of all this? How shall God's Kingdom come? And how can we do away with all distractions so that we come to the cause entrusted to us by the Church? So we turn from the mystical and emotional words back to the real facts of the case--from such subjective untruthfulness to objective truth--and in doing so we also come back to being able to speak and write openly.
Thus we all recognize that the state of the last months had each one of us boxed up in himself. In order to regain the vision of what is great, we must all become free from everything egotistical, but especially from every kind of egocentric self-abasement. Otherwise, we have all realized, the community falls into slow and sure decay, into self-destruction. The innermost longing of all is to have from now on what is great always and everywhere before our eyes. Community can live only in self-forgetting dedication to what is great. We have all recognized that this self-degrading humility was desperately close to arrogance; also that an arrogance that circles around itself leads the community to ruin.
We all ask for each one for the grace that we may no longer have to think about personal concerns but rather from now on simply do what the Holy Spirit of the Church leads, moves, and urges us toward. All should have such faith in Christ that through His death each and every one is forgiven all sins. We ask for all of us the faith in Christ that by the power of His resurrection no one need think any longer about his sin or his lack of achievement; that we all may believe in Christ in such a way that we are able to perform our daily service without that burden of depression.
After reporting this clearing, which took place in several Brotherhood meetings, I would like now to add a summary of two Gemeindestundes in which I attempted, with a few repetitions, to outline the consequences of this attitude of faith for the inner and emotional life of our Bruderhofs. How often it was put to us that we cannot proceed from the flesh and pass on to the life of the soul, let alone to matters of the Spirit; the reverse--the way that proceeds from the Spirit--is the only way possible in the Church, the only way shown by the Gospel of all creation. Woe to a community if it tries from gloomy depression of soul to rise up to the Spirit! All our own cramped efforts to reach the heights end in downfall! Only the liberating Spirit coming down from above is able to lead the inner life of a community to health, to unity, and to the achievement of God's work, free from all our own efforts.
The need that has oppressed the Alm Bruderhof is revealed most clearly in the emotional state of the Alm Bruderhof members. Thinking about the spiritual leading and care of the community and how it should continue, we have to consider the personal, inner life of the members of the Church. After about two months of inner struggle, the spiritual state of the Brotherhood filled us with pain. Everywhere an emotional and spiritual exhaustion showed itself, which made some almost unable to pray and to hear God's Word and made others hardly even wish to hear it any longer. An all-too-frequent occupation with ourselves, a repeated circling around our common bondage in guilt, around our personal unworthiness, and around our lack of gifts and grace was revealed most clearly as harmful and destructive to God's work. We think all that should stop now.
Our wish and request is that each member may become free from every concern about himself: for example, about his own imperfection or inefficiency. Never again shall the deadly rays of self-seeking and depression go out from us members of the Church; instead, only the light-rays of the Gospel as the tidings of joy shall fill the Church.
It is clear to us all that the personal beginning of faith as innermost humility of heart, as innermost openness to receiving the gift of grace, must be taken for granted in each and every member of the Church. Whoever is certain of this does not talk about it often, but it is his starting point. In the godly life, it is by putting the justice of Jesus Christ into practice that the way to the goal is shown, the way to the Kingdom of God. On this way, we take for granted the full forgiveness of sin, which is given to us in our unfittedness and unworthiness. We may not doubt this basic assumption. We do not need to keep affirming it; it is made sure in our hearts through the Holy Spirit; through Him we are born anew to the justice of God's Kingdom. Not our inadequacy, but God's perfect will is what fills our life and thinking now. Therefore, from now on our entire interest goes away from ourselves toward all peoples of the earth and toward all worlds of God, toward near and far creatures of God, also toward those who have died and those yet unborn. The interest of God's Kingdom embraces the times and spaces of all worlds, of the earth as well as of all other worlds of God with all their spiritual princes and creatures of light. It is in this connection that the Church is given to the earth. That God's Kingdom may become reality on earth, just as real as it is in Heaven--that is what we have to live for. Certainly, for this you need to turn around; but if you always stay at the point of turning, you are not usable for the Kingdom of God. The decisive thing is to see God's Kingdom, to enter God's Kingdom.
We know that rebirth, a change of heart through the renewal of the Holy Spirit, is needed for this vision of the Kingdom, for this becoming one with God's Kingdom; but everything that is human and personal is only a stage to pass through--never the central issue. The child who is born does not concern himself with the event of birth that he has just experienced. When a child is born, he is given to the light of the world; now he is meant to stay turned toward life; all he is and does shall be set toward life. This picture shows us how unhealthy is our preoccupation with ourselves and with our need to be completely poor and transformed. Certainly, rebirth is demanded of us and given to us; but once it has happened, then we belong to life, and the thing to do is to go joyfully to work in a childlike spirit! The important thing is God's work in childlike thought and action! We may, but even more we must, know that personal things are done with.
Also any religious sinking into our spiritual need and poverty must never again be allowed to absorb us. The concerns of God's Kingdom, which transcend the personal, want to use all our powers. When the members of the Church are redeemed in this way and belong to the Kingdom of God in joyful courage, then the young people and the guests will also be drawn in.
In every situation, each Word Leader and Servant of the Word has to hold to this great view. It is just in a mission Church, such as ours is and should be, that we must never lose sight of the task of opening up the great and ultimate things. This task should make us into people who stand erect and look over the whole horizon. For this purpose we are on the earth--not in order to look at ourselves with sadness and dissatisfaction. The Servant of the Word has the task of keeping open a broad and far-reaching outlook into the entire surrounding world. He must have a deep insight into the unpeace and hostility of escalating injustice. He must have an outlook concentrated on the rising Morning Star, on that one point on the horizon where God's Kingdom is approaching us like the Morning Star shining out from the darkness of the eastern horizon. The Kingdom of God comes in the same way as the sun appears. Expectant faith sees how the whole earth is flooded by the light of the Kingdom that breaks in.
The Servant of the Word has to live and work in such a way that all, in order to live sunward, learn to grasp the point of light that is crucial. So the proclamation of the Word, by means of the Spirit of the future, must lift us up out of all self-seeking and self-torment. The Word Leader, like every Servant of the Word, must be supported by all the different responsible members of the Church so that it becomes light over the whole horizon, so that in the whole House of God the jubilant joy of that enthusiasm of the Holy Spirit will shine into all hearts and into all things. Then they will all become as clear as the sun itself.
The written and spoken Word has to pass on this witness at all times. Everything that is printed must serve the one purpose: that the light of the coming Sun may dawn in all hearts. Not one of us has time for himself. Our time belongs to that Love with which we then look out into the whole world. This is how we see the light of the coming Word, which wants to go out to all men. The life of each one in the Church must correspond to how much he directs his vision toward the coming Kingdom.
Therefore the mission of those sent on sales trips or to school does not consist in the zealous buttonholing of people to bring about a personal change in their lives. The only thing laid upon this mission is the view that looks outward, the great prospect toward the coming Kingdom--without allowing anyone to be pressed in this direction. We are the heralds of the last Kingdom; we stand here and go out as bearers of the cause, as envoys, as messengers of God's Kingdom. The turning of all things is near; everything else must collapse. God's love alone shall triumph! With this task, we must always be so turned toward the outside world that we have a word from God to say to it in regard to world history; a word that is coined and weighed for the present historical situation; a word that proclaims to all countries alike a message of the supra-political Kingdom of God, a message that is true for all.
We can be used only when we have given into Christ's death fully and forever all individual self-seeking and all religious or degrading self-examination. Then our limbs, which have previously served injustice, become of service for the justice of the Kingdom and of the Church--from one justice to the other--from the justice of Christ to social justice, from social justice to the justice that brings about peace, to the loving, brotherly justice of Christ's deeds, and so to the work of the justice of God's Kingdom in the Church of Jesus Christ. This is what the Alm Bruderhof is asking of us in various ways.
We have no time left then for self-centeredness and self-contemplation, which makes the spirit stupid and dull and tries to rob us of faith. We have been redeemed from this through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As those who have risen, we enter the light-filled world of the Kingdom of God--the Church of Jesus Christ. So our life takes on a living, revival quality, by means of which it calls people and nations to awake and also awakens us again and again from our religious trance, from that sluggishness which, as sleepiness and self-hypnosis, wants to make us incapable of life. Made alert and bold because Christ has redeemed us from all the needs of our soul, we shall have eyes that remain awake to see how God comes and what Kingdom it is that He brings.
In this atmosphere of expectation that calls to wakefulness, we will always be a community of education for grown-ups and for children. Attempts at moral education that want to force another conscience, an alien conscience, upon us only oppress us. Our common life is opened up for the coming down of the Holy Spirit by the one and only community of education in the Spirit of the Church, whose object is the vision of the Kingdom of God. Only this makes us able, in spite of everything, to believe, to love, to wait, to act, and to work! May God give all of us grace to grasp daily anew this vision, this faith in the Spirit, never more to lose it.
In these days we have all been moved by the question of leading, the question of the responsibility laid upon the Service of the Word, upon the Services of Steward, Housemother, and Storekeeper, upon the Services of education and teaching, and upon all heads of departments, who are entrusted with a special responsibility for their particular work departments. What is important now is to grasp in a new way the meaning of these responsibilities and to find the only possible way of carrying them out, even though we have already spoken about it many times.
Today we are specially concerned with this through comparison with the tyranny in Germany. Here a firm, rigid, and violent leading is enforced by means of a power system. Seldom has it taken place in such an exaggerated and criminal way, but a similar power-principle is also to be found with men elsewhere. One person tries to keep one or many in his allegiance through the power of suggestion so that they want and do what he wills. Our times give examples of this. Hitler and his followers have poured their waves of feeling into the masses.
We all have rejected the power of suggestion as a false way. Through suggestion the will of one person is transferred to the will of others, so that a stream of feelings and emotions goes out from one person to others. The power of suggestion is widespread everywhere in Churches and schools. We reject it for all our Services, and so also for the Service of teacher, which sums up the whole task of the Church toward the children: the task of the Service of the Word and of the Steward is applied here to the children.
How is it, then, with strength for the Service of Word Leader in the Church if suggestion and influence of will are not valid? A solution to this question is to be found only in faith in the Holy Spirit, only in the Supreme Sanctuary--Jesus Christ. There is no other answer! The youth movement also does not give one. It wants the leader to occupy Christ's place in the hearts of the children, to represent what is good. But how is this possible without the guidance of the Holy Spirit? Are we men capable of this? Even if we had the greatest knowledge of human nature, would that be enough to enable us to discern what is truly best in the heart of a child and straightaway to attack and combat the danger of evil? Are we able to do this with our own powers of good? This kind of education is an ideal beyond human achievement!
Only when we have faith in the Holy Spirit does a true leading through the Service take place. Here the issue is the same for us as it is in the Gemeindestunde: that we become united in inward listening to the Holy Spirit, in innermost openness for what God is doing. If we are united, if this unity is revealed in all our hearts, there must be someone who puts it into words and brings it to action. This Service is necessary for all areas of life, whether it is in the teaching of children, in the work in the fields, in work in the kitchen, or on trips, or wherever else it may be. If we really have a sense of responsibility, if responsibility is laid on us in the kitchen, in the office, in the stable, or in the field, or anywhere else, those asked to carry it must be led by the Holy Spirit. Everywhere, this inner instinct of the Holy Spirit always goes in the same way and toward the same goal: namely, that the image of the justice and love of Jesus in its purity, the image of the full truth of God and Jesus Christ, may show clearly in all areas of life and work. Therefore the one who is entrusted with responsibility is given the vision and the open eye for any danger that tries to oppose this image of Christ and oust it through something anti-Christian. At the same time and through the Holy Spirit, the responsible person is given a word to say in regard to what is happening in the circle entrusted to him, wherever it may be--in farming, with groups of grown-ups or children, in the Brotherhood, and everywhere.
This inner vision works like this: what is moving in the hearts of the others for Christ and His Kingdom, what is awake to this in their hearts--this must be brought to expression in word and deed by those responsible. That which streams out from a pure feeling of the heart in an urge toward realization and wants to support and carry everything is set to work and given its direction by the Word Leader and the teacher. Any other way is not a real leading. If we do not believe in the Holy Spirit, we are lost for this Service. For the new tasks, the Word Leader lays deeply on the hearts of all (here at the Alm as well as there at the Rhön) his wish that this may be newly given to us in a real and vital way.
For this we must ask God and let ourselves be emptied by putting aside everything that stands in the way. The longer we stay bogged down in ourselves, the more we chase away the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Christ wants to redeem us from our imperfections. This means that we no longer feel them, that we no longer think of them, that we now only think of God's cause and only concern ourselves with the working of the Holy Spirit in everything. Starting from there, we have to see that from now on the working of the Holy Spirit comes to the right expression, to the words and actions it demands. This applies to all members of the community, really to all; certainly in the first place to the Word Leader, then to the other responsible members, but ultimately to each and every one. It is clear to us all that we cannot depend on good will to carry this out; we depend on the gift of the Spirit from above.
In this experience, our own will vanishes in an amazing way; not through doing violence to ourselves, but in the same way as the darkness vanishes before the light. Our own will goes out because the light enters in. Through this, however, a man does not become apathetic; instead, the power of the light is within him; in his new freed state, the power of God's will makes him strong. This has to be experienced. We have all experienced it, and we must ask God that we may experience it again and again. The Holy Spirit wants to make it so light in us that we not only follow what He has revealed in ourselves, but that we see further and grasp what the same Spirit inspires and brings to action in other members of the Church, especially in the most childlike among them. I could almost say: it is more important for the Service of the Word and for the closely related Service of teacher to perceive the voice and the dawning light at work at that moment in others and to express it in such a way that it brings clarity--to perceive then and there the movement of hearts that this gives rise to in others--this is more important than heeding our own heart.
The Service of the Word, like all other Services of the Spirit, has first and foremost to grasp the inward and outward situation of the whole gathered group, its spiritual atmosphere, and the divine purpose behind all that inspires and stirs it. And if the little group expresses this moved atmosphere in a way that is awkward, perhaps too emotional or childish, in a way that is perhaps not even realistic or fitting, or that seems contradictory, then the Service appointed by God and His Church exists just for that--to give clear expression in word and deed to what is given in the atmosphere (which less mature members are not yet able to formulate in a fitting way); to give exact expression to just what is holy and what moves and fills their hearts. This really seems to me to be the most essential in that true leading with which the Service of the Word and all other heads of departments are entrusted.
But now I must finally try to close. Perhaps it still seems contradictory of me on the one hand to challenge everyone to leave self-circling and to take up the cause and the work, and at the same time to try to bring to the light once more the wrong ways of the past months. I see the resolution of this contradiction in the fact that the self-circling can only stop when we are redeemed from it and that a part of this redemption is a complete clearing. Without this we cannot take a distance from it. But how does it happen that the redemption and liberation that were once given seemed to have been lost again to such a great degree? Basically, what I mean by this question is the challenge to believe in Jesus Christ!
This is also especially close to our sister's heart; it has become very clear to her that we become unjust and ungrateful toward what is given as soon as we sink into self-circling. She knows that in the last analysis it is a matter of an attack by the destructive power of evil. Basically, it is unbelief and an indication that redemption has not been understood.
I am enclosing a special report of twelve pages covering our work departments, as well as a short extract from our survey about the situation in the children's community, plus a faithful ten-page report written by our Adolf. I hope that these things provide enough information to make everything as clear as our limited powers are able to make it, so that now at last I can turn once again to Innenland. The freeing that is already starting here will no doubt be crowned by answers coming from you all. Please accept the effort shown by this large amount of paper for what it is--the weak expression of a strong love that fills me and all of us toward each one of you. So I embrace all you dear brothers and sisters, with faithful greetings, as your Servant of the truth and of love.