From the Bible
Read Matthew 5:43-45
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i]and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
About Eberhard Arnold
Eberhard was born in Königsberg, Germany (now Kalinigrad of the Russian Federation) in 1883 to a middle class family. After a rambunctious childhood, he experienced an inner change at the age of 16. He became active in evangelism and had increasing compassion for the poor.
He married Emmy von Hollander. They would have five children. Both were growing more discontent with the new movements of urbanization and factorization in Germany. They criticized the state church of Germany for various reasons, later their critique would help motivate modeling another new movement. In 1915 Arnold became editor of Die Furche (The Furrow) and was a gifted and sought-after speaker in the region.
Arnold supported Germany during the first World War at first, even enlisting for a few weeks before being discharged for medical reasons. He sent copies of The Furrow to young people at the front lines. The returning soldiers had a profound influence on Eberhard, where he had an increasingly difficult time reconciling the gospel with war.
During the war, the Germans sustained incredible loss. Afterwards, hunger protests and strikes were common in the political upheaval and national shame. Among groups working for change, the Youth Movement inspired Arnold with their love of nature, rejection of materialism, and aspirations towards joy and love. Eberhard and Emmy began meeting with Youth Movement people once or twice a week in homes.
In 1920, the couple along with Emmy’s sister Else moved to the village of Sannerz to found the Bruderhof (place of brothers) community with seven adults and five children. Their community was founded on the Sermon on the Mount and the witness of the early church. They grew and needed a bigger farm. Eberhard’s writing continued and he began corresponding with the Hutterite Brethren, an Anabaptist group that had fled to and flourished in the US. The Bruderhof’s values now also included a common purse as well as pacifism.
The rise of the Nazi party was a catalyst for the Bruderhof to send their children (school age and draft age) out of the country as war resisters. The rest of the community eventually also fled, and Eberhard sustained a leg injury during the travel that would lead to his death on this day in 1935. The Bruderhof groups re-assembled in England before being forced out of country. MCC helped them relocate to Paraguay, the only country that would accept a pacifist community with mixed nationalities. The Bruderhof communites are now in four states in the US as well as Germany, Paraguay, and Australia.
“Love sees the good Spirit at work within each person and delights in it. Even if we have just been annoyed with someone, we will feel new joy in them as soon as love rules in us again. We will overcome our personal disagreements and joyfully acknowledge the working of the good Spirit in each other.”
printed in Writings
The Bruderhof website [link]