Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Advent

“Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”- Charlie Brown

Over the years, my wife has inspired me (…ok, forced me…) into daily readings during the Christmas Advent season. She usually buys a book with readings and a bible verse for every day of Advent. I tend to be cynical and grumpy by nature, more so during the “Holiday Season”. To me most of the Advent readings are like bad Hallmark cards, mind-numbingly banal with extra cheese. So I suffer through the process, trying to appreciate the occasional scripture readings and ignoring the puppies and snowflakes. But this year has been different. When she offered up the reading options, the list included Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “God is in the Manger”. Having read some of his works and knowing his story, I said let’s do this one.

Bonhoeffer was a German and a Lutheran minister who resisted Hitler and the Nazis. He was eventually arrested by the Gestapo in 1943, ended up in a concentration camp and was hung in April 1945, only a few weeks before Allied forces liberated the camp. He was 39 years old. Included in this advent book are excerpts from letters he wrote while in prison. Bonhoeffer was a devout Christian who spoke out against evil when most of his countrymen and even fellow Christians remained silent. What he has to say about this world and the meaning of the Incarnation are worth reading.

If you want to know what Christmas is about, read Bonhoeffer.

“A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes - and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas

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