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  • Writer's pictureDana Wade, Coach

A BonHoeffer Advent Meditation

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

Today I wanted to share with you an Advent meditation from Dietrich Bonhoeffer's book, "God is in the Manger." His book contain reflections on Advent and Christmas, and this specific reflection is entitled:

Not Everyone Can Wait

Not everyone can wait: neither the sated, nor the satisfied nor those without respect can wait. The only ones who can wait are people who carry restlessness around with them and people who look up with reverence to the greatest in the world. Thus Advent can be celebrated only by those whose souls give them no peace, who know that they are poor and incomplete, and who sense some of the greatness that is supposed to come, before which they can only bow in humble timidity, waiting until he inclines himself toward us~ the Holy One himself, God in the child in the manger. God is coming; the Lord Jesus is coming; Christmas is coming. Rejoice, O Christendom!

And from his letter to his fiancé, Maria Von Wedemeyer he writes on December 1, 1943, while imprisoned: I think we're gonna have an exceptionally good Christmas. The very fact that every outward circumstance precludes our making provision for it will show whether we can be content with what is truly essential. I used to be very fond of thinking up and buying presents, but now that we have nothing to give, the gift God gave us in the birth of Christ will seem all the more glorious; the emptier our hands, the better we understand what Luther meant by his dying words: "We're beggars; it's true." The poorer our quarters, the more clearly we perceive that our hearts should be Christ's home on earth.

Scripture's Meditation

Then he looked up at his disciples and said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

"Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.

"Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

"Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.

"But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.

"Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry.

"Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.

"Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets." Luke 6:20-26

All of this is sobering and deserves our reflection this Advent/Christmas season.

I didn't grow up learning about Advent, but I have so enjoyed learning these last few years. The four themes of Advent for Bonhoeffer are arranged in the reflections of his book: waiting, mystery, redemption and incarnation. For BonHoeffer, waiting is one of the central themes of the Advent experience, and was a fact of life for him during the war. Waiting to be released from prison; waiting to be able to spend more than an hour a month in the company of his young fiancé, Maria; waiting for the end of the war. There was a helplessness in his situation and he likened his life in the prison cell to the Advent season of waiting.

I realize this isn't a jolly, joyful blog post; but it is an important one that I pray we all contemplate this Advent season. I'm constantly reminded about how important waiting seasons are in our lives. God processes us in the waiting. Becoming truly human requires a lot of change, because we are constantly being shaped into the worlds image.

God our Creator, is constantly giving us opportunities to change and be shaped into the image of the incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ-the truly human one.

You're not alone in your waiting-I'm waiting with you,


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