These I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer…for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” Isaiah 56:7
Musings: Advent 2, The Coming of Jesus In Our Midst
December 4, 2020
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor in Germany during the time of Hitler. Bonhoeffer worked with the resistance to try and overthrow Hitler and he was arrested and sent to one of the camps. That did not stop his voice, however. He wrote to family, friends, and to his fiancée from prison and many of his writings are still with us. Bonhoeffer was executed in prison, about two weeks before US troops liberated the camp.
In two books that I read and meditate on during Advent, there is an excerpt from one of his writings that I would like to share. The title is called “The Coming of Jesus in Our Midst”, and it is found in a book called, “Watch for the Light.”
“We have become so accustomed to the idea of divine love and of God’s coming at Christmas that we no longer feel the shiver of fear that God’s coming should arouse in us. We are indifferent to the message, taking only the pleasant and agreeable out of it and forgetting the serious aspect, that the God of the world draws near to the people of our little earth and lays claim to us. The coming of God is truly not only glad tidings, but first of all frightening news for everyone who has a conscience. Only when we have felt the terror of the matter, can we recognize the incomparable kindness”.
These words grab my attention. They affirm what I know deep down – that from time to time I fall short of being Jesus’ hands and feet in the world. At times, I know the right thing to do, and yet fail to do it. And if you read the Letter of James, you will realize that this is his definition of sin (James 4:17). What is amazing to Bonhoeffer, and to me, is that knowing that God loves me without restraint, even as imperfect as I am, is cause for both deep gratitude and overwhelming hope.
As we move into this season of Advent, I encourage you to take time to read and digest these words that Bonhoeffer wrote from prison, and that you may feel inclined to do your own inventory of areas that I fondly call “growth opportunities”. The goal of the reflection time should not be to come away feeling badly, but rather to realize the gift of God’s love, which is unconditional and infinite. That is our hope as Christians, that the God who loved us first and loves us still, wants us to prepare a sacred place in our hearts to receive him, not only at Christmas but throughout the year.
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