A child has our life in his hand....

 This Sunday, December 10, at Gloria Dei, our choir leads us in an Advent Service of Lessons and Carols. 

This year's service features readings from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Mystery of Holy Night. 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian and pastor who is probably best known for his courageous opposition to Adolph Hitler in Germany. He was a part of the resistance movement, was arrested and imprisoned in 1943; he was executed by the Nazi regime in April, 1945.

The readings we use this Sunday predate his arrest. Some are taken from an Advent sermon in 1933 on Mary’s Song, the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) and other readings from his reflections on Isaiah 9:6-7 in 1940. In his book, The Mystery of Holy Night, he invites us to apply these readings to our own lives as well as to simply be amazed at the wonder of it all. 

As if to shame the mightiest human efforts and achievements, 
a child is placed at the center of history, 
a child is born of humans: a son, given by God.
That is the mystery of the world's redemption. 
Everything past and everything future is encompassed here.
A child has our life in his hand.

After his arrest, these thoughts and many others from his lifetime of theological study, provided a framework of meaning for him as he faced his imprisonment by the Nazis.

From a letter to his friend Eberhard Bethge in November of 1943:

Life in a prison cell reminds me a great deal of Advent – one waits and hopes, and putters about, but in the end what we do is of little consequence, for the door is shut, and it can only be opened from the outside. 

In a letter to his parents from the prison in Advent 1943, Bonhoeffer wrote. 

From the Christian point of view, spending Christmas in prison doesn’t pose any special problem. Most likely a more meaningful and authentic Christmas is celebrated here by many people than in places where only the name of the feast remains…The misery, suffering, poverty, loneliness, helplessness, and guilt mean something quite different in the eyes of God from what they mean in the judgment of humans; that God will approach where humans turn away, that Christ was born in a stable because there was no room for him in the inn – these are things that a prisoner can understand better than other people; for the prisoner, they really are glad tidings.

May your Advent season be blessed!

God turns toward the very places from which humans tend to turn away…


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Written by Pam Larabee-Zierath


Gathered by Grace, Scattered for Service
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