Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hung at age 39 as a spy, just ten days before German forces began to surrender. If you haven’t read about his life, or read his writings, you are missing O so much. Truly. He wrote prolifically from prison, many many letters and stories to his family and to his fiance, Maria. While in prison, there “was a helplessness in his situation that he recognized as a parallel to Advent, Christians’ time of waiting for redemption in Christ.” Bonhoeffer: “Life in a prison cell may well be compared to Advent…One waits, hopes, and does this, that, or the other – the door is shut, and can only be opened from the outside.”
Well. We all have areas or circumstances in our lives where either we or someone deeply loved by us have found themselves in that kind of a situation. We can learn much from this real hero…
“Through all the Advents of our life that we celebrate runs the ongoing for the last Advent, when the work will be ‘see, I am making all things new‘ “(Rev. 21:5)
I am just a bit undone when I read this excerpt from a letter he wrote to his fiancee during the Christmas season. Please read this and re-read it a day or two later – it really is quite profound, and once it is understood, so very encouraging.
“Be brave for my sake, dearest Maria, even if this letter is your only token of my love this Christmas tide. We shall both experience a few dark hours – why should we disguise that from each other? We shall ponder the incomprehensibility of our lot and be assailed by the question of why, over and above the darkness enshrouding humanity, we should be subjected to the bitter anguish of a separation whose purpose we fail to understand…And then, just when everything is bearing down upon us to such an extent that we can scarcely withstand it, the Christmas message comes to tell us that all our ideas are wrong, and that what we take to be evil and dark is really good and light because it comes from God. Our eyes are at fault, that is all. God is in the manger, wealth in poverty, light in darkness, succor in abandonment. No evil can befall us; whatever men may do to us, they cannot but serve the God who is secretly revealed as love and rules the world and our lives.”
letter to fiancee Maria von Wedemeyer from prison, December 13, 1943
If Bonhoeffer can say this…being, living right in the very depths of hell in a Nazi prison, watching his fellow prisoners daily be pulled out and hung, Hitler seemingly unstoppable…if he found solace from this, from the one and only one thing that is truly unshakable, that being the sovereignty of God…Bonhoeffer who is now reunited with his dear Maria, both cheering us on down here, while they watch from heaven as part of the great cloud of witnesses..surely this is worth meditating on and strengthening ones self in the midst of so many things “whose purpose we fail to understand”.
God is in the manger….GOD is in the manger!!!