Each day during the season of Advent, a meditation or reflection of some kind will be posted here. Why, you might ask? One response might be that Advent is a subtle season. It doesn’t come easily to us. The primary markers of silence, waiting, contemplation, mercy, and righteousness are easily forgotten or swallowed up by the rest of December’s goings-on.
And so here we are. We’ll begin tomorrow, Sunday, December 2, 2012…but for today, read this brief teaser about the Advent season from World War II-era German pastor & theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Jesus stands at the door knocking (Rev. 3:20). In total reality, he comes in the form of the beggar, of the dissolute human child in ragged clothes, asking for help. He confronts you in every person that you meet. As long as there are people, Christ will walk the earth as your neighbor, as the one through whom God calls you, speaks to you, and makes demands on you. That is the great seriousness and great blessedness of the Advent message. Christ is standing at the door; he lives in the form of a human being among us. Do you want to close the door or open it?
It may strike us as strange to see Christ in such a near face, but he said it, and those who withdraw from the serious reality of the Advent message cannot talk of the coming of Christ in their heart either…
Christ is knocking. It’s still not Christmas, but it’s also still not the last great Advent, the last coming of Christ. Through all the Advents of our life that we celebrate runs the longing for the last Advent, when the word will be: “See, I am making all things new” (Rev. 21:5).
The Advent season is a season of waiting, but our whole life is an Advent season, that is, a season of waiting for the last Advent, for the time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth.
We can and should also, celebrate Christmas despite the ruins around us….I think of you as you now sit together with the children and with all the Advent decorations — as in earlier years you did with us. We must do all this, even more intensively because we do not know how much longer we have.
Letter to Bonhoeffer’s parents, November 29, 1943, written from Tegel prison camp
as quoted in God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas