"Are we prepared? Is our heart capable of becoming God’s dwelling place?..It is very remarkable that we face the thought that God is coming so calmly, whereas previously peoples trembled at the day of God, whereas the world fell into trembling when Jesus Christ walked over the earth. 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. God comes into the very midst of evil and of death, and judges the evil in us and in the world. And by judging us, God cleanses and sanctifies us, comes to us with grace and love. God makes us happy as only children can be happy. God wants to always be with us, wherever we may be—in our sin, in our suffering and death. We are no longer alone; God is with us. We are no longer homeless; a bit of the eternal home itself has moved into us.
It is not yet Christmas. But it is also not the great final Advent, the final coming of Christ. Through all the Advents of our life that we celebrate goes the longing for the final Advent, where it says: “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5). Advent is a time of waiting. Our whole life, however, is Advent—that is, a time of waiting for the ultimate, for the time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth, when all people are brothers and sisters and one rejoices in the words of the angels: “On earth peace to those on whom God’s favor rests.” Learn to wait, because he has promised to come. “I stand at the door….” We however call to him: “Yes, come soon, Lord Jesus!”"
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906-1945, was a German theologian martyred under the Nazi regime. This excerpt is from “A Testament to Freedom, the Essential Writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer", edited by Geoffrey Kelly and Burton Nelson.
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