Monday, December 25, 2006

A BONHOEFFER CHRISTMAS

ADVENT LIKE A PRISON CELL. During Advent 1943, from a prison cell in Nazi Germany, the young theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote to his fiancé: "A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes, does various unessential things, and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside is not a bad picture of Advent."

A MORE MEANINGFUL CHRISTMAS. Bonhoeffer wrote to his parents: "From the Christian point of view, spending Christmas in a 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. Misery, pain, poverty, loneliness, helplessness, and guilt have an altogether different meaning in God's eyes than in the judgment of men."

TO WHOM GOD TURNS. "God turns toward the very places from which humans tend to turn away. Christ was born in a stable because there was no room for him at the inn: A prisoner can understand all this better than other people. It's truly good news for him; in believing it, he knows he has been made a part of the Christian community that breaks down all spatial and temporal frontiers, and the walls of prison lose their meaning."

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