“Life in a prison cell may well be compared to Advent; one waits, hopes, and does this, that, or the other — things that are of no real consequence — the door is shut, and can be opened only from the outside.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters from Prison, 21 November, 1943
Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor, theologian and anti-Nazi dissident. He wrote prolifically about Christianity’s role in the secular world. His book, The Cost of Discipleship, is considered by many to be a must-read. He wrote much against Nazism and was vocal against Hitler. He spent time in concentration camps because of his stance. Ultimately, he was accused of being associated with the 20 July Plot that attempted to kill Adolph Hitler and after a brief trial was condemned to death by hanging.
I can only marvel at his writings, especially his Letters from Prison. I wonder what I would do if I were imprisoned for my faith. I know that I would feel that the imprisonment were unjust and I would not be at all happy. But I wonder if I could write so encouragingly to others while enduring prison life. Bonhoeffer wrote much and some of it relates to this holy season.
Advent is, indeed, a time of waiting and hoping. We engage in all of our many Advent rituals — the Advent wreath, Jesse trees, Advent hymns, Advent Masses, and the like — in an attempt to draw closer to God. However, in the final moment, it is not us who can force God to reveal Himself to us in a different or deeper manner, it is God who freely chooses to come to us. Our work has no power over God but our work has power over ourselves, preparing us for that greater union with God.
There are times that we feel as if Advent is overbearing and too demanding. We wonder why we go through the things that we do. We might even look for other, easier, ways to go through the season. Maybe we ignore it entirely. Our lack of preparation or disregard of the season only hurts ourselves. God is God and will always remain God. God always reaches out to touch the lives of His people. If we fail to look for Him, though, we hold the door tight against Him instead of allowing Him to open the door to our hearts.
Do not allow yourself to be trapped in a self-imposed prison. Use the season of Advent to prepare for the coming of the Lord and rejoice whenever your encounter Him in your daily life..
FAITH ACTION: Spend time in prayer today asking God to open your mind and heart to the reality of His great love for you.