2018 Advent Series – Day 13
Today, be blessed by this excerpt of an advent devotional by Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
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 unto us. Therefore we adults can rejoice deeply within our hearts under the Christmas tree, perhaps much more than the children are able. We know that God’s goodness will once again draw near. We think of all of God’s goodness that came our way last year and sense something of this marvelous home. Jesus comes in judgment and grace: “Behold I stand at the door. . . Open wide the gates!” (Psalm 24:7)
One day, at the last judgment, he will separate the sheep and the goats and will say to those on his right: “Come, you blessed. . . I was hungry and you fed me.” (Matthew 25:34) To the astonished question of when and where, he answered: “What you did to the least of these, you have done to me.” (Matthew 25:40) With that we are faced with the shocking reality: Jesus stands at the door and knocks, in complete reality. He asks you for help in the form of a beggar, in the form of a ruined human being in torn clothing. He confronts you in every person that you meet. Christ walks on the Earth as your neighbor as long as there are people. He walks on the Earth as the one through whom God calls you, speaks to you and makes his demands. That is the greatest seriousness and the greatest blessedness of the Advent message. Christ stands at the door. He lives in the form of the person in our midst. Will you keep the door locked or open it to him?
Christ is still knocking. 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.” (Revelation 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!”
-from “The Coming Of Jesus In Our Midst” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
We wait for you! Our whole lives are an advent in which we wait for you! Make us hungry. Grant us ever greater hunger, even as you fill us with your grace and blessing. Expand our appetites for you until the beat of our hearts is a continual,”Yes, come soon, Lord Jesus!”
[Note from Tilly: Finding myself pregnant at Christmas for the third time, I’ve committed to do a short advent devotional each weekday of December . They will all be labeled by date and can be found together under the “Advent” subject category.]