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And then, Advent comes

And then, Advent comes.

[Note: The Christian liturgical season of Advent lasts for four Sundays leading up to Christmas.] Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of my heroes, a man who stood up for the Truth in a time when the truth had become perverted by a demagogue, Adolf Hitler, and a people who had become blinded by nationalism. His friends arranged lecture tours in America; Bonhoeffer went, but soon returned to Germany and joined with those who were seeking the overthrow of the Nazi regime… Bonhoeffer led a double life as a pastor in the political underground movement. Such involvement was foreign to the whole tradition of the Lutheran Church, which recognizes the distinction between the authority of the church in things spiritual and that of the state in things political, while acknowledging that both, of course, fall under the authority of God. On September 4, 1940, Bonhoeffer was forbidden to speak in public. He was arrested on April 5,1943 and remained a prisoner until his death in 1945. He was executed by the Nazis on April 9, 1945, less than a half a year before the end of World War II and the end of Hitler’s government. On November 21, 1943, Bonhoeffer, wrote these words in a letter to a friend while imprisoned by the Nazi government on charges of espionage: “And then, Advent comes. So many beautiful memories we share of that season. You were the first to open up for me the world of its music, which we have played together year after year during the Advent weeks. A prison cell is like our situation in Advent: one waits, hopes, does this and that—meaningless acts—but the door is locked and can only be opened from the outside. That is how I feel just now.” Three years earlier—in 1940—while imprisoned, Bonhoeffer wrote a Christmas sermon, which, unfortunately, he was never able to deliver. Almost 80 years have passed, but his words resonate still today. This is an abridged excerpt: “This is about the birth of a child, not of the astonishing work of a strong man, not of the bold discovery of a wise man, not of the pious work of a saint. It really is beyond all understanding: the birth of a child shall bring about the great change, shall bring to all mankind salvation and deliverance. A child, born of a human mother, a Son given by God. The unending comfort of the Almighty God comes to us,

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