Advent involves waiting! We all have experienced waiting in our lives. Sometimes that waiting can be filled with preparations for what will be a joyful celebration. At other times in can be tedious, filled with anxiety in anticipation of an outcome we dread. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor who stood against the evils of the Third Reich during World War II. His witness, including his preaching, cost him his freedom and ultimately his life. On December 1, 1943, Bonhoeffer wrote from prison to his young fiancee. Unable to prepare for Christmas in the ways he always had when he was free, he wrote:
“I think we’re going to have an exceptionally good Christmas. The very fact that every outward circumstance precludes our making provision for it will show whether we can be content with what is truly essential. I used to be very fond of thinking up and buying presents, but now that we have nothing to give, the gift God gave us in the birth of Christ will seem all the more glorious…” “The poorer the quarters, the more clearly we perceive that our hearts should be Christ’s home on earth.”
That certainly puts things in perspective in this year of 2020. In spite of his own unjust imprisonment, the loss of good friends to war, separation from those he loved and dealing with evil all around him, Bonhoeffer believes it would not just be an endurable Christmas, but an exceptional one. Let me encourage you to prepare for an exceptionally good Christmas, regardless of the circumstances, that you can welcome again Christ into your hearts.
“No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin
Where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in.”
Back during the series of tropical systems that seemingly, each week, approached the Gulf Coast, our daughter Beth, who lives in Bay Saint Louis, sent out the following text: “When people ask me where I live, I just say in the cone of uncertainty”! (If you watch Jim Cantore and the Weather Channel, you can visualize where she is.) Her text was a lighthearted way of viewing life, not knowing when, where, and at what strength the storms would strike. The year 2020, the year of Covid-19, has become like that for many. All of the things we take for granted, even the traditions of Thanksgiving, family gatherings, and trips to share this time with loved ones, are uncertain, if not risky. We are uncertain about what will happen next.
In Philippians, Paul writes to the church, a group whose security and very existence are threatened. In the face of their uncertainty he says in Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Of that, we can be certain—with thanksgiving to God—in all things.
|Starkville Presbyterian Church PC(USA) Starkville, MS||