A Bonhoeffer Advent Reflection: “In the face of the manger”

We shall celebrate Christmas and now for once let us make it really a festival of Christ in the world. Then we must prepare ourselves by getting rid of something which plays a great role in our lives. We must be clear about how, in the face of the manger, we shall think about what is high and what is low in human life in the future. Of course, we are not all powerful, even if we wish we were and we reluctantly admit it. Only a few are really powerful. But there are many more with little power, who when they can, exert what power they have, and live with one thought: that they might have greater power! God’s thoughts are opposite. He desires to be even lower, in humble state, unnoticed, in self-forgetfulness, in insignificance, in worthlessness, not wishing to be high. And it is on this road that we meet with God himself. Everyone of us lives side by side with some whom we call great, and some who we call low. Everyone of us has someone who is below us. Is it possible that this Christmas we could rethink this radical point, learning and knowing that our way, insofar as it is the way of God, leads us not to hight and might, but really into the depths, to the humble and poor? And that every way of life, which is a way up higher must end in disaster? Who of us would want to celebrate Christmas correctly? Who will finally lay at the manger all power, all honor, all reputation, all vanity, all pride, and all selfishness? Who is content to be lowly and to let God alone be hight? Who sees the glory of God in the humble state of the child in the manger? (DBW 14:593-94)

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