Sunday, 6 December 2015
Waiting in Advent 2015
with Dietrich Bonhoeffer (8)
This is the Second Sunday of Advent this morning [6 December 2015]. Some of us today may recall Saint Nicholas of Myra, whose feastday falls on 6 December, and who provides the inspiration for the Santa Claus story.
However, the Gospel reading this morning (Luke 3: 1-6) looks at the story of Saint John the Baptist and compares him with the Prophet Isaiah calling out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”
Throughout Advent, as we wait and prepare for Christmas, I invite you to join me each morning for a few, brief moments in reflecting on the meaning of Advent through the words of the great German theologian and martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945). This is my own Advent Calendar for this year.
Bonhoeffer once wrote:
“God travels wonderful ways with human beings, but he does not comply with the views and opinions of people. God does not go the way that people want to prescribe for him; rather, his way is beyond all comprehension, free and self-determined beyond all proof. Where reason is indignant, where our nature rebels, where our piety anxiously keeps us away: that is precisely where God loves to be. There he confounds the reason of the reasonable; there he aggravates our nature, our piety — that is where he wants to be, and no one can keep him from it.
“Only the humble believe him and rejoice that God is so free and so marvellous that he does wonders where people despair, that he takes what is little and lowly and makes it marvellous. And that is the wonder of all wonders, that God loves the lowly ...
“God is not ashamed of the lowliness of human beings. God marches right in. He chooses people as his instruments and performs his wonders where one would least expect them. God is near to lowliness; he loves the lost, the neglected, the unseemly, the excluded, the weak and broken.”
Readings (Revised Common Lectionary): Baruch 5: 1-9 or Malachi 3: 1-4; Canticle Benedictus; Philippians 1: 3-11; Luke 3: 1-6.
Church of Saint Nicholas of Myra in Dublin ... the interior is neoclassical in style and is strikingly beautiful, brightly painted and decorated (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)
The Collect of the Second Sunday of Advent:
Father in heaven,
who sent your Son to redeem the world
and will send him again to be our judge:
Give us grace so to imitate him
in the humility and purity of his first coming
that when he comes again,
we may be ready to greet him with joyful love and firm faith;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Post Communion Prayer:
here you have nourished us with the food of life.
Through our sharing in this holy sacrament
teach us to judge wisely earthly things
and to yearn for things heavenly.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.