23 December 2015

Waiting in Advent 2015 with
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (25)

‘It is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith’ … the mouth of the River Slaney at Ferrycarrig, Co Wexford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

There are just two more days to go to Christmas this morning [23 December 2015], and tomorrow is last day of Advent. During the season of Advent this year, I have been working my way through my own Advent Calendar. Each morning, I am inviting you to join me for a few, brief moments in reflecting on the meaning of Advent through the words and meditations of the great German theologian and martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945).

Earlier this year, the Community of the Resurrection in Mirfield organised a two-day conference, ‘Bonhoeffer and Mirfield: Learning Wisdom for the Church Today.’ The conference in September marked the 80th anniversary of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s visit to Mirfield and explored themes central to Bonhoeffer’s life and work and their enduring significance for the Church of today.

Bonhoeffer visited Mirfield in 1935, shortly before he returned to Germany to lead the Confessing Church seminary at Finkenwalde. The pattern of monastic life and prayer he experienced at Mirfield made a deep impression on him and helped to shape life at Finkenwalde over the next two years. For example, as a result of this visit, he introduced the recitation of parts of Psalm 119 as part of the daily prayer life in Finkenwalde, and the visit also inspired him to write Life Together (Gemeinsames Leben).

The speakers at the Mirfield conference included the Revd Dr Keith Clements formerly of the Bristol Baptist College, Bishop Martin Lind of the Lutheran Church of Great Britain, Dr Nicola Wilkes of Cambridge University, and the Revd Dr Jennifer Moberley of Durham University.

The conference brochure quoted Bonhoeffer saying:

“I’m still discovering, right up to this moment, that it is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith. I mean living unreservedly in life’s duties, problems, successes and failures, experiences and perplexities. In so doing, we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God.”

Readings (Church of Ireland lectionary): Psalm 148; Baruch 4: 21-29 or Micah 4: 1-5, 5: 2-4; Galatians 3: 15-22.

The Collect of the Day:

God our redeemer,
who prepared the blessed Virgin Mary
to be the mother of your Son:
Grant that, as she looked for his coming as our saviour,
so we may be ready to greet him
when he comes again as our judge;
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

The Advent Collect:

Almighty God,
Give us grace to cast away the works of darkness
and to put on the armour of light
now in the time of this mortal life
in which your Son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility;
that on the last day
when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
to judge the living and the dead,
we may rise to the life immortal;
through him who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Yesterday’s reflection.

Continued tomorrow.

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