An Advent Sermon from Bonhoeffer

Today’s reading from God is in the Manger includes the following, from an Advent sermon preached by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in London on December 3, 1933. In it, he reflects on the meaning of Advent from the point of view of the horror of a mining disaster.

You know what a mine disaster is. In recent weeks we have had to read about one in the newspapers.

The moment even the most courageous miner has dreaded his whole life long is here. It is no use running into the walls; the silence all around him remains…. The way out for him is blocked. He knows the people up there are working feverishly to reach the miners who are buried alive. Perhaps someone will be rescued, but here in the last shaft? An agonizing period of waiting and dying is all that remains.

But suddenly a noise that sounds like tapping and breking in the rock can be heard. Unexpectedly, voices cry out, ‘Where are you, help is on the way!’ Then the disheartened miner picks himself up, his heart leaps, he shouts, ‘Here I am, come on through and help me! I’ll hold out until you come! Just come soon!’ A final, desperate hammer blow to his ear, now the rescue is near, just one more step and he is free.

We have spoken of Advent itself. That is how it is with the coming of Christ: ‘Look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’

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