“The Advent season is a season of waiting, but our whole life is an Advent season, that is, a season of waiting for the last Advent, for the time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth … We can, and should also, celebrate Christmas despite the ruins around us … I think of you as you now sit together with the children and with all the Advent decorations — as in earlier years you did with us. We must do all this, even more intensively because we do not know how much longer we have.”
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letter to Bonhoeffer’s parents, Nov. 29, 1943, written from Tegel prison camp.
During Advent we are posting passages on Advent themes from writers of different backgrounds. These two passages are from the German Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was killed by the Nazis in 1945.
“Celebrating Advent means being able to wait. Waiting is an art that our impatient age has forgotten. It wants to break open the ripe fruit when it has hardly finished planting the shoot. But all too often the greedy eyes are only deceived; the fruit that seemed so precious is still green on the inside, and disrespectful hands ungratefully toss aside what has so disappointed them. Whoever does not know the austere blessedness of waiting—that is, of hopefully doing without—will never experience the full blessing of fulfilment. Those who do not know how it feels to struggle anxiously with the deepest questions of life, of their life, and to patiently look forward with anticipation until the truth is revealed, cannot even dream of the splendour of the moment in which clarity is illuminated for them…For the greatest, most profound, tenderest things in the world, we must wait. It happens not here in a storm but according to the divine laws of sprouting, growing, and becoming.”
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letter to fiancée Maria von Wedemeyer from prison, Dec. 13, 1943