Daily Devotion - Tuesday, December 1, 2015
This is the first week of the season of Advent. Throughout the season of Advent we'll be focusing on what it means to be full of expectation and anticipation during this blessed time of year. We'll also be lifting up the various weekly themes of Advent, corresponding to the lighting of the candles on the Advent wreath. This week our theme is "Hope."
“A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes…and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1943
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor, author and theologian who was imprisoned and eventually executed by the Nazis, had intimate knowledge of what it meant to struggle to have hope. As he sat in prison, awaiting his fate, Bonhoeffer wrote almost constantly, pouring out his heart and soul on life, faith, the Church, Christian discipleship, and so much more.
The above quote speaks volumes of Bonhoeffer's deep, abiding faith in God's sovereignty--God's will over his circumstances, and God's love for a lost and broken world. Even as he faced death, Bonhoeffer never lost hope, never wavered in his faith that God's perfect will would ultimately be done.
Today, we are still a world at war. The way forward does seem daunting--a bit like we need to have the prison doors flung open. The news this week is filled once again with stories of violence and bloodshed, greed and hatred. It is easy to lose heart.
Even in my own life, I face struggles and hardship, as I am sure so many of you who are reading this are as well. It is easy to lose sight of what the Apostle Paul called "the blessed hope" that God is still in charge, Jesus is alive, well and redeeming the world and the Holy Spirit is moving among us, transforming and making all things new.
I am reminded of the words from that great Advent hymn that my family and I sing every night during this blessed season. "O Come, O Come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel, who mourns in lowly exile here until the Son of God appears..."
I can't fix all of the problems of the world. Who am I kidding? I can't even fix my own problems. I have to do my part, to be sure. I can't simply throw my hands into the air, and retreat to my little corner of the cell and curse the darkness. But I do need to acknowledge that in order for all the brokenness to be healed, for the lost to be found, for the world to find peace---it's going to take Divine intervention.
Which is why we wait, we hope, we trust, and we sing our songs of expectation. We look forward with the "blessed hope" that our Lord Jesus Christ is going to fling wide the locked doors of our hearts, and of this world.
May you be filled with this blessed hope today and every day. May you find the strength to trust that all of the prison doors in your life and in this world will one day burst open to freedom. May you live into that hope expectantly, with longing and with great excitement.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.