Waiting. Anticipation. Mystery. Hope. Redemption. Incarnation .. the themes associated with the season of Advent, which has just begun. The sight of the Advent wreath in my church on Sunday inspired me to take a photo after service to share with all of you. I also wanted to include our stained glass windows, which are truly radiant. To accompany the photo, I’m posting some words from Dietrich Bonhoeffer – theologian, Lutheran pastor, martyr. This is a portion of his famous “Overcoming Fear” sermon which he delivered in January of 1933 when Hitler was just coming to power, and an ominous climate of fear was very much in the air. Bonhoeffer was executed by the Nazis on April 9th, 1945.
Fear is breathing down our necks … Those who would try to keep up their pride, as if all this had nothing to do with them, as if they didn’t understand what it’s all about, would hardly be human. No one human could fail to understand what the people of the world have to be afraid of today.
But look here, right in the middle of this fearful world is a place that is meant for all time, which has a peculiar task that the world doesn’t understand. It keeps calling over and over but always anew, in the same tone, the same thing: Fear is overcome; don’t be afraid. In the world you are frightened. But be comforted; I have conquered the world! Christ is in the boat! And this place, where this kind of talk is heard and should be heard, is the pulpit of the church. From this pulpit the living Christ himself wants to speak, so that wherever he reaches somebody, that person will feel the fear sinking away, will feel Christ overcoming his or her fear.