The key to the prison

From Desiring God:

Dietrich Bonhoeffer awoke December 25, 1943 on a hard wooden bed. It was the first of two Christmases he would spend sequestered in a Nazi prison…

In the Tegel prison, Bonhoeffer and his 700 fellow inmates were treated as criminals irrespective of trials and verdicts. The men were underfed and verbally harassed, and frequently the warden refused to turn the lights on, adding to the dark and depressive spirit of the place. Bonhoeffer was assigned to a cell surrounded by prisoners awaiting execution. He writes about often being kept awake at night by the clanking chains of the cots as the unsettled, condemned men tossed and turned.

But it was within this suffocating suffering that Christmas seemed to take a deeper meaning for the 37-year-old pastor-scholar. “A prison cell like this is a good analogy for Advent,” he wrote to a friend. “One waits, hopes, does this or that — ultimately negligible things — the door is locked and can only be opened from the outside.”  (emphasis added)

It’s easy to coo over newborns, and sometimes our worship at Christmas is colored by this response to babies.  But we need to remember this was no mere arrival of an infant.  It was a rescue mission.  In Revelation, He tells John:

“Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. ” (emphasis added)

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A blessed Christmas to all!

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