About This Blog

Sunday, December 16, 2012

"God in the Manger" (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

TITLE: God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas
AUTHOR: Dietrich Bonhoeffer
PUBLISHER: Lousville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2012, (112 pages).

This book is a compilation of Advent reflections by the famed martyr and German pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The writings reflect very much the conviction of Bonhoeffer, where faith triumphs over religiosity, and fear of God must be above fear of man. In our weakness, God's strength is revealed even more. Four themes hold together this devotional over the four weeks of the Advent. The first theme is WAITING, where the Christian is urged to cultivate an attitude of waiting, waiting for the new heaven and new earth; waiting as a necessary struggle against impatience, waiting that is bearable, and waiting for God, even in silence. The second theme is that of MYSTERY. It urges us to retain a respect for things yet to be revealed, things that cannot be calculated or exploited. Things like the mystery of love. Cultivate wonder. Reflect on how greatly man has sinned. Think of the glory and power of the baby Jesus. Imagine how unfathomable are the mysteries of God. The third theme is on REDEMPTION. It describes how Jesus comes to earth to take our guilt, carry our sins, and suffer the judgment that we deserve, giving us a salvation that we do not deserve.  The fourth theme is INCARNATION which reflects on God whose Son Jesus gives up divine comfort to dwell in humble human inconveniences. How in Christ, we can become divine beings, because God first loved us. The last chapter represents 12 days of Christmas and Epiphany. Often, we have Advent series that tend to end at Christmas. In this book, the publisher goes farther, to help us maintain a focus on Christ, how mercy and peace, humility and joy, salvation and faith, prepares us to welcome in the secular New Year, with bright anticipation of God's work that is to come.

My Thoughts

Unlike Bonhoeffer's other books that tend to be heavier reading, this Advent devotional is relatively lighter. Still, it contains lots of scriptural references. There are references also to modern authors which are recent additions. Thus, this book is not exactly composed by Bonhoeffer himself at the onset, but compiled by the publisher, from the huge archives of Bonhoeffer's writings, sermons, speeches, and other sources.  Bonhoeffer does not mince his words. Like Karl Barth, he is very Christo-centric. Like Eugene Peterson, his writings marry spirituality with everyday life. Like a faithful disciple, even in the midst of a holiday period, Bonhoeffer's faith and theology does not take a holiday. There is no time for leisure and pleasure in the things of this world. We are very much in a war. Bonhoeffer lives and breathes the air of WWII, and the turbulent fight against the Nazi regime and the liberal Church. We too live and breath the air of postmodernism, and continue the spiritual warfare against materialism, individualism, consumerism, and boastful secularism.

This Christmas, remember the Christ child. Remember the purpose of Christmas. Remember the reason for the season. There is no greater way to celebrate Christmas by remembering the Christ who humbles Himself, takes up His cross, and follow after God's will. Fully. Obediently. Completely. The good news is this. Greater things we too can do. Christmas is that time, that we refresh our faith in Christ, that we recharge our hope for the coming Kingdom of God, and we renew our commitment, to be the people we have been called to be.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Westminster John Knox Press and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

No comments:

Post a Comment