Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor arrested by the Nazis for his resistance to their cruel regime. During his imprisonment he continued his work as a pastor among his fellow prisoners.
He also wrote extensively, creating classics of theology and devotion. Ultimately he was tried for conspiracy to assassinate Hitler and hanged on April 9, 1945, just two weeks before American forces liberated his camp.
For this year’s Christmas poem I have chosen a passage written by Pastor Bonheoffer while he was in prison. It is from book entitled Resistance and Surrender. It seems particularly relevant this year.
Faithfully and quietly surrounded by benevolent powers,
wonderfully guarded and consoled,
—thus will I live this day with you
and go forth with you another year.
Still the past torments our hearts
Still, heavy burdens of bad times depress us,
Ah, Lord, give our startled souls
the grace for which we were created.
And if you pass to us the heavy, the bitter
cup of pain, filled to the brim,
we will accept it, grateful, without trembling
from your good and beloved hand.
But if you wish us to rejoice once more
in this world and the brilliance of its sun,
then the past, too, we will remember
and so our entire life will belong to you.
With warmth and light let flame today the candles
that you have brought into our darkness.
If it can be, bring us together once again!
We know your light is shining in the night.
When the silence spreads around us deeply,
let us hear that full sound of the world
stretching out invisibly around us;
let us hear your children’s praising song.
Warmly protected by benevolent powers,
with confidence we wait for what may come.
God is with us at evening and at morning
and most certainly at each new day.