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Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Those Who Go to the Manger Will be Transformed.”

26 December 2010
“If God chooses Mary as his instrument,
if God himself wants to come into this world
in the manger at Bethlehem,
that is no idyllic family affair,
but the beginning of a complete turnaround,
a reordering of everything on this earth.
If we wish to take part in this Advent and Christmas event,
then we cannot simply be bystanders or onlookers,
as if we were at the theater, enjoying all the cheerful images.
No, we ourselves are swept into the action there,
into the conversion of all things.
We have to play our part too on this stage,
for the spectator is already an actor.
We cannot withdraw.

What part, then, do we play?
Pious shepherds, on bended knee?
Kings who come bearing gifts?
What sort of play is this, where Mary becomes the mother of God?
Where God enters the world in the lowliness of the manger?
The judgment of the world and its redemption—
that is taking place here.
And the Christ child in the manger is himself the one
who pronounces the judgment and the redemption of the world.
He repels the great and the powerful.
He puts down the mighty from their thrones,
he humbles the arrogant,
his arm overpowers all the proud and the strong,
he raises what is lowly and makes it great and splendid
in his compassion.
Therefore we approach his manger
not as if it were the cradle of any other child.
Those who wish to come to his manger
find that something is happening within them.”

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Those Who Go to the Manger Will be Transformed.”

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