Posted by: HAT | November 30, 2014

First Sunday in Advent

An image of the pipe used to deliver supplies to trapped miners, Copiapo, Chile, 2010

There are times when mine disasters have almost miraculously good outcomes.

Hi, Gang!

For many years now, whenever Advent rolls around, I think of a sermon preached by Dietrich Bonhoeffer on December 3, 1933 (also the First Sunday of Advent), titled “Come, O Rescuer.” Its opening has provided the image that has dominated my relationship to Advent since I read it in Seminary. Here it is:

You know what a mine disaster is. In recent weeks we have had to read about one in the newspapers.

The moment even the most courageous miner has dreaded his whole life long is here. It is no use running into the walls, the silence all around him remains. He knows people are crowding together on the surface; but the way out for him is blocked. He knows the people up there are working feverishly to reach the miners who are buried alive. Perhaps someone will be rescued, but here in the last shaft? An agonizing period of waiting and dying is all that remains.

But suddenly a noise that sounds like tapping and breaking in the rock can be heard. Unexpectedly, voices cry out, ‘Where are you, help is on the way!’ Then, the disheartened miner picks himself up, his heart leaps, he shouts, ‘Here I am, come on through and help me! I’ll hold out until you come! Just come soon!’ A final, desperate hammer blow to his ear, now the rescue is near, just one more step and he is free.

We have spoken of Advent itself. That is how it is with the coming of Christ. ‘Look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’ [1]

The full text of “Come, O Rescuer,” and a collection of other sermons, is online at Project Muse.

[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Come, O Rescuer,” in A Testament to Freedom: The Essential Writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Revised Edition, Edited by Geffrey B. Kelly and F. Burton Nelson (San Francisco: Harper SanFrancisco, 1995), 223-226, 223.

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