"There are only two places where the powerful and great in this world lose their courage, tremble in the depths of their souls, and become truly afraid. These are the manger and the cross of Jesus Christ."
"No priest, no theologian stood at the cradle of Bethlehem. And yet, all Christian theology finds its beginnings in the miracle of miracles, that God became human."
These stirring words are among forty devotions that guide and inspire readers as they move thematically through the weeks of Advent and Christmas, from waiting and mystery to redemption, incarnation, and joy. Supplemented by an informative introduction, short excerpts from Bonhoeffer's letters, and passages from his Christmas sermons, these daily devotions are timeless and moving reminders of the true gift of Christmas.
- Get a Head Start on the Holidays
Another addition to my holiday reading is this Advent-themed devotional by the young theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, some of which was written just weeks before his execution by Nazi hands. The book is designed for daily reading during the Advent season, which can last as long as forty days surrounding Christmas, ending at the Feast of Epiphany on January 6. The format of God is in the Manger is clean and simple, being broken down into four weeks prior to Christmas and then then Twelve Days of Christmas following. Each day contains three distinct portions: a searching passage by Bonhoeffer about that day's passage and theme, an excerpt that adds to this theme (either from Bonhoeffer's own writings or from the writings of contemporary theologians I've never heard of), and the Scriptural passage of choice in its fuller context.
I must admit that my own fundamentalist background has no relationship with Advent. I understand the theoretical reasons for why some in the fundamentalist tradition refuse to make some days more holy than others, but the idealism to make all days holy rarely works. In fact, this "all days are to be holy" idea simply leaves us with "no days are holy" and the "pagan indifference" Bonhoeffer references on Christmas Day. As the great theologian, Pixar, quips in his volume The Incredibles, "If everyone's special, then no one is special." Since Christmas to many Baptists and whatnot becomes simply a single-day holiday where we read a passage or two from the Bible in between opportunities of gorging ourselves on delicious foods, the opportunity to lend the Lord's birth the awe and reverence it deserves doesn't sound like such a bad idea.
The more I mature, honestly, the more spiritually immature I feel. In fact, Bonhoeffer acknowledges as much himself on January 3 ("A necessary daily exercise") when he writes:
Why is it that my thoughts wander so quickly from God's Word and that in my hour of need, the needed Word is often not there? Do I forget to eat and drink and sleep? Then why do I forget God's Word? Because I still can't say what the Psalmist says, "I will delight in your statutes." (Psalm 119:16) I don't forget the things in which I take delight. Forgetting or not forgetting is a matter not of the mind, but of the whole person. Of the heart. I never forget what body and soul depend upon. The more I begin to love the commandments of God in creation and Word, the more present they will be for me in every hour. Only love protects against forgetting.
This powerful reminder is the very essence of what the honest child of God seeks in celebrating The Advent or Lent or whatever other process man has created in order to assist in bringing us closer to our God. It's for this very reason I'd like to shirk fundamentalist arrogance in this case and celebrate these events in my own private time.
Throughout these devotionals, Bonhoeffer seeks to emphasize our humanity, Christ's deity, and---most importantly for this season---His humanity as well. One particular illustration emphasizes the key perspectives he brings to one's devotional time, here in the form of a prayer recorded for Week Three, Day Two ("Taking on Guilt"):
Lord Jesus, come Yourself and dwell with us. Be human as we are and overcome what overwhelms us. Come in the midst of my evil. Come close to my unfaithfulness. Share my sin, which I hate and which I cannot leave. Be my Brother, Thou Holy God. Be my Brother in the kingdom of evil and suffering and death.
If during this holiday season or the next you notice your pastor struggling to find some new or profound way to teach about Christmas, consider the fact that he might view Christmas as simply a holiday and something he has to mention, simply because it's expected. Rather than telling him he needs to celebrate Advent, consider gifting him this book around Thanksgiving time for his own private devotional time. Pray that he'd treat Christmas as more than just "Jesus' birthday" or as simply a day we set aside each year to remember Christ's humanity. Pray that he would envelop himself in the power of what occurred when God became Man for us. Likewise, gift this book to yourself for next year. What a fantastic way to appreciate Christmas the way we ought!
- Perfect for anytime,
We listened to this audio book God is in the Manger, as part of Our morning spiritual studies. And it just happened that we received this invitation to listen to this audiobook at the time of Christmas 2012. We enjoyed the thoughts it brought to our minds, and will want to listen again, anytime.
- Great devotional for Christmas
God in the Manger by Dietrich Bonhoeffer was narrated by Arthur Morey who did a very good job. This is an outstanding devotional book for reading during the Christmas season when we need our thoughts to be on the real meaning of Christmas. While I did enjoy the audio book I feel that I would have gotten even more from the devotionals if I had been reading a printed book rather than listening to the audio book. Since the book is made up of excerpts from sermons, letters, and other writings, I found it somewhat hard to follow as it was being read.
I would recommend this book but in printed form rather than audio.
I received this audiobook free from christianaudio Reviewers Program in exchange for posting a honest review.
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- Insightful and Deep Reflections for Advent
I've listened to the first three weeks of these devotionals; they've helped me to pause and reflect on the depths of what God has done in sending his Son. Besides Bonhoeffer, the words of other great authors like Brennan Manning and Eugene Peterson are heard. If you've felt rushed this Christmas, I highly recommend this audio book.
very deep thought from a past saint on the incarnation of the Son if God and the cost of our redemption.
- Heart preperation for busy people...
God Is In The Manger- This FREE audiobook is loaded with scriptural truth and reflections on the Advent Season. It was written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Much of it was written while he was being held in a Nazi prison prior to his execution. The depth of Bonhoeffer's understanding of the condition of the human heart and our need for the good news of Jesus Christ is unparalleled. Heart preperation for busy people and the joy of knowing God in The Manger! I will be listening to this more than once.
This audiobook is perfect for the Advent/Christmas/Epiphany season. The narrator has a nice reading voice that is easy to listen to. The brief devotionals are just right for starting the day and giving something to think about as we prepare for the holidays.
- Good Christmas devotional
While this recording of God in the Manger is well done and the content is very good, I think I would recommend the printed book more highly. I don't find that devotionals work very well in audio format since most listeners will not focus the same way as readers and because they will not listen to one reading and then meditate on it, but will instead simply listen to the next reading and the next. The book has much to commend it as a series of meditations for Advent and the twelve days of Christmas that came from letters, sermons, and other writings of Bonhoeffer and a few modern writers.
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