cover Mystery of Holy Night

At Rise: As the last strains of the song fade, the stage lights dim and eventually go dark as the sound of soldiers marching starts out faintly over the loudspeakers and the marching gradually increases in volume, as if coming closer in the darkness until it gets loud. The marching sound stops and a prison door opening and closing loudly is heard in the darkness. The soldier marching sound starts up again and quickly fades. BONHOEFFER strikes a match and lights a candle as the lights come up in his prison cell stage left. BONHOEFFER finds his seat at a small desk. He picks up a pen and begins writing on a piece of paper. His voice is heard over the loudspeakers as he writes:

I don’t have to tell you how greatly I long for freedom, and for all of you. For decades you have given us such incomparably beautiful Christmases that my grateful memory of them is strong enough to outshine even this rather dark one I am now spending in a prison cell. It is times like these that show what it really means to have a past and an inner legacy independent of the change of times and conditions. The awareness of being borne up by a spiritual tradition that lasts for decades gives one a strong sense of security in the face of all transitory distress. . .

(BONHOEFFER’S voice trails off. He puts down his pen and looks out into the audience. He stands, and comes around his desk. He relaxes and leans back on the desk while addressing the audience.)

From the Christian point of view, spending Christmas in a prison cell doesn’t pose any special problems. Most likely, a more meaningful and authentic Christmas is celebrated in these dark confines than in other places where only the name of Christmas remains. Misery, pain, poverty, loneliness, helplessness; the judgment of men on other men. God turns toward those very places and those very things that many of us tend to turn away from.

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