Thomas Kemper’s Mission Musings for Advent

Thomas Kemper is the General Secretary for Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church- See more at:

He regularly writes an essay–Mission Musings–and I particularly am moved by his Advent message this year.

You may see the full message here:

Here are some paragraphs that particularly speak to me:

Becoming “Kairos” in Times of Suffering

By Thomas Kemper*

It is hard to share the joyful Christmas message in a world of so much suffering and uncertainty, yet in this time of year we so clearly know the need for the rebirth of Christ, a birth to respond to the needs of this world.

Recently, 145 students and teachers were gunned down at a school in Pakistan. Thousands of persons of all ages are sick and dying from Ebola in West Africa.  The United States is weighed down by an epidemic of the killing of unarmed black males by white police officers.


In the midst of the heaviness weighing on God’s world, I find words of promise and assurance in the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, especially his Letters and Papers from Prison.  As is well-known, Bonhoeffer was a Christian pastor and activist who spoke out against the Nazi regime. At the time, many of his friends were concerned he would be imprisoned; they wanted him to play it safe in order to help rebuild the church after the war. He accepted refuge in New York City, living just a few hundred feet from where my office is located.  But he could not isolate himself from what was happening to the people of his homeland. In the Daily Moravian Watchword he read, “The one who believes, does not flee.” After a few weeks in the US, Bonhoeffer returned in 1939 to Germany, where he would eventually be jailed and finally hanged for his anti-Nazi work.

From prison, Bonhoeffer wrote, “Life in a prison cell may well be compared to Advent . . . one waits, hopes, and does this, that, or the other – things that are really of no consequence – the door is shut, and can only be opened from the outside.”


As we listen and journey together in community, the Child is born again. Listen once more to Bonhoeffer:

But now it is true that in three days,

Christmas will come again.

The great transformation will once again happen.

God would have it so.

Out of the waiting, hoping, longing world,

A world will come in which the promise is given.

All crying will be stilled. No tears shall flow.

No lonely sorrow shall afflict us anymore.

– See more at:


About Tom Bolton

I'm a Husband and Dad, an Enterprise Systems Manager at the City of Milwaukee, and a Disciple and Lay Servant at First United Methodist of West Allis. I love working beside young people. As I study the Bible, sometimes I feel moved to work through my understanding by writing poetry. I also am going through a process to discern my calling, and to learn more about Christian Leadership. Sometimes I just feel like writing about something that grabs my attention too.
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