This Advent sermon by Karl Barth, with its clarion call to challenge the growing power of Hitler, the Nazi party and the German Christian group, displays at the theological level the complex issues of faith, justice, protest and resistance that Barth, Bonhoeffer and others would demonstrate in the days to come. But it is all done in the language of preaching and exegesis of Scripture, and the message must be decoded and interpreted in the light of its context to see the radical nature of its confrontation with the incipient Third Reich. Below is the sermon in full with an introduction by John Michael Owen.
Prayer and reflection: As we sing the well-known Advent hymn we recognise how it has been used against the Jewish people over the centuries for foster anti-Judaism and antisemitism. As we prepare for the celebration of the birth of the Messiah may we also welcome all Israel and all Nations to enjoy God’s love and hospitality, without judgment based on ethnic pride or theological prejudice. In our Messiah’s name we pray. Amen.
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
Romans 15:5-13, December 10, 1933 (2nd Advent), University Service in the Schlosskirche, Bonn. Tr. J. M. Owen. Colloquium 36, no. 2 (2004): 172-180.
Reflection: Jewish-Christian relations and Advent hymns
I don’t understand how he can preach on the love of God and the mercy he bestows on us through Jesus, AND have a totally irrational aversion to the Jew/s. Or an allergy. That makes no sense to me. Wouldn’t any leader with a moral compass at that time have spoken out against the Nazis. Why is he hailed as a great theologian?