Dietrich Bonhoeffer, particularly later in his life, had little to rejoice about on Christmas. He was living under the authority of one of the most evil, unjust, racist regimes since the beginning of time. How was any German citizen to interpret the “good tidings of great joy” which had supposedly arrived with the birth of Christ? Yet, Bonhoeffer saw Christmas in the opposite light: not a confusing contradiction in a word of evil but encouragement for those living under oppression. He wrote, in his reflections on Christmas in ‘God Is In the Manger’
For the great and powerful of this world, there are only two places in which their courage fails them, of which they are afraid deep down in their souls, from which they shy away. These are the manger and the cross of Jesus Christ. No powerful person dares to approach the manger, and this even includes King Herod. For this is where thrones shake, the mighty fall, the prominent perish, because God is with the lowly. Here the rich come to nothing, because God is with the poor and hungry, but the rich and satisfied he sends away empty. Before Mary, the maid, before the manger of Christ, before God in lowliness, the powerful come to naught; they have no right, no hope; they are judged.