The following is from a letter written by Martin Neimöller, a Lutheran pastor, who was first thrown in the Moabit Prison in 1937 for his resistance of the Nazi party’s intrusion into the life of the church. Neimöller so inflamed Hitler that when he was released from prison 8 months later, he became Hitler’s personal prisoner and was kept in two concentration camps, Sachsenhousen and Dachau, until the end of World War II.
What interests me is that the act of suffering caused Neimöller rediscover the act of prayer, not as an act of rebellion, but as an element of hope and joy. He rediscovered that we must pray for the coming of the Lord.
If you do not remember Martin Neimöller, perhaps you remember his famous poem:
First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
December 11, 1937
To an Unknown Person
We are becoming a praying church again. And when one sees that, one no longer asks at the sight of locks and bars; why? How should we otherwise be able to serve our people to whom we have been sent, unless we first learn to pray again for the coming of the Lord! The clearer this becomes to me, the more the psychological pressure and my moderate state of health during these first few months have given away to a happy and grateful confidence. Advent yes, he is coming! Christmas yes, we have great joy of hearing and saying: “A year of grace is nearing its end, a year of grace is intended once again.” We should all be glad of this . . .!