Luther’s Christmas Sermons: Nativity and Shepherds, pt.2

This evening we are gathering to discuss Martin Luther’s sermons on the Nativity and on the Shepherds from his Christmas Book.  Luther begins his sermon on the Shepherds with a discussion about a person’s calling or vocation (from the Latin vocare “to call”).  In the late Medieval period, the Roman Church taught that the only divine calling was to ordained ministry.  Priests and monks had a calling, and, based on 1 Corinthians 7:1, a calling to a celibate life.  Marriage and secular occupations were not properly considered a vocation or calling. This understanding necessarily meant that since God only called certain men to the ordained ministry, only those in the ordained ministry had access to God. Luther, however, saw that all of God’s people had distinct callings from God.  If God called someone to be a husband or a mother or a shoemaker or even a lowly shepherd, then each of these endeavors is likewise blessed by God and each person likewise has access to God.  A good discussion of Luther’s understanding of vocation is HERE.

Also, as you read through the sermon on the Shepherds, see how Luther speaks of the Shepherd’s faith. The great miracle for Luther is not the appearance of the angels, but the faith of the Shepherds in the message told by the angels.  The fruit of this faith is two-fold. First, the shepherds followed the word of the angel and went to Bethlehem.  Second, the shepherds became apostles themselves and told everyone what they knew. But, being true to their vocation, they did not “shave their heads, fast, pray their rosaries, and put on cowls” but simply returned to work as shepherds.  For Luther, the actions of the Shepherds provide an example of our life as well – be moved by the word of God, tell others, but continue in your daily life and work which is your vocation.  

Please remember that there is an evening prayer service this Wednesday at St. Phillips at 7:00pm.

Dinner is at 6. The menu is caldo gallego (Galician white bean soup). Discussion about 6:45. Hope to see you here, and please bring a friend.

For you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2:9

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