Tonight we are gathering to begin our Advent readings of Martin Luther’s Christmas Book. As you read through the Annunciation and the Visitation, pay attention to how Luther emphasizes the role that faith and humility have in the Nativity story. As Luther (quoting Bernard of Clairvaux) points out, the true miracle of the Nativity is not that a virgin bears a child (for that is a mere trifle), nor that God became man (which is somewhat miraculous), but the true miracle is that Mary believes the angel. The faith of Mary is the real miracle in the story. Luther also points out the great faith of Joseph. Under the law, Joseph was permitted to have Mary stoned (Deut. 22:20-24), but he had faith in the angel’s words. And by that faith, he took Mary as his wife.
The second great theme of these sermons for Luther is humility. Mary, of course, is the epitome of humility. But we see Mary’s humility carry through the entire story. Mary is not only humble at the Annunciation, but she continues in her humility in her Visitation with Elizabeth. The great blessing that God bestowed upon her does not change her character. The other great example of humility in the story is the angel Gabriel. As Luther writes, Gabriel was a mighty prince of heaven who did not resent being used as a mere errand boy to carry a message to a lowly peasant. In the angel, we see the outworking of true humility.
Please join us tonight. Even if you didn’t read the sermons we all know the stories. Dinner is at 6. The menu is spinach salad bar. We’ll begin our discussion at about 6:45 and end with Compline before 8. We hope to see you here and please bring a friend.
What good does it do me if Christ was born in Bethlehem once if he is not born again in my heart through faith?Origen of Alexandria