For this second Sunday in December we post an excerpt from a sermon of Martin Luther (1483-1546) found in the book Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas (ed. Nancy Guthrie; Crossway, 2008).
The title is “The Maiden Mary” and is based on Luke 1:26-33 (and is, in fact, adapted from Martin Luther’s Christmas Book, ed. by Roland Bainton, 1948). There are plenty of gems in this little meditation. Here are a few:
The angel greeted Mary and said, ‘Hail, Mary, full of grace.’ That is the Latin rendering, which unhappily has been taken over literally into German. Tell me, is this good German? Would any German say you are full of grace? I have translated it, ‘Thou gracious one,’ but if I were really to write German I would say, ‘God bless you, dear Mary – liebe Maria,’ for any German knows that this word liebe comes right from the heart.
…To this poor maiden marvelous things were announced: that she should be the mother of the All Highest, whose name should be the Son of God. He wold be a King and of his kingdom there would be no end. It took a mighty reach of faith to believe that this baby would play such a role. Well might Mary have said, ‘Who am I, little worm, that I should bear a King?’ She might have doubted, but she shut her eyes and trusted in God who could bring all things to pass, even though common sense were against it; and because she believed, God did to her as he had said.
…The virgin birth is a mere trifle for God; that God should become man is a greater miracle; but most amazing of all is that this maiden should credit the announcement that she, rather than some other virgin, had been chosen to be the mother of God. …Had she not believed, she could not have conceived. She held fast to the word of the angel because she had become a new creature. Even so must we be transformed and renewed in heart from day to day. Otherwise Christ is born in vain.
…Truly it is marvelous in our eyes that God should place a little child in the lap of a virgin and that all our blessedness should lie in him. And this Child belongs to all mankind. God feeds the whole world through a Babe nursing at Mary’s breast. This must be our daily exercise: to be transformed into Christ, being nourished by this food. Then will the heart be suffused with all joy and will be strong and confident against every assault (pp.25-27)