Martin Luther was adept at articulating timeless truths in creative and memorable and sometimes even jarring ways. Don’t take that as an endorsement of everything Luther said, though. His creativity and enthusiasm would have been better kept in check at times, but–that’s just part of what made him such a colorful character, and so much fun to read.
And reading is what this post is about. I’m always on the lookout for good books to read during Advent. I want to tell you about one I bought a couple of years ago.
Roland Bainton, who’s best know as the author of Here I Stand – A Life Of Martin Luther, is also the editor of a collection of Christmas meditations entitled Martin Luther’s Christmas Book. It contains excerpts from his sermons, “reconstructed by way of condensation, transposition, and paraphrase,” and organized around eight different themes: Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity, Shepherds, Herod, Wise Men, Presentation, and From Heaven High.
Luther never ceased marvelling at the staggering implications of the Incarnation. If I have time next week (don’t hold your breath), I’ll post a few quotes from this Christmas Book. In the mean time, here’s an excerpt from Bainton’s Introduction:
The condescension of God was the great wonder. This it is that reason cannot fathom. What man, if guided by his natural promptings, would do so much for another? Why should God humble himself to lie in the feedbox of a donkey and to hang upon a cross? The manger and the cross are never far apart for Luther. The birth was more than a lovely idyl. It took place in squalor and under the shadow of terror. Bethlehem presaged Calvary. Confronted by the self-emptying of God, modern man stands on no other ground than that of Luther. For neither can faith be easy. For neither need it be impossible. That Luther, feeling as acutely as we all the difficulties, could yet believe–that may help our unbelief.
Spend Advent reflecting on the Incarnation with Martin Luther.