It still being Christmas–there are twelve days of it, remember–we can still contemplate the inexhaustible topic of God’s incarnation. After the jump, read an excerpt from one of Luther’s Christmas sermons, which our pastor quoted in his Christmas Eve message. The passage deals both with Christmas and vocation–that is, our calling to love and serve our neighbors in our various tasks and relationships.
To those who think that they would have shown kindness to the Christ child and His parents, unlike the residents of Bethlehem, Luther says, “Why don’t you do it now” by showing kindness to other needy children and their parents?
“What you do to your neighbor in need you do to the Lord Christ himself.”
Martin Luther, Sermon on the Nativity, quoted in Paul Maier, How Martin Luther Preached about Christmas | Christian History, from Roland Bainton, Here I Stand, pp. 276-277.:
The inn was full. No one would release a room to this pregnant woman. She had to go to a cow stall and there bring forth the Maker of all creatures because nobody would give way. Shame on you, wretched Bethlehem! The inn ought to have been burned with brimstone, for even though Mary had been a beggar maid or unwed, anybody at such a time would have been glad to give her a hand. There are many of you in this congregation who think to yourselves: “If only I had been there! How quick I would have been to help the baby! I would have washed his linen! How happy I would have been to go with the shepherds to see the Lord lying in the manger!” Yes you would! You say that because you know how great Christ is, but if you had been there at that time you would have done no better than the people of Bethlehem. Childish and silly thoughts are these! Why don’t you do it now? You have Christ in your neighbor. You ought to serve him, for what you do to your neighbor in need you do to the Lord Christ himself.
HT: Rev. Ned Moerbe
Image by Christian Krohg, “Mother and Child,” 1883 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons