Lessons from the Shepherds on the Beginning of the Life of a Christian
On this Christmas Day we bring back into the present, the incarnation of our Lord, Jesus Christ. He was first greeted by the lowly shepherds who heard the Word of God proclaimed to them by angels. They heralded this birth an a majestic display of God’s glory in the deep of night, as the shepherds watched over their flocks on the cold Judean hillsides surrounding Bethlehem. Martin Luther wrote about the beginning of the Christian life that these humble, lowly shepherds exemplified in his Kirchepostils, Church Postils, written during his exile in the Wartburg Castle between 1521 and 1522. From them, we learn how God’s Word works on us, and then in and through us. There is power in the Word of God, as it goes forth and does its mighty work. It is this Word that produces fruit, and works signs and wonders. The text of the following sermon from Dr. Luther , The Early Sermon for Christmas Day on the Gospel of Luke 2:[15-20] is taken from Luther’s Works, Vol. 52: Sermons II, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann, Luther’s Works, 52:iii-40 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999, c1974).
THE GOSPEL FOR THE EARLY CHRISTMAS SERVICE, LUKE 2[:15–20]
This Gospel can be understood quite easily from the interpretation of the preceding one; for it contains an example and carrying out of the teaching which is contained in the previous lesson in that the shepherds did and found what the angels had told them. So the content of the present lesson deals with the consequences and fruits of the word of God and the signs by which we recognize whether the word of God is in us and has been effective.
The first and chief item is faith. If these shepherds had not believed the angel, they would not have gone to Bethlehem nor would they have done any of the things which are related of them in the shepherds. Continue Reading