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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Pointing the way

In Luther's vision, Mary is a path to God

The story of the Nativity was, for Martin Luther, also a story about Mary. When he preached about Christmas, he sought to correct centuries of impressions that led people to see Christ as one to be feared—but his mother ready to embrace them.

Luther described Jesus’ birth in plain language: the dirtiness of the inn, the lack of help in delivering the baby, the cold manger without warm water to comfort and wash. “I am amazed that the little one did not freeze,” he reflected. And then he offered a meditation on the meaning of the Nativity as a glimpse into Christ’s graciousness.

'“Behold Christ lying in the lap of his young mother. What can be sweeter than the Babe, what more lovely than the mother! ... Yet all that is belongs to him, that your conscience should not fear but take comfort in him. Doubt nothing. To me there is no greater consolation given to mankind than this, that Christ became man, a child, a babe, playing in the lap and at the breasts of his most gracious mother. Who is there whom this sight would not comfort? Now is overcome the power of sin, death, hell, conscience, and guilt, if you come to this gurgling Babe and believe that he is come, not to judge you, but to save” (Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther; Abingdon, 1950; available from www.cokesbury.com).


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