“Let us, then, meditate upon the Nativity just as we see it happening in our own babies. I would not have you contemplate the deity of Christ, the majesty of Christ, but rather his flesh. Look upon the Baby Jesus. Divinity may terrify man. Inexpressible majesty will crush him. That is why Christ took on our humanity, save for sin, that he should not terrify us but rather that with love and favor he should console and confirm.

“Frankly, any idea of planning our own lives is out. God can come suddenly, while we are planning, and speak his true word about our life. We can be fairly certain when we are dealing with other people, but no one can be sure when dealing with the living God. Then human glory is silenced. Then palaces and thrones fall. Then one stands face to face with his creator and judge, who has come to him by night. Did he find him sleeping or watching? Now, that is the question. Neither status of office or rank, nor wisdom or prudence, count for anything now. The only hope lies there, when the judgment finally comes and all eyes are upon him, waiting. All hope lies in his hands. Far above all our attempts to protect our future, over all that we have done to secure our own life with our anxious busy-ness and self-torture, over all our cleverness, lies the beatitude of the waiting, watching servant and the sentence of death on the sleeping servant. The waiting servant expects everything, everything from God. Yes, he expects God himself and gives glory to him. He wants nothing for himself, all for God. Only the waiting servant is open, ready for anything. Only such can go from Advent to Christmas. Blessed are those who wait.”

“What I have hitherto and constantly taught concerning this I know not how to change in the least, namely, that by faith, as St. Peter says, we acquire a new and clean heart, and God will and does account us entirely righteous and holy for the sake of Christ, our Mediator. And although sin in the flesh has not yet been altogether removed or become dead, yet He will not punish or remember it.

“Beware of those who promise a sweet, calm, tranquility in this life from God by perfecting your commitment to spiritual exercises. They did not work for Luther in the monastery and they will not work for us. Do not believe that we can reach a lofty level of sanctification where we can be free of the battles that rage in our minds and hearts in this life. We walk by faith and hope for the better day that is coming when eternity blesses us with the full fruits of Christ’s victory at His Heavenly Banquet. For now, we join Christ in His battle against the powers of darkness within and without as very much a junior partner.”

The First Article: Creation

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

What does this mean?

I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my limbs, my reason, and all my senses, and still preserves them; in addition thereto, clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and homestead, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods; that He provides me richly and daily with all that I need to support this body and life, protects me from all danger, and guards me and preserves me from all evil; and all this out of pure, fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me; for all which I owe it to Him to thank, praise, serve, and obey Him. This is most certainly true.

“The infusion of European migration has been over for two generations. Assimilation to American cultural patterns proceeds rapidly. Lutherans now cannot avoid choices about how to relate more generally to other American churches and to the American environment itself…The choices that have been made so far seem to throw into doubt either the ability to communicate an authentically Lutheran word in America or a capacity to maintain such an authentic word…The dominating concern seems to be less the offering of Lutheranism to America than the promotion of social engagements and bureaucratic efficiency.”

“Take me, for example. I opposed indulgences and all papists, but never by force. I simply taught, preached, wrote God’s Word: otherwise I did nothing. And then, while I slept or drank Wittenberg beer with my Philip of Amsdorf the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that never a prince or emperor did such damage to it. I did nothing: the Word did it all. Had I wanted to start trouble…. I could have started such a little game at Worms that even the emperor wouldn’t have been safe. But what would it have been? A mug’s game. I did nothing: I left it to the Word.”