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Archive for December 20th, 2019

O God, our refuge and strength, You raised up Your servant Katharina to support her husband in the task to reform and renew Your Church in the light of Your  Word. Defend and purify the Church today and grant that, through faith, we may boldly support and encourage our pastors and teachers of the faith as they proclaim and administer the riches of Your grace made known in Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Katharina von Bora (1499–1552) was placed in a convent when still a child and became a nun in 1515. In April 1523 she and eight other nuns were rescued from the convent and brought to Wittenberg. There Martin Luther helped return some to their former homes and placed the rest in good families. Katharina and Martin were married on June 13, 1525. Their marriage was a happy one and blessed with six children. Katharina skillfully managed the Luther household, which always seemed to grow because of his generous hospitality. After Luther’s death in 1546, Katharina remained in Wittenberg but lived much of the time in poverty. She died in an accident while traveling with her children to Torgau in order to escape the plague. Today is the anniversary of her death. (Collect and Intro from The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Just think:

  • The Luther household began with the marriage of  a PRIEST and a former NUN and had  children openly because there is nothing in the Bible to preclude it!  This was one of the first pastor’s families in probably a thousand years in the western Church!  (The eastern Church, the Orthodox, have always allowed for a married priesthood and this is pointed out in the Lutheran Confessions)  There was a superstition at the time that the child of priest would be Satan’s spawn and would be  born deformed.  If their first child  had any physical abnormalities the Reformation might have stopped then and there!
  • Parents would put their young daughters in a convent.  It was a crime against the state to leave a convent.  Katharina and several fellow nuns were hidden in pickle barrels and pirated out of the convent because of the freedom of the Gospel. Luther was charged with finding them husbands and played matchmaker!  One woman was left: Katharina!  But she had her eye on one of Luther’s colleagues.  Luther did not want to marry for at least one simple reason:  being declared a heretic, he could have been executed if not protected by his ruler, Frederic the Wise.  He thought this would not be fair to a wife.  But he consented to marry Katharina. It was not a marriage based at all on romantic love but it is clear from his writings he learned to love her dearly.
  • The Luther family lived in Luther’s former monastery!  (picture  below)  And they needed the rooms for all the guests.  At any given time they had at table 30-40 people!  Some were permanent guests, others were refugees of persecution of the Lutherans, visiting pastors and theologians and of course:  college students!  Many of them recorded Luther’s conversation at table which became his famous “table talks”.
Martin Luther’s Home The Luther family, wife and six children, and various students and visitors lived in the central part of the building. He was given the building by one of the aristocrats supporting his movement
  • Now they had servants and Frau Luther  ran the entire household.  There were no grocery stores.  She planted an extensive garden and grew her food.  She brewed their beer which her husband loved.  They  had to make clothes, mend them, start fires to cook every day, etc.

In the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the priest’s wife is informally called, “the presbytera”: Presbytera (Greek: πρεσβυτέρα, pronounced presvytéra) is a Greek title of honor that is used to refer to a priest’s wife. It is derived from presbyteros—the Greek word for priest (literally, “elder”)

Mrs. Luther was a presbytera as she was taught by her husband, the priest, the Catechism and as she shared in the ministry of house and home for their parish in Wittenberg. This is a good day to give thanks to the Lord for all the faithful wives of pastors and the presbytera be honored.

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Image result for lsb great o antiphons

Isaiah had prophesied, I will place the Key of the House of David on His shoulder; when he opens, no one will shut, when he shuts, no one will open.” (22:22), and “His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, from David’s throne, and over His kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever.”(9:6). In the Book of Revelation (Apocalypse), the Key is the Lord’s Resurrection: 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me,saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. The most significant and even dramatic time of the mention of keys, the Key of David is after Peter, by apocalypse of the Father, confesses Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Matthew 16:18-20

Then there are the narratives in Acts, when the Apostles Peter and Paul were freed from a locked prison. This one is most dramatic and telling of being set free:

And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 

The jailer was a Roman soldier and because he did not fulfill his duty to keep the prison doors locked, he was going to fall on his sword and commit suicide. There are two freedoms told in this narrative: political and spiritual. Spiritual freedom from our sins and sinful culture is much harder to gain. Jesus Christ was key to the Roman soldier being set free and his whole household in the Lord: free and slave, adult and infant. “O Key of David…”

Reflection: His Nativity is the key-note address of the Gospels and our lives together in His.  It sets the  theme of the fulfillment of the promises of the Scriptures.  As in:  shepherds are told of the birth of the Lord, the Good Shepherd, son of David the Shepherd King.   As in:  magi, Gentiles come to worship Him so that the Word goes forth from Zion.  As in:  the gift of myrrh, a spice used for burial.  As in:  the old Zechariah praising God and saying He will give us knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of our sins. As in: the government will be upon His shoulder and the slaughter of the Holy Innocents.  He is the Key of our forgiveness and eternal life for us and our salvation and the salvation of all. He has the key to your heart.

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