I remember my grandma speaking German to my mom and aunts, and when she did you knew it was important. On grandma's shelf was a book, The Martin Luther Christmas Book. Hardly a children's book, but it was there -- year after year. She was given the book as a Christmas present in the1940s.
Somehow I ended up with the book and about every other year I read it. It was translated from German by Roland Bainton who grew up in Colfax, Washington. Reading Luther sometimes is as awkward as some scriptures. But I do enjoy his humor, wondrous insights and even cockiness. Below are three paragraphs from the Annunciation chapter.
And yet this was the one whom God chose. He might have gone to Jerusalem and picked out Caiaphas' daughter, who was fair, rich, clad in gold-embroidered raiment, and attended by a retinue of maids in waiting. But God preferred a lowly maid from a mean town.
Quite possibly Mary was doing the housework
when the Angel Gabriel came to her. Angels prefer to come to people as they are fulfilling their calling and discharging their office. The angel appeared to the shepherds as they were watching their flocks, to Gideon as as he was threshing the grain, to Samson's mother as she sat in the field. Possibly, however, the Virgin Mary, who was very religious, was in a corner praying for the redemption of Israel.
The angel greeted Mary and said, "Hail, Mary, full of grace." That is the Latin rendering, which unhappily has been taken over literally into German. Tell me, is this good German? Would any German say you are full of grace? He knows what you mean if you say that a purse if full of gold, but what is he to make of a girl full of grace? I have translated it, 'Thou gracious one', but if I were really to write German I would say, 'God bless you , dear Mary -- liebe Maria,' for any German knows that this word liebe comes right from the heart.
With hope and expectation,