The Bible always and forever belongs to God. Whether it be in German, English, or Spanish, it is “the Word” – and as such it comes to us as God wills. Part and parcel with Reformation, Lutherans celebrate Martin Luther’s translation of the New Testament into German. What this is all about, though, is the return of the Word to the people.
Putting the Bible into the hands of just everybody is a dangerous thing. We forget that Luther was among the first to do this. It is dangerous because the Word itself is dangerous. Oh yes, it is! The Word releases the Reformer in us, and when the Reformer appears the powers quake and people become uncomfortable. Sit down and read the Bible – English is fine. You’ll see that what I say it true.
The fascinating part of the ‘Luther translating the Bible’ story is the trauma he went through in doing so. The words he picked had to be just right. There were political, economic and religious themes that challenged him. “How do you say that?” What is the cost of doing so?
Enter the Reformer. Enter trials, confrontations and divisions – all because the Word had been set loose once again.
Fear not! Know, though, that to read the Bible is to translate the Bible. “If they take our house, goods, fame, child, or spouse, they cannot win the day!” Luther sings in A Mighty Fortress. Fear not. You can do this.
We cannot read Scripture passively. You are invited to translate the words into 21st century Oregonian, that is to live the Word in a way that makes sense in the here and now. Nobody else can do this – only you!
Translate. Let the Word call out the Reformer in you.
By translating the New Testament into German Luther declared that he trusted the Spirit more than bishops or scholars. With Luther, I trust the Spirit in you. I believe that God will preach through your life, and that your life is vital!
It is not the Reformer who makes trouble. The world just sees us that way sometimes. The Bible both comforts and confronts. It forgives even while it condemns. And truly, Christ gives life even as he bids us to take up our cross.
Today I invite you to embrace your calling as a translator. Let the Reformer loose. Start with the Bible. Just read it. The rest will follow.
With you on the journey,
Bp. Dave Brauer-Rieke