February devotion: Happy birthday, Katie!
On January 29, 1499, a little girl was born in Saxony, not far from the city of Leipzig. No one could possibly have foreseen that she would live on in the hearts of her sisters in faith for centuries to come—but that’s what happened.
Little Katharina von Bora grew up to marry Martin Luther, but that’s only part of what makes her so appealing to women today. She was a role model for women in every age.
Thanks to her convent training, Katie was familiar not only with theology and the life of faith, but with all the ins and outs of managing a bustling household that was always ready to welcome guests—from princes and professors to poor relatives, not to mention students. Theology students were always eager to move into Lutherhaus!
Dinner conversation around the Luthers’ table was the main attraction, of course, but another attraction (especially for the students) might have been that Martin didn’t charge for room and board. Neither did he accept any payment as he traveled from place to place, lecturing, preaching and debating. And Martin loved to give to the poor, for as he said, “God put fingers on our hands for the money to slide through them so God can give us more. Whatever a person gives away, God will reimburse.”
Martin earned a good salary teaching and preaching in Wittenberg, but even so, the expenses of Lutherhaus and Martin’s ministry always ate it up—and then some. How could the household and the ministry stay afloat? Martin himself said that if he had to take care of the building, brewing and cooking, he’d surely die.
No worry about that with Katie around. Not only was she an energetic and expert household manager, she was a prudent steward of the Luthers’ financial life. She bought and sold land and livestock, crops and kegs of beer, always looking out for good bargains. She knew that Martin and his historic ministry depended on her wise management of the family’s resources.
Would it be too much to say that Martin Luther’s ministry would not have been possible without Katie alongside him? That’s for others to decide, but I think we can safely say that her careful stewardship made his work easier. He was able to keep on traveling and preaching and persuading right up to the end of his life, 18 years after marrying the woman he called the Morning Star of Wittenberg.
Good stewardship means striking a balance between taking care of our ministry and ministering to others. When we send our Thankofferings, Regular Offerings, and undesignated “Where Needed Most” gifts to Women of the ELCA, we are taking care of our ministry—just as Katie Luther took good care of the ministry centered at Lutherhaus.
Happy birthday, Katie, and thanks for everything.
To learn more about about Katharina von Bora, view our free, downloadable resource.
Image credit: Gunnar Heydenreich, Cranach digital archive, http://lucascranach.org/home
January devotion: “I am about to do a new thing!”
December 2015 devotion: GIving thanks for you
November 2015 devotion: Giving thanks to God
October 2015 devotion: Be praised, my Lord
September 2015 devotion: Secrets to happiness
August 2015 devotion: Sustaining stewardship
July 2015 devotion: How does your garden grow?
June 2015 devotion: Practicing gratitude
May 2015 devotion: "Easy for her!"
April 2015 devotion: Rebuking the fever
March 2015 devotion: Prophecies and visions
February 2015 devotion: Giving thanks for Bold Women
January 2015 devotion: Treasure chest
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