The practice of assigning sponsors to candidates for Baptism originated in the first three centuries of the Church during the time of widespread persecution. Respected, mature Christians from the congregation were chosen to “sponsor” adult converts throughout their catechesis prior to Baptism. They were to pray for the catechumens whom they were sponsoring and support them in their catechesis so that they did not succumb to the temptations to return to the life of unbelief. The early church understood the great danger that Satan, intense persecution, and the riches of this world posed for catechumens. They would be tempted to forsake the seed of the Gospel that had been implanted in them (Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23). At the time of their baptism, sponsors would stand with their catechumens and give testimony that they had not fallen away from the faith into which they had been called.
In the early church, sponsors were chosen for adult converts or entire families. It was understood that children born to baptized Christians were “sponsored” chiefly by their parents who were responsible for teaching them the faith. Sponsors, by definition, confess the faith of the child or adult being baptized, and they should possess a level of maturity in the faith so that they will be able to offer prayer, counsel, and support to those they sponsor.
In the coming years we want to regain the practice of assigning sponsors from within the congregation, particularly for adult converts. The duties of these sponsors would include attendance with those they sponsor at catechesis classes and the Divine Service, assisting catechumens with understanding the liturgy and the local customs of the congregation, praying for their catechumens, and supporting them in other ways with their counsel and help. Together, we pray:
“Heavenly Father, enable our sponsors to be examples of prayer and faithfulness in hearing the Word of God, receiving the Sacraments, confessing sin, and living by faith in Christ’s forgiveness with love toward others. Grant that their catechumens might learn from them to suffer under the cross of persecution and affliction with steadfastness, patience, and joy, to the glory of the only true God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen” (LSB Agenda).
Didache Begins on September 22
Didache is a 24 week, intensive course in the Bible, Catechism, and Liturgy of the Church for the spiritual renewal of our adult members, all new members of the congregation, perspective members, new Academy parents, and for those who simply want to learn more about what we believe and why we worship the way we do. If you haven’t been to Didache before, this course is for you! Classes begin Sept. 22 and meet Monday evenings at 7 p.m. If you are in need of childcare or babysitting so that you and your spouse can attend together, please speak to Pastor Bender.
Passing on the Faith
Families are important. The creation accounts of man and woman made in the image of God pass by quickly. It seems no sooner than God had completed creation, that man rushes toward the fall, taking himself and his family with him. What was God’s gift in creation before the fall, as a place of nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord became cast into the fallen world. Man no longer lives in that Edenic garden, undefiled and unashamed. The family is barred from paradise, as cursed men and women waiting in faith for the promised Son. Generation after generation the story is retold, transmitted decade after decade through families, from fathers to their children.
How the faith is transmitted is a mystery, a hidden thing, an unseen reality of the Holy Spirit. The God who cast the first family out of the Garden of Eden at the same time provided them with skins to cover their nakedness, the clothing of righteousness in the promise of Jesus Christ and with the begetting of children so that faith and families would continue, generation after generation. God’s intention for the family was not Adam and Eve fending off deception and temptation in an idyllic garden, but God’s ultimate plan was Jesus in the Garden–of Gethsemane, praying for His family, His wife and children, the Church. God’s picture of the model family is the image of Jesus Christ on the cross, forgiving sin and pouring out His life for others. Having left His father’s house and handing over His own mother to the disciple’s care, Jesus takes up the bride which His Father had given to Him—the Church (John 19:26–27)—and the two become one flesh. Upon the cross, Jesus vows to His betrothed wife, promising to love, honor, and keep her in sickness and in health, forsaking all others until the consummation of the ages and the marriage supper of the Lamb. (See Eph. 5:25-32; Rev. 19:6‑9.)
Ever since that first dysfunctional family—Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel—families can be messy business. We find ourselves and our own disordered families reflected in the scriptures. Like Absalom, we are religious rebels, and like the younger son, we are prodigals (Luke 15:11ff), but the Lord is a patient and forgiving Father, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. By His grace, mysteriously, He makes families wonderfully resilient. Jesus is for us, what we fail to be: father, husband, and brother, adopting the orphan and setting the solitary in families. (See Isa 9:6, Jer. 31:32, Mark 3:35, and Ps. 68:2). Within the church, He provides as mother, as daughter, and as wife. (See Matt. 23:37, Jer. 4:31, and 1 Pet. 2:21-3:1). The Lord gives grandmothers (2 Tim 1:5) and grandfathers (Matt 1:1ff) to support parental strengths and reinforce areas of parental weakness.
As a church, Peace models its practices in accordance with the image of the family that Christ portrays and offers freely to all people. In terms of external, concrete realities, the “culture of catechesis” that Peace seeks to live out is not merely the teaching of doctrine, but the teaching of the forgiveness of sin, receiving Christ’s gifts in faith, and living in love toward one’s neighbor. This culture of catechesis, based in the forgiveness of sins for Christ’s sake, allows repentance and reconciliation to be taught, but more importantly, it allows forgiveness to be received. By providing the one thing needful, it allows children to experience and explore the faith in the firm foundation of its realities.
As parents, we take our children to church to learn about Jesus, but we also take them inside the Church, drawing them into the real mystery of faith in Christ. As crucibles of grace, families make us keenly aware of our sin, our powerlessness to save ourselves, and our need for forgiveness. By means of God’s gift and in God’s plan, families point us to the Gospel and our need for a Savior.
To Everyone an Answer Lecture Series Presents “The Problem of Suicide” with Author and Pastor Peter Preus
The Rev. Peter Preus presents an evening of study and discussion concerning suicide and the role the illness of depression plays in suicide, even of Christians, Sunday Oct. 19, 5:30 p.m. in this first of the four-part To Everyone an Answer lecture series for 2014–2015. Preus will focus his comments on the comfort and hope that the Gospel offers to those who may be wrestling with the loss of a loved one from suicide or struggling with the temptation to commit suicide. Youth groups, young adults, and parents are encouraged to attend. The Rev. Preus is pastor of Lutheran Church of the Triune God, Brooklyn Center, Minnesota and author of And She Was a Christian: Why Do Believers Commit Suicide? The lecture is suitable for ages teen to adult. Childcare will be available. Chili and soup supper will be provided. All is at no cost.
The Rev. Peter Bender presents “Why So Many Christian Denominations?” on Friday, Nov. 21, 7 p.m. as the second lecture of the series. Pastor Bender will provide a historical and doctrinal overview that explores the major confessional themes and origins of mainline Christian denominations. He seeks to answer, “Where did denominations come from? What are the similarities and differences? Where does the Lutheran Church ‘fit’ into the vast array of Christian denominations? How should Lutherans confess the faith among other Christians and before the world in a pluralistic age?” The lecture is suitable for all ages.
In January, Pastor Bender continues the historical discussion with “Understanding the Origins and Differences Among the Lutheran Churches” on Friday, January 16 at 7 p.m. after the fish fry. Pastor Bender will explore the origin and history of the Lutheran Church, how this confessional movement “fits” into the scheme of denominationalism, and the origin and differences among the American Lutheran synods. He seeks to answer, “Who are we? Where did we come from? How should we confess the faith among other Lutherans who are not part of our fellowship?”
Guest lecturer, international speaker, and professor of philosophy, Dr. Angus Menuge, Concordia University Wisconsin, will present, “The Role of Apologetics in Catechesis and Evangelism” on Sunday, March 15, beginning with a chili and soup supper at 5:30 p.m. Dr. Menuge will address answers to the questions of the relationship of catechesis and evangelism, and how to equip Christians to face the challenges from modern science.
Kapelle Concert at Peace on Oct. 25
Celebrate the Reformation with Kapelle, Concordia University—Chicago’s premier concert choir Oct. 25, 7 p.m. at Peace Lutheran Church and Academy, W240 N6145 Maple Ave., Sussex. The choir will join with the Academy Choir in an evening celebration of the Reformation. Admission is free.
Kapelle will also sing with Peace’s Senior Choir at Peace’s Divine Services on Oct. 26, 7:45 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. For more information, phone (262) 246-3200.
Welcome New Academy Teachers
The academy has added two new teachers to fill the vacancies in the lower elementary grades and in Latin left by the retirement of Sue Laubenstein and Anne Schumacher. We welcome Laura Laubenstein and Elisabeth Schneider to the academy. Each was appointed to the office of academy teacher on Sunday, August 24, 2014. The following is a brief introduction to our new faculty.
Laura B. Laubenstein
Teacher, Grades 1–4
Education: B.S. in Mathematics, Carroll University, Waukesha, WI
Montana Department of Public Instruction Standard Teaching License: Secondary (5-12), Math Endorsement
Whole Brain Teaching, October 2013
Capturing Kids Hearts, August, 2010
Acellus Program, May 2010
Like many of our Academy’s alumni, Laura is an icon of the love of Christ, revealing that selfless, sacrificing love that places others above one’s self. Using her giftedness in mathematics, Laura has experienced a breadth of teaching experiences subsequent to her student teaching in the local, Waukesha County area. She taught junior high and high school mathematics through calculus and statistics at Circle Public Schools, Circle, MT. Previously, during her two years at Mandaree High School, a small, reservation school in Mandaree, ND, she worked in math intervention, helping struggling students achieve, fostering relationships with students and their families to attain their good. In returning to the academy as a teacher, Laura exhibits that same love of Christ toward even the youngest of her students at Peace. As Laura explains, borrowing the words of Socrates, “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” While no stranger to incorporating technology into teaching, Laura enjoys hiking, camping, and playing with her dogs.
Awards and Accomplishments: Graduated Magna Cum Laude; Delta Sigma Nu Honorary Scholastic Society Award
Elisabeth J. Schneider
Education: B.A. German and Classics—Latin, Knox College, IL; M.A. Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
Elisabeth knows the importance of studying a foreign language, both modern and classical. Because she so enjoyed learning German, which she has studied since high school, she started studying Latin in college. During her first year, she became captivated by Latin while studying the poems of Horace and Ovid. The language of Rome and classical history so enamored her, she inadvertently ended up with a major in the subject alongside German. Elisabeth’s teaching experience originated as a graduate teaching assistant, planning lessons, lecturing beginning students, and grading exams while working toward her masters.
The opportunity to teach a subject Elisabeth loves at Peace, where Latin is part of an education centered in Christ’s gifts of Word and Sacrament, is an incredible, unexpected blessing for her. As she says, “Latin not only provides a stepping stone to other European languages, but it also opens the door to a closer engagement with the Church’s history.” When not taking care of her family, Elisabeth spends most of her spare time reading, from historical fiction to poetry, but she also enjoys playing the cello.
Sue Laubenstein Named Teacher Emeritus
Sue Laubenstein was such a well-respected teacher and blessing to the academy that upon her retirement, she was named Academy Teacher Emeritus at the congregational assembly August 18, 2014.
Having been with the academy since its beginning, first as a preschool aide, then teaching grades 1-4, Sue’s years of service in the academy was rooted in her faith in the forgiveness of sins for Christ’s sake. She desired to be at Peace primarily to be involved in a church and school that was founded upon the Gospel.
For Sue, teaching is a job that begins in the classroom but continues on through life, so it is fitting that even in retirement, Sue is still involved with the academy as a consultant. Her experience and expertise in teaching phonics and spelling is a valued contribution in curriculum development.