Catechesis Notes for the Week— How Do We Receive the Holy Spirit — When Jesus appeared to the disciples on Easter evening, He said to them, “Peace to You! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you … Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20: 21-23, NKJV). These words teach us much about “how” we receive the Holy Spirit. We receive the Holy Spirit through our Savior’s Word of forgiveness. There is an inseparable linkage between our Savior’s words and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is “the Lord and giver of life.” He calls us to faith in Christ. He creates a new will in our hearts that desires to love God and serve the neighbor. He produces in us the good works of love that flow from faith. He brings forth in us the “fruit of the Spirit”— love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. He brings to us everything that Jesus has done for us. By the Holy Spirit, Jesus Himself actually dwells in our hearts by faith. The Holy Spirit does all this by the Word of our Savior. Christians need to know where the Holy Spirit promises to be found: in the reception of the Word of Christ. Therefore, we seek the Spirit in the very promises of our Baptism, in the ongoing preaching of the Gospel, in faithful catechesis of the Word of Christ, in the life of repentance and faith that confesses sin and receives the absolution. Even the Lord’s Supper carries the promise of the Holy Spirit because Jesus’ word, “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,” is at the center of the Sacrament. When we pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are praying for the Holy Spirit to come to us and work in us where He promises to be found: in Christ’s Word—in all the wonderful ways Jesus’ word of forgiveness comes to us.
Congregation at Prayer
August 13, 2017Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— The Sixth Petition—Faith in Christ’s Righteousness Brings True Freedom —It is by the gift of Christ’s righteousness that we are delivered from every evil. This is why faith continues to pray that God would preserve us in His forgiveness against all evil. Satan’s desire is to tempt us away from the free gift of the righteousness of Christ. When our faith moves away from Christ’s righteousness, then false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice come into our hearts and lives. So the faith that receives Christ’s righteousness is always calling upon Him in prayer to preserve us in the freedom of His righteousness.
August 6, 2017Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week—“The Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one” (2 Thess. 3:3). “Most important for the Christian to realize and believe in the face of the devil’s assaults upon him is that our Lord Jesus Christ is faithful to us, and He will deliver us according to the promises of His Word. He does not leave us to flounder in our own strength. It is the power and victory of our Lord Jesus Christ that we are invoking by the Lord’s own word in the Seventh Petition. He wants us to be certain that, when we take up His Word against Satan, He is faithful and strong to save us from Satan’s attacks. He wants us to be certain that when we pray, ‘deliver us from the evil one,’ His deliverance is ours without question. It is the Lord Jesus, who crushed the power of Satan in His death upon the cross, who establishes and guards us through the Gospel from every attack of the evil one.” – Excerpted from Lutheran Catechesis: Catechist Edition p. 200a
July 16, 2017Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week—The Link Between the Office of the Ministry and Faith — “It is also taught among us that we cannot obtain forgiveness of sin and become righteous before God by our own merits, works, or satisfaction, but that we receive forgiveness of sin and become righteous before God by grace, for Christ’s sake, through faith, when we believe that Christ suffered for us and that for His sake our sin is forgiven and righteousness and eternal life are given to us. To obtain such faith God instituted the preaching office to give the Gospel and the sacraments. Through these, as through means, He gives the Holy Spirit; who works faith, when and where He pleases, in those who hear the Gospel. And the Gospel teaches that we have a gracious God, not by our own merits but by the merit of Christ, when we believe this” — Augsburg Confession, Articles IV & V
July 9, 2017Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week—The Fifth Petition—Faith in Christ’s Righteousness Brings True Freedom — Faith in Christ’s righteousness, which is a free gift of God’s grace that covers all our sin, gives true freedom. It is by the gift of Christ’s righteousness that we learn to commend our fellow sinners to God, not holding their sins against them but sincerely forgiving them and gladly doing good to them, especially when they sin against us. This is why faith continues to pray that God would preserve us in His forgiveness against all evil. Satan’s desire is to tempt us away from the free gift of the righteousness of Christ. When our faith moves away from Christ’s righteousness, then false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice come into our hearts and lives. So the faith that receives Christ’s righteousness is always calling upon Him in prayer to preserve us in the freedom of His righteousness.
July 2, 2017Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— Our Lord’s Heart of Love—“The two short parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin illustrate Gods’ gracious heart and His utter delight to seek out and to save the lost sinner. Although the Gospel clearly teaches God’s undeserved love for the whole world, these parables emphasize God’s undeserved love for the individual sinner who is lost in sin and in need of His rescue, no matter who he or she might be. God’s love for the sinner is radical and absurd to human reason. To leave ninety-nine sheep alone in the wilderness to seek the one that was lost until it is found makes no sense. No human being who counts the cost would ever do such a thing. It is not worth it. The cost is too high. Yet, our Lord is consumed with a passion to save the single lost soul. Likewise, our Lord’s unreasonable passion for the salvation of the lost is seen in a woman’s frenzy to find her single lost coin. To everyone else her harried search seems unreasonable, but not to her. Her search for the lost consumes her to the point that nothing else matters. So it is with our Lord. Nothing else matters to Him. He has an unreasonable, frenzied passion to save the lost sinner. This is our Lord’s greatest delight and the reason for ‘joy in the presence of the angels of God.’ “ —Excerpted from Lutheran Catechesis, p. 236.
June 25, 2017Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— Food for the Soul—[The Lord's Supper] is appropriately called the food of the soul since it nourishes and strengthens the new man. While it is true that through Baptism we are first born anew, our human flesh and blood have not lost their old skin. There are so many hindrances and temptations of the devil and the world that we often grow weary and faint, at times even stumble. The Lord’s Supper is given as a daily food and sustenance so that our faith may refresh and strengthen itself and not weaken in the struggle but grow continually stronger…For such times, when our heart feels too sorely pressed, this comfort of the Lord’s Supper is given to bring us new strength and refreshment… (The Large Catechism, Tappert Edition, p. 449, paragraphs 23-24, 27).
June 18, 2017Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— The Power of the Word in the Water — The Catechism states that “the Word of God in and with the water” of Holy Baptism is what gives Baptism its power to work “forgiveness of sins, rescue from death and the devil, and give eternal salvation to all who believe this.” Take away the Word and you have nothing but water; but with the Word you have life-giving water, rich in grace, and the washing of the rebirth in the Holy Spirit. Many Bible stories highlight the power of the Word in, with, and under the water of Baptism. By the Word of the Lord the heavens were opened for forty days and forty nights in the divine judgment of the great flood, and Noah and his family were saved through water. By the Word of the Lord, God saved the children of Israel through the water of the Red Sea and destroyed Pharaoh and his armies. By the Word of the Lord, the waters of the Jordan parted and Israel was drawn into the promised land. By the Word of the Lord, the water of the Jordan cleansed Naaman of his leprosy and even brought him to the faith that confessed that the God of Israel was, indeed, the Lord and the only true God. In all of these stories there are two common themes. First, the water was very very real, it was no symbol, and it carried both the condemnation and the salvation of God. Second, the Word of God itself was real and God joined Himself to the water by His Word in order to accomplish His saving work. To despise the water was to despise the Word. To despise the Word was to reject the water. The water and the Word were inseparably joined together by God. Why is this so important? It is by the Word in tangible water that we come to receive salvation and that we come to know that salvation with absolute and unshakeable certainty.