Catechesis Notes for the Week — The Kingdom of God and the Parables of Jesus: The Small Catechism teaches us how to listen to God’s Word. It often defines terms found in the Scriptures. Jesus told many parables about the Kingdom of God. Under the Second Petition of the Lord’s Prayer, the Catechism teaches us that the kingdom of God centers in the gift of the Holy Spirit and faith in Christ—a faith that trusts in the Word of God and that leads a godly life here in time and forever after in eternity. This means that the kingdom of God is about the Church and the ministry of the Gospel. We see these themes in the Bible Stories for the Week. On Monday Jesus calls, the Twelve Apostles. By the power of His Word, proclaimed by His ministers, Jesus casts out demons, binds Satan, destroys unbelief, and creates faith. In the Parable of the Sower and the Seed, Jesus teaches us that the Word of God is the only thing that can create faith (God’s kingdom) and that Satan, persecution, and earthly riches war against that faith and seek to destroy it. In the Parable of the Growing Seed, faith in Jesus is the seed to grow almost imperceptibly by the power of the Word and Spirit of God. Jesus is the content of the small seed of the Gospel, the Parable of the Mustard Seed. It grows into a mighty tree, the Church, which gives help and comfort to many. The Church is depicted in Jesus Stills the Storm. He is the object of our faith and His Word alone gives peace and salvation for His weak and trembling disciples.CP180610
Congregation at Prayer
June 3, 2018Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week — The Seventh Petition—“Rescue us from every evil of body and soul, possessions and reputation.” When we pray the Seventh Petition, “but deliver us from evil,” we might be tempted to conclude that we are asking that “evil” never rear its head in our lives. This misses the mark. Evil will come into our lives in the form of Satan’s attacks upon our “body and soul, possessions and reputation.” Holy Scripture makes this clear. We will not be spared from being attacked. God wills that the attacks of evil against us serve the cause of faith. “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you shall glorify Me.” Therefore, in the Seventh Petition we are asking that God would preserve our faith in Christ when we are assaulted by the Evil One, and teach us to commend ourselves—body, soul, and spirit, with all that we are and have—into His gracious keeping. The Word of our Lord teaches us that He will not forsake His own. If He allows evil to enter into our lives, then He does so for His good purposes and for the exercise of faith in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. This petition promises the Christian: “God will not allow the Evil One or any adversity to overwhelm you.” By this petition He invites you to trust this promise and to call upon Him in your need. In this way faith in Christ is active. CP180603
May 27, 2018Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week — Summer Bible Stories: The Gospel of Mark—Throughout the summer short readings from Mark’s Gospel will be listed as the Bible Stories for the Family and Academy. Mark’s Gospel highlights Jesus as Savior from the power of Satan, sin, and death. Take time out to pray and read Scripture throughout the summer.CP180527
May 20, 2018Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week — To Widows—When someone loses a spouse, what should he or she do? Whenever we lose any of God’s good gifts, the devil tempts us to fill the void in our lives with other things that not only cannot satisfy, but which may actually be sinful and a sign of mistrust of God. This is what the Scriptures refer to as “living for pleasure.” In this particular passage, the reference to “living for pleasure” refers to Christian women who were tempted to abandon their faith and enter the trade of harlotry in order to provide temporal security and support for themselves since they had lost their husbands. Instead, in the face of losses we are called to move even closer to Christ and His Word, putting our hope and confidence in the Lord who will fill the void of our lives with Himself. As difficult as the loss of a spouse can be, it can never be a justification for departing from what God’s Word calls us to be and do. God promises to provide daily bread for those who trust in Him. Divine Service, catechesis, and the mutual conversation and consolation of Christian brothers and sisters are critically important for men and women who have lost their spouses.
To Everyone—The last section of the Table of Duties summarizes Christian vocation: that is every Christian to live by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us (Galatians 2:20). It is our common faith in Christ and the grace of God—His undeserved and unmerited love—that unites us in love for one another. Just as Christ loved us, though we did not deserve it and had done nothing to earn His favor, even so we are called by the Gospel to live in love for one another and especially for those who do not deserve such love. The Apostle John wrote, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loves us, we also ought to love one another.… And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:7-11, 16). It is this love of God to which we are called by the Gospel, and it is this love of God which is the source of strength to live faithfully in our vocation. The source of true fulfillment is not in living for one’s self, but in giving of ourselves to one another out of our love for Christ. [Reprinted from Lutheran Catechesis: Catechist Edition]
May 13, 2018Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week — To Employers and Supervisors—Christian employers and supervisors are also to be governed in their work by their faith in the Gospel. This is the meaning of the phrase “in the same way.” In the same way that workers are led by their faith in the Gospel to be faithful in their work, employers and supervisors are to be led by the Gospel in their conduct toward their workers. A Christian employer is not to threaten, coerce, or abuse his workers. This does not mean that a Christian employer has to put up with laziness or shoddy workmanship from his employees. Faith in God’s grace and forgiveness does not mean tolerating sin, malfeasance, or neglect of one’s duties. Faith in God’s grace and forgiveness means that the Christian employer administers his office within the secular kingdom fairly, impartially, and for the welfare of his other employees and customers. If a worker requires discipline or needs to be fired because of failures in the workplace, such actions are not taken out of vengeance but with the understanding that Christ is the “Master” of both the employer and the employee and “there is no favoritism with Him.” A worker who is derelict in his duties must be disciplined or removed from his work, not primarily because he is stealing from his employer (which he is), but because his failures hinder the capacity of his employer to serve others in love with the services and work his business provides.
To Youth—“Submission” and “humility” are not terms that any of us naturally gravitate toward. The sinful flesh wants to submit to no one and is filled with arrogance and pride. If the sinful flesh doesn’t get its way, it rebels. Where does the will to “submit” and “humble one’s self” come from? It comes from faith in the Gospel. Our Lord Jesus submitted Himself as a young man, because He trusted in His Father who promised to do good through His submission. He humbled Himself to the point of death on the cross, because He trusted His Father to do good through His suffering. When youth are admonished to submit to their elders and humble themselves before them, they are really being invited to trust God to do them good in their office as youth, even though they may have to endure things that they don’t agree with or enjoy. The way of faith is always the way of deference toward others. This we learn to believe through the faithful reception of the Gospel and Sacrament of our Lord. [Reprinted from Lutheran Catechesis: Catechist Edition]CP180513
May 6, 2018Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week — To Workers of All Kinds—How many employees or workers would call themselves “slaves”? Not too many. If one did consider himself a slave, it would not be a complimentary term. Yet “slave” is a term that is often used in the New Testament of our Lord. For Him it is not demeaning. It is a term that describes the nature of His office as one who has come into the world to serve not Himself but others. He came to serve both the Father in love and sinful man in love to the point of dying upon the cross. He had no thought for Himself or for His own protection or welfare. He is the ultimate “worker,” and in His work we see the true nature of Christian work. We “work” as Christians, not to serve ourselves, but to serve others in love. The characteristic of our work is that it is done for others, even if they do not appreciate it. Selfless love is what motivated Jesus, and it is that love to which we are called by faith in the Gospel. Jesus’ selfless love and service to us is reflected in His own words: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Since this is Jesus’ confession about Himself, we should not be adverse to having ourselves called slaves. [Reprinted from Lutheran Catechesis: Catechist Edition]CP180506
April 29, 2018Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week — To Parents—The passage cited for parents in the Table of Duties addresses itself explicitly to “fathers” not because mothers are excluded from this admonition, but to underscore the spiritual headship of the Christian father in the home and family. Ever since the fall into sin there has been a natural tendency for men to abdicate their responsibility to teach the Word of God to their wives and children. This passage makes it clear that there is no greater responsibility for a Christian father than the passing on of the Christian faith to his children. His wife is a “co-regent” in this important work of bringing up the children “in the training and instruction of the Lord.” The admonition against “exasperating” or “provoking the children to wrath” is a warning to Christian parents that they are not to allow the law to predominate in the rearing of their children, lest their children become embittered or despair of their parents’ love. As important as the law is in maintaining discipline, for Christian parents it is never an end in itself. They use the law’s admonition also for the sake of the Gospel, that they might bring about repentance and faith in God’s mercy. Just as the Gospel must predominate in the Church’s preaching, so the Gospel, forgiveness, and mercy must predominate in the home. Law and discipline must be administered dispassionately and objectively without the rancor of bitterness. The law is administered for maintaining order and, as God grants it, for repentance for sin. Even in the administration of discipline and punishment in the home, the Christian father and mother are called to minister the law in love and for the sake of the Gospel. Baptized Christian children, as sinful as they may be, must never be told that they must earn their parents’ love or that they are hated or despised by their parents because of their failings. Christian parents are called to love their sinful children in the same way that God loves us in Christ.
To Children—Christian children are called to honor and obey their parents under the Fourth Commandment, whether their parents are Christians or not. Obedience and honor are not reserved for parents who always do the right thing or who have “earned” the respect of their children. The Gospel teaches us to honor our parents especially when they do not deserve such honor, because this is what God has done for us in Christ. Jesus was obedient and submissive to His sinful parents, Mary and Joseph, not because they deserved it, but because of the office that they had been given by God and because of God’s command and promise attached to their office. Through His obedience to His parents and every earthly authority instituted among men, Jesus not only won our salvation from all sin, but also provided to us the gift of His grace that enables us to be faithful as His children and “to enjoy long life on the earth.” To “obey your parents in the Lord” underscores that, for Christian children, it is precisely our faith in the Lord Jesus that governs our honor and obedience toward our sinful parents. [Reprinted from Lutheran Catechesis: Catechist Edition]CP180429
April 22, 2018Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week — To Wives— The office of wife was established by God in the creation of mankind and the institution of marriage. A wife is a woman, united in love to her husband in marriage, who receives life from her husband and nurtures that life as a mother in the procreation of children who are to be brought up in the “training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). The Bible passages in the Table of Duties address themselves to the calling we have been given as Christians where our faith in Christ is lived out in this world. But there is often great confusion about these two holy offices in marriage. The husband is indeed the head of the wife, but his headship is one of loving sacrificially, teaching the Word of God, and forgiving sin. Husbands are to be considerate of their wives who are placed in an office that requires them to submit to their husbands. Husbands are not to lord their authority over their wives; this is always a temptation for any Christian husband. Wives are to understand that their office of submission is patterned after Christ’s bride, the Church. They are to expect their husbands to love them, teach them, and forgive them. The wife’s beauty is not in outward adornment, but in the reception of her husband’s love. “This is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands ….” It is a “beautiful” and blessed thing when husbands love their wives as Christ loved the Church and when wives receive the love of their husbands and trust in it. [Reprinted from Lutheran Catechesis: Catechist Edition]CP180422
April 15, 2018Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week — To Husbands— Chief among the offices that God has established in the creation of man are the offices of husband and wife. A husband is a man, joined in love to his wife in marriage, who cares for her and “cultivates” life with her in the procreation of children. When the Apostle Peter directs, “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers,” he is reminding husbands that their wives have been given an office by God that places them in a subordinate position to them. It would be very easy for the husband, corrupted by the sinful flesh as he is, to take advantage of his headship and the wife’s position of subordination to him. He is to “be considerate” of the position that God gave her and be husband to her in selfless love. Although they are not both in the same office, they are, nevertheless, equal “heirs of the gracious gift of life” in Christ Jesus. If he does not believe that, then his prayers, which include the ministration of his office as a husband, will be “hindered.” The essential disposition of the husband to the wife is contained in the passage from Colossians: “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” Here the husband’s office is depicted as the office of Christ who cares for His bride the Church, as it is also in Ephesians 5:22-33. Christ loves His bride by laying down His life for her and by covering her sins with His blood. He is never harsh with her who is “bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh, but nourishes and cares for her as His own body.” The office of husband finds its identity in Christ, the Church’s Bridegroom. [Reprinted from Lutheran Catechesis: Catechist Edition] CP180415