Catechesis Notes for the Week— The Table of Duties for 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. From where does the will to “submit” and “humble one’s self” come? 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.
Congregation at Prayer
May 15, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— The Table of Duties: 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 derogatory. It is a term that describes the nature of His office as one who has come into the world to serve no one but others. He came to serve the Father in love and sinful man in love to the point of dying upon the cross. He had no thought for Himself or 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.” Since this is Jesus’ confession about Himself, we should not be adverse to have ourselves called slaves.
May 8, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— The Table of Duties: To Parents and Children—“It would be well to preach to parents on the nature of their office, how they should treat those committed to their authority…God does not want to have knaves or tyrants in this office and responsibility nor does he assign them this honor (that is, power and authority to govern) merely to receive homage. Parents should consider that they owe obedience to God, and that, above all, they should earnestly and faithfully discharge the duties of their office, not only to provide for the material support of their children, servants, subjects, etc., but especially to bring them up to the praise and honor of God…If we want qualified and capable men for both civil and spiritual leadership, we must spare no effort, time, and expense in teaching and educating our children to serve God and mankind. We must not think only of amassing money and property for them. God can provide for them and make them rich without our help, as indeed He does daily. But he has given and entrusted children to us with the command that we train and govern them according to His will; otherwise God would have no need of father and mother. Therefore let everybody know that it is his chief duty, on pain of losing divine grace, to bring up his children in the fear and knowledge of God, and if they are gifted to give them opportunity to learn and study so that they may be of service wherever they are needed.” (4th Commandment, Large Catechism)
May 1, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— The Table of Duties Concerning Wives and Husbands—The passages of Holy Scripture in the Table of Duties concern the offices we have been given as Christians where our faith in Christ is lived out in this world. There is often great confusion about these two holy offices. Husbands are the head of their wives, but their headship is one of sacrificial love, teaching the Word of God, and forgiving sin. They 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. Their beauty is not in outward adornment, but in the reception of their 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 that love and trust in it.—Excerpted from Lutheran Catechesis
April 24, 2016Download (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.—Excerpted from Lutheran Catechesis, p.376
April 17, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week—Of Citizens—This section of the Table of Duties teaches us that citizens are not only to honor the civil government, but they are also to participate fully in the society. Christians, governed by the Word of God, their faith in Christ, and their understanding of the distinction between the two kingdoms, are encouraged to participate in civic discourse, run for public office, serve in the military, and volunteer in the community. Their faith in Christ manifests itself in acts of charity and mercy for the temporal support of their neighbors in need. In addition to paying taxes and obeying the laws of the land, Christians are called to pray for their rulers, participate in the general welfare of the nation, and “to be ready to do whatever is good.”—Excerpted from Lutheran Catechesis, p. 374
April 10, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week—Of Civil Government—We are reminded of the important role of the civil government in the secular kingdom every time we confess in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds that Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate. The phrase “under Pointius Pilate” means “under God” because the governing authorities have been instituted by God. God works His will through them, even when they be evil. This requires faith in the Lord who promises to work His will, even though we may not understand why or how He will do it. Jesus submitted Himself to the governing authorities in His Passion. Although these authorities were evil and unbelieving, God accomplished His will through the administration of their office. Though Pilate did not believe in Christ, he nevertheless spoke on God’s behalf when he declared Jesus to be the innocent King of the Jews, and when he sentenced Jesus to death by crucifixion. Our salvation was won for us when the Son submitted Himself to the judgment of the Roman governor in the secular kingdom. Every time we confess that Jesus was “crucified under Pontius Pilate,” we should be reminded and strengthened by this to live faithfully under the civil authorities.
April 3, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— Associating with Sinners—The Ministry of Absolution—The ministry of private absolution is retained in the church because of God’s passion to save the lost sinner. The baptized Christian still “daily sins much and deserves nothing but God’s wrath and punishment.” The devil, the world, and the Christian’s own sinful nature wage an incessant war against faith in Christ. Holy Absolution is spoken that the Christian’s faith in Christ might be restored and that his conscience might be comforted and strengthened against these attacks. Faith lives from the word of the Gospel. How wonderful it is that Christ’s absolution comes to us sinners in many ways: Holy Baptism, the preaching of the Gospel to the congregation in the Divine Service, ongoing catechesis, the Lord’s Supper, and even the comforting words of the Gospel spoken to us by our brothers and sisters in Christ. But it is also offered to us in the consolation our pastor is called to give us privately: Holy Absolution. Private absolution is a sermon of the sweetest Gospel for the individual sinner applied to the sinner’s specific need. Like our Lord who received sinners and ate with them, the Lutheran pastor is called by God to associate with the members of his flock who are tormented by the weaknesses of their sinful nature and plagued by a bad conscience. He is called to believe that he has no greater work than to offer the comfort of Holy Absolution. (Luth. Cat. p. 201)
March 27, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— The Resurrection of the Body and Christian Burial — The Easter Epistle this year is from 1 Corinthians 15:51-57: “‘Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’” This passage clearly teaches something that is central to our faith as Christians: on the last day our bodies will rise from the dead. The physical resurrection of the dead is central to our faith in Christ because the Son of God became man precisely to reverse the consequences of sin: death and separation from God. The Christian reverence for the body rests upon the foundation of the incarnation and bodily suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord. Every act of our salvation is bound up with the flesh and blood body of Jesus. Since we are united with His body in our baptism, since we partake of His body in the Lord’s Supper, since He rose bodily from the dead to incorruption and immortality, WE shall rise bodily from the dead on the Last Day. For this reason Christians have always taken great care of the body, even in death, just as the women and Joseph of Arimathea attended faithfully to the body of Jesus. It is a sign of our faith and hope in the resurrection of the body. We will not be “disembodied spirit.” We will be raised with a glorious spiritual, yet physical body that is immortal and incorruptible. This is why the committal liturgy at the graves states: “We now commit the body of our brother to the ground…in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life….May God the Father, who created this body; may God the + Son who redeemed this body; may God the Holy Spirit, who by Holy Baptism sanctified this body to be His temple, keep these remains to the day of the resurrection of all flesh.”
March 20, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— Weep Not For Me —“Jesus turning to them said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.’” (Luke 23:28) “He suffers for our sake. For this reason it grieves the Lord that His suffering should make us weep. He wants us to be happy, to praise God and give thanks for His grace, and to glorify Him and bear our witness, for it is through His Passion that we received God’s grace, and were freed from sin, and death, and became God’s dear children. But we are as slow to the one as to the other, for by nature we are contrary. When we should weep over our sins, we laugh; when we should laugh and our hearts be joyful because Christ, through His death, has won eternal life for us, we weep. For either we have no regard for such joy, because our hearts are bewitched by the merriment of this world, or we weep, lament, and pine as if Christ had never died, never paid for our sin, never stilled the wrath of God, and never redeemed us from death. Therefore prayer is needed for both: first, that God through the Holy Ghost may touch our hearts, that He may make us loathe sin, may draw us away from it, and take away our trust in ourselves. Then, that He may kindle in our hearts His comfort in the midst of sin, and give us a firm confidence in our Lord’s sacrifice and satisfaction.” – Martin Luther, 1545, Day by Day we Magnify Thee