Catechesis Notes for the Week— Advent—Advent means “coming.” It is the beginning of the Church Year. During Advent we “celebrate waiting.” No one likes to wait for what he really wants. As Christians we want to receive the full glory of our salvation in Christ our King. But we must wait. In a sense, Advent celebrates the cold, harsh, sober realities of life which we must endure before the resurrection of all flesh. We live in the time of faith’s struggle against the devil, the world, and our sinful nature. God’s promises are the strength of faith by which we endure the struggle until our Lord’s return. Advent, therefore, celebrates living in hope of the fulfillment of God’s promises. As we prepare to celebrate His coming in the flesh, we look forward with certainty to His coming again in glory, even as we enjoy His coming to us NOW in the Holy Gospel and Sacraments. “Hark! A thrilling voice is sounding! ‘Christ IS near!’ we hear it say! Cast away the works of darkness, all you children of the day!”
Congregation at Prayer
November 20, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— The End of the Church Year: Watching During the Great Tribulation—The Bride of Christ, the Holy Christian Church, waits eagerly for her Lord’s Second Coming. Then she, of whom we are all members, will be delivered once and for all from sin and the corruption that is in the world. The “Great Tribulation” of the last days is the struggle that the Church and every Christian in every age has had with the devil, the world, and the sinful flesh. These enemies attack faith in Christ. We, Christ’s Church, have been in the “Last Days” since our Lord’s ascension into heaven. The faith of the Church has always been under attack. Our only defense as Christians is the Word of God and the prayer of faith that claims Christ’s victory in the midst of this suffering.
November 13, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
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.
October 23, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— The Second Article of the Creed —Redemption is the theme of the Second Article. It is a word that indicates that we have been “purchased and won” by Christ from Satan who had been our lord and taskmaster. Satan held sinful man and each one of us in his clutches. His power over us was the Law through sin. Because of our sinful rebellion he was able to lay claim to us and hold us under the Law’s condemnation. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, the condemnation of hell, and the power of Satan, by becoming a curse for us under the Law and pouring out His life-blood into death for us. This is how He, as the Seed of the Woman, would “bruise” or “crush” the devil’s headship and authority over man, according to the first promise of the Gospel in Genesis 3:15. “I will put enmity between you [Satan] and the woman, and between your seed [Satan] and her Seed; He [the woman’s Seed, our Lord Jesus Christ, who was born of the Virgin Mary] shall bruise your head [Satan’s power to condemn us] and you [Satan] shall bruise His heel. Christ was “bruised” upon the cross as He trampled Satan underfoot through His suffering and death. Now we have freedom from Satan’s tyranny through faith in Christ. This week’s Bible verse teaches us the wonderful doctrine of the incarnation of the Son of God—the eternal Word of the Father. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Christ’s glory is beheld in His willingness to “tabernacle among us” in human flesh, just like ours, and to suffer on our behalf for our salvation.
October 9, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— The First Article of the Creed and the Historical Account of Creation in Genesis — The Bible verse for this week teaches us that all of creation came into existence by the Word of God and that apart from God’s Word nothing exists. The stories of the creation of the heavens and the earth move quickly to the creation of man as the crown of God’s creation and the object of God’s greatest affection and love. Though man squandered God’s free gifts in the creation, God did not abandon His affection and love for us. The story of man’s fall into sin is quickly followed by God’s first promise of salvation from the devil and the condemnation that this fall brought upon us. This promise is contained in God’s Word to the devil: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” The “Seed of the Woman” is the Virgin-born Son of God who crushed the devil’s claim upon man when His heel was bruised in His suffering and death upon the cross. This promise of salvation is also accompanied by God’s curse of the fall. The curse of the fall was necessary in order that sinful man might come to believe in his need for God. The curse of the fall gives the preaching of the Law its teeth. The Law preaches repentance—revealing the sin and rebellion from which we need God’s salvation—and the experience of the curse of the fall teaches us that the problem of sin is real and has separated us from God. It is in this context of the Law’s preaching and the experience of our fallen condition that the Gospel enters in to bring forgiveness and comfort, and to raise us up to the new life of faith. By faith in Christ and the promises of salvation through Him, we are enabled to bear up under the curse of the fall until we are delivered from all the suffering of our fallen condition on the last day in the resurrection of the dead.