Catechesis Notes for the Week— What the Hearers Owe Their Pastors—This section speaks of the responsibility of Christians and the Christian congregations to provide temporal support for their pastors who faithfully preach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments to them. Every Christian is called by the Gospel to “share all good things with his instructor.” It is a mockery of God when members of congregations turn a deaf ear to the Word of God and a hard heart toward the care of their pastors. Such neglect flows from impenitence and unbelief. Where there is faith there will be love, affection, and generous support of the Church’s pastors by her members. Chief among the duties of Christians is the faithful hearing of the Word of God when it is preached and taught by our pastors. Pastors receive the greatest joy in their ministry when the people of the congregation come eagerly to hear the Word of God when it is taught and receive it with joy and the hearty “Amen” of faith. The “Amen” of faith is confessed in the way in which the congregation takes care of her pastor. [Reprinted from Lutheran Catechesis: Catechist Edition]
Congregation at Prayer
March 19, 2017Download (Adobe PDF)
March 12, 2017Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— To Bishops, Pastors, and Preachers—The first set of texts in the Table of Duties concerns those who are called to preach the Word of God: To Bishops, Pastors, and Preachers. These are not three different offices, but one office. Each word describes an aspect of their work. A bishop is an overseer. He is to supervise the doctrine and life of the congregation, along with the administration of the Sacraments so that everything is taught and done according to God’s Word. “Pastor” means shepherd. The pastor “shepherds” the flock by calling to repentance, admonishing the erring, and bestowing forgiveness for Jesus’ sake to the penitent. The word “preacher” gets at the heart of the minister’s work: proclamation of the Word of God. “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” The men who are ordained to the Office of the Holy Ministry “must be above reproach” so that their lives do not obscure the preaching of the Gospel of Christ. They stand “in the stead and by the command of Christ” in the administration of Christ’s gifts; therefore, they are called to a life of holiness that is sanctified by study of the Word of God and prayer. This section of the Table of Duties not only teaches us concerning the qualifications of our ministers, but it also encourages us all to pray for our pastors that they might remain faithful in the work that God has called them to do. [Reprinted from Lutheran Catechesis: Catechist Edition]
March 5, 2017Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— Why Are Guests Asked to Speak with the Pastor before Communing?—There are two reasons why guests are asked to speak with the pastor before going to the Lord’s Supper. First, it is the responsibility of the pastor to examine the confession of faith of those who come to the altar. Our concern is that they know their sin, they trust in Christ alone for salvation, and they believe that He is giving them His body and blood for the forgiveness of sins in the Sacrament. “Worthy reception” of the Sacrament requires such faith. Second, the Lord’s Supper is not merely an individual Christian in communion with his Lord, it is also the declaration that the communicant believes and confesses the faith with the church in that place. The external teaching and confession of the church that we belong to is important because it is the external Word and sacraments that nurture and sustain that saving faith.
February 26, 2017Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week—A Pledge of the Resurrection of the Body — The Lord’s Supper was, since ancient times, called “the medicine of immortality.” In the Lord’s Supper we receive Jesus’ true body and blood. This is the same body and blood that was born of the Virgin Mary and that was given and shed for us for the forgiveness of all our sin. “Where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.” It is precisely because the body and blood of Jesus delivers to us Christ’s forgiveness, that His body and blood becomes the source of restored life with God, the resurrection of our bodies, and eternal life, incorruption, and immortality. When we receive Jesus’ true body and blood in faith, we are receiving the very pledge from our Savior that on the last day we shall be raised bodily from the dead, and our mortal flesh will put on immortality and incorruption.
February 19, 2017Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— This is My body. In the Lord’s Supper Jesus gives us His body to eat and His blood to drink. The Sacrament of the Altar rests upon the Word of God. Jesus’ words give what they say. The power and benefits of the Sacrament are given through the Word. Take away the Word and there is no Sacrament. With the Word, there is a Sacrament, namely, “the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ Himself, for us Christians to eat and to drink.” What role does faith play in the Sacrament? Faith receives what the Word says. Faith believes in what the Word gives. Faith rests upon the promises of God. The essence of the Sacrament, that is, “what it is,” is determined by the Word. This gives faith its certainty. We know we receive the body and blood of Christ for the forgiveness of all our sins, because the Word says so. Faith knows no other certainty but the promises of the Gospel.
February 12, 2017Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— Martin Luther Teaches Concerning Private Confession and Absolution: If anybody does not go to confession willingly and for the sake of absolution, let him just forget about it. Yes, and if anybody goes about relying on the purity of his confession, let him just stay away from it. We urge you, however, to confess and express your needs, not for the purpose of performing a work but to hear what God wishes to say to you. The Word of absolution, I say, is what you should concentrate on, magnifying and cherishing it as a great and wonderful treasure to be accepted with all praise and gratitude (Large Catechism, “A Brief Exhortation to Confession,” Tappert Edition).
January 29, 2017Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week—The Baptismal Life—What is the “baptismal life”? According to the catechism, Baptism has daily significance in the life of every Christian. It defines who we are: sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. But it also teaches us that we have the Old Adam, our sinful flesh, constantly about us who is an enemy of this faith. The Old Adam must be drowned and die. The New Man, Christ Himself, must rise up in us. This happens through the ministry of the Word, the preaching of repentance and the forgiveness of sins. The Old Adam is killed each time we hear the Law and say “Amen” to it: this is the sinner I am. The New Man arises in us each time we, as broken and contrite sinners, hear the Word of Absolution and believe it. When we hear that our sins are forgiven we are taken back to the central truth of our Baptism. This truth is not merely repeated as a bit of information, it is the power of God in our lives each day. This is what it means to live in our baptism daily.
January 22, 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.
January 15, 2017Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week—The Gift of Baptism for Every Day— Christians should look to their Baptism every day for their identity and strength. Our Baptism means that we are the children of God; Christ’s death for sin and His resurrection for our justification is ours; Christ’s righteousness clothes us and makes us acceptable to the Father; the Holy Spirit has been poured out into our hearts through Christ; and faith has been created in our hearts. What God has made us and given us in our Baptism also becomes the strength by which we live our lives, repent of sin, resist Satan, and enjoy the testimony of a clean conscience.