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.
Congregation at Prayer
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.
January 8, 2017Download (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.
January 1, 2017Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— The Fifth and Sixth Petitions—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 (Fifth Petition). It is by the gift of Christ’s righteousness that we are delivered from every evil (Sixth Petition). 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.
December 25, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week—“Creation and redemption are equally impossible for man to accomplish, but not for God. ‘With God nothing will be impossible,’ not even the incarnation of His Son for the salvation of His fallen world. He is the actor, the Savior, and the Lord, who descends to our human flesh and joins Himself to our weaknesses, becoming like us in every way, except without sin, so that He might take our sin to Himself. When His Word sounds forth to announce His salvation, it can only be received and believed, for it carries with it all the saving benefits it proclaims. Mary received this Word, and the life of the world was conceived in her womb. Every Christian receives this Word too, through the call of the Gospel, and it brings to us the same Christ and the same salvation who was born of Mary. Therefore, our confession of faith is the same as Mary’s, “Let it be to me according to your word.” — Excerpted from Lutheran Catechesis, p. 90, used by permission