Peace Lutheran Church Sussex, Wisconsin

Congregation at Prayer

Ten Commandments— the 7th & 8th Commandments

September 16, 2018

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Catechesis Notes for the Week —Praying the Psalms: Psalm 1—This week we begin a series of commentaries on all 150 Psalms. The Psalms are prayers of faith.  Luther called them an exposition of what it means to trust in God under the First Commandment. Psalm 1 declares that the “blessed man” is the one who is rooted and anchored in God’s Word.  He does not walk in the way of the wicked or stand with sinners or sit with scoffers, which is the way of unbelief and rejection of God.  Instead, he delights in God’s Law, the Word of the Lord, and meditates upon it day and night.  The blessed man, who delights in God’s Word, is like a tree that is planted by streams of living water that will not fail to bring forth the wholesome fruits of faith. The ungodly will perish in their unbelief. But the blessed man is righteous by virtue of the gift of God’s Word that is received and believed.  Ultimately, Jesus is that Blessed Man because He delights in the Law of the Lord and He meditates upon it day and night.  This state of blessedness becomes ours for Christ’s sake through faith in the Word of the Gospel by which we are declared righteous for Jesus’ sake.CP180916

Ten Commandments— the 5th & 6th commandments

September 9, 2018

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Catechesis Notes for the Week — Sanctity of the One Flesh Union—In the Fifth Commandment, God protects His gift of life and the sanctity of human life.  In the Sixth Commandment God teaches us that this gift of life is brought into this world through the sanctity of the one flesh union in marriage.  The sexual union is both a physical and a spiritual union.  When a husband and wife come together in the physical intimacy of sexual intercourse, they are not just “having sex”; each is actually giving his or her very self to the other as an act of self-less love for the comfort and strengthening of the other.  This means that love in marriage moves out of the self to give of itself to the beloved. The question of the lover is not “what am I going to get out of this?” but “what am I going to give to the one I love?”  In marriage, there is no greater gift than to give one’s self to his spouse.  This bond is so profound, intimate, and sacred that it is called “one flesh.”  The Church should not only condemn the self-centered sins of fornication and adultery against the Sixth Commandment, but should also hold up the wonderful gift of human sexuality and how God intends it for the giving and receiving of marital love.  This is why the Catechism itself speaks in positive language about the Sixth Commandment: “We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do, and husband and wife love and honor each other.”  CP180909

Ten Commandments— the 3rd & 4th Commandment

September 2, 2018

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Catechesis Notes for the Week — Labor Day—As we give thanks to God for the work He has given us to do, we also celebrate that, for us as Christians, our work is engaged in NOT primarily for our benefit, but for the benefit of our neighbor in need. CP180902

The Ten Commandments—the 1st and 2nd Commandments

August 26, 2018

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Catechesis Notes for the Week — A New Season of Old Testament Bible Stories—The Monarchy to the Return of the Exiles: As we begin a new academic year, our Bible Stories for the family and Academy focus upon the later part of Old Testament history.  The stories of the Old Testament Monarchy through the return of the exiles emphasizes the kingdom of Christ, which is prefigured in the reign of King David and comes to its fulfillment in the New Testament Church.  The monarchy of King Saul began with the unbelief of the children of Israel who rejected the reign of their Lord and demanded a king for themselves.  King Saul’s reign personified the unfaithfulness of the entire nation of Israel who had rejected the Lord as king.  The failure of Saul’s reign demonstrated the need for a king who would be faithful to the Word of the Lord.  The monarchy of Saul was replaced by the monarchy of David, who prefigured the faithful King who was to come—Jesus Christ. The true Israel of God is not a particular people or earthly kingdom, but the household of all believers in Christ from every tribe, nation, race, and language of the earth.  The true Israel of God is Christ’s Church.  The struggle with idolatry—false faith and worship—had characterized Israel since the exodus from Egypt.  Solomon corrupted Israel with foreign gods when he marred foreign women.  Rehoboam caused civil war and division of the kingdom when he followed the idol of earthly power and wealth. Jeroboam rejected the temple worship in Jerusalem and introduced Israel to the pagan religions of the nations that surrounded her.  As the people turned further from the Word of the Lord, the Lord continued to raise up faithful prophets, like Elijah and Elisha, Isaiah and Jeremiah, to call them to repentance and renewed faith in the promise of the Gospel that He had made to Abraham. The impenitence of Israel and Judah eventually led to the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities, but God remained faithful to His covenant with Abraham and preserved a remnant who looked forward in hope to the coming of the Christ.  Men like Daniel and Ezekiel looked forward in faith to the eternal kingdom of Christ’s mercy and forgiveness that would restore the creation and make all things new. When the exiles returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple, they remembered the glory of the former temple, confessed their sins and prayed for Christ their Redeemer to come. The temple that the true Son of David would build was not made with human hands, but is “the Word made flesh”—conceived, born, crucified, and raised again for our salvation.  Of this Temple all the baptized faithful are members.  At His coming again in glory, every tongue will confess: Jesus is Lord! CP180826

Lord’s Prayer—First Petition

August 19, 2018

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Catechesis Notes for the Week —The Final Week of Summer Bible Stories—This final week of summertime Bible stories features the extended account from John 11 of the Raising of Lazarus.  This miracle teaches us much about the Christian faith and what our Lord came to do.  Jesus loved Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus.  He often stayed in their home.  They were His friends.  Yet when Jesus heard about Lazarus’ illness, He delayed His coming to Bethany until after Lazarus had been dead for four days.  Why?  Martha exclaimed, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died!”  We often feel the same way when such tragedy strikes our lives.  It is not true, yet those are the doubts we express.  In the midst of her bewilderment, Martha still confessed her faith in Jesus and the future resurrection from the dead.  This shows exactly what the Christian is like in this world.  Even though we believe in Jesus, we are often assaulted with doubts.  Jesus answered Martha’s question by clearly confessing, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, yet shall he live.  And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.”  This is what Jesus’ miracle teaches.  He not only gives salvation from sin and life from the dead, but He is life and salvation!  In the raising of Lazarus we see the restoration of fallen creation and the resurrection to immortality that awaits us all whose home and confidence is in Christ.  For us, this is of inestimable comfort in our grief. For the world, it is nonsense.  Ironically, the raising of Lazarus, which the high priest and Sanhedrin knew to be true, was the final catalyst in their resolve that Jesus must die.  Yet this, too, was God’s will, for out of the death of Jesus for sin the resurrection of the body comes forth by the power of His forgiveness.CP180819

The Lord’s Prayer — Fifth Petition

August 12, 2018

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Catechesis Notes for the Week — This week’s Bible Stories from the Gospel of John present Jesus in conflict with the Pharisees who rejected His testimony that He is the Light of the world.  Jesus’ words and works clearly testified to the Jews that He was the Christ, but they would not receive His testimony.  The Father also bore witness through the testimony of the prophets whose word Jesus fulfilled, but they rejected this testimony as well.  The two-fold witness from the Father and the Son was for the sake of faith.  When Jesus Is Confronted by the Unbelieving Jews, we see the nature of unbelief.  Unbelief is not rational.  It is sinister and diabolical.  It is spiritual blindness. It not only testifies to the power of sin to enslave the will, but it also testifies to the power of the devil whose lies and deceit have been enslaving sinners since the fall.  John chapter 8 is all about words — words that give freedom, life, and salvation, and words that bring bondage, death, and condemnation.  It is a great spiritual battle between faith and unbelief, between sight and blindness.  The Catechism teaches us that we “cannot by [our] own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, [our] Lord or come to Him.”  That is true spiritual blindness.  The Holy Spirit must call us by the Gospel.  Apart from the testimony of the Word we cannot believe, we cannot see.  Why do some believe the call of the Gospel and others do not?  Reason cannot answer this question.  We do not delve into mysteries that the Scriptures do not reveal.  Instead, we rest in what the Scriptures do teach: unbelief is at the heart of all sin; sin is clearly our fault; but faith in Christ is a miracle of God’s Word alone; and salvation is a gift of God’s grace in Christ.  To God alone be the glory!  To those who have been brought to faith in Christ, Jesus makes a clear and comforting promise: “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  This freedom from sin, death, and bondage to Satan is what was granted when the Man Born Blind Received His Sight.  In the events of this miracle we see the nature of unbelief and faith, blindness and sight.  Those who could see were really blind.  There was no repentance, no contrition, and no acknowledgement of their need for salvation.  Though they knew the man had been blind from birth and had now been given his sight by Jesus, they steadfastly and obstinately refused to believe in Him.  They were truly blind, but the man who had been blind could truly see.  He knew that he was a sinner and he believed in Jesus as his Savior.

CP180812

The 11th Sunday after Trinity

August 12, 2018

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Catechesis Notes for the Week — This week’s Bible Stories from the Gospel of John present Jesus in conflict with the Pharisees who rejected His testimony that He is the Light of the world.  Jesus’ words and works clearly testified to the Jews that He was the Christ, but they would not receive His testimony.  The Father also bore witness through the testimony of the prophets whose word Jesus fulfilled, but they rejected this testimony as well.  The two-fold witness from the Father and the Son was for the sake of faith.  When Jesus Is Confronted by the Unbelieving Jews, we see the nature of unbelief.  Unbelief is not rational.  It is sinister and diabolical.  It is spiritual blindness. It not only testifies to the power of sin to enslave the will, but it also testifies to the power of the devil whose lies and deceit have been enslaving sinners since the fall.  John chapter 8 is all about words — words that give freedom, life, and salvation, and words that bring bondage, death, and condemnation.  It is a great spiritual battle between faith and unbelief, between sight and blindness.  The Catechism teaches us that we “cannot by [our] own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, [our] Lord or come to Him.”  That is true spiritual blindness.  The Holy Spirit must call us by the Gospel.  Apart from the testimony of the Word we cannot believe, we cannot see.  Why do some believe the call of the Gospel and others do not?  Reason cannot answer this question.  We do not delve into mysteries that the Scriptures do not reveal.  Instead, we rest in what the Scriptures do teach: unbelief is at the heart of all sin; sin is clearly our fault; but faith in Christ is a miracle of God’s Word alone; and salvation is a gift of God’s grace in Christ.  To God alone be the glory!  To those who have been brought to faith in Christ, Jesus makes a clear and comforting promise: “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  This freedom from sin, death, and bondage to Satan is what was granted when the Man Born Blind Received His Sight.  In the events of this miracle we see the nature of unbelief and faith, blindness and sight.  Those who could see were really blind.  There was no repentance, no contrition, and no acknowledgement of their need for salvation.  Though they knew the man had been blind from birth and had now been given his sight by Jesus, they steadfastly and obstinately refused to believe in Him.  They were truly blind, but the man who had been blind could truly see.  He knew that he was a sinner and he believed in Jesus as his Savior.

CP180812

The Sacrament of the Altar—Who receives this sacrament worthily?

August 5, 2018

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Catechesis Notes for the Week —This Week’s Bible Stories: During Holy Week, the disciples were proud to discuss the stones and buildings of the Temple in Jerusalem. In the Destruction of the Temple Is Predicted, Jesus presents to them the sobering prediction that the Temple they would be admiring would soon be destroyed.  He uses the prediction of the Temple’s destruction and the circumstances surrounding it to prepare them and the Church for the events that will precede His Second.  There will be false prophets, false Christ’s, wars and rumors of wars, famine, pestilence, and persecution.  These are the beginnings of “birth pangs” leading up to Christ’s Second Coming, but the Gospel must first be preached to all the nations.  The Church and her ministry must never be afraid in the face of these signs to preach the Gospel of Christ, the crucified, because it is the Holy Spirit Himself who is preaching the Gospel through the Church to a fallen world.  The Great Tribulation includes not only the abomination of the Temple’s defilement by the Roman armies, but more specifically of the defilement of the greater Temple, Jesus Himself in His crucifixion.  With this in mind we can see how so many of the events surrounding the crucifixion of Our Lord will also surround the Second Coming of Christ.  “The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light.”  There was darkness from noon until 3 o’clock in the afternoon and the earth quaked when Jesus died upon the cross.  As they saw Jesus suspended between heaven and earth upon the cross, so we will see Him come again in the clouds.  The “Great Tribulation” of the events of Jesus’ Passion prepare us for the “Great Tribulation” of the later days in which the Church will suffer persecution and martyrdom, even as Jesus did.  In the face of these events, the Church is to simply live by faith in the promises of Christ alone.  Prayer and the study of God’s Word strengthen our faith to face the events of the latter days without fear.  The Lord’s Word stands sure: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.  But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.”  At the conclusion of Jesus’ catechesis on the end times from Mark’s Gospel, our Bible Stories turn to the Gospel of John and the account of the Woman Caught in Adultery.  We may not know what it was that Jesus wrote on the ground, but we do know that He stood in the breach between this woman and those who did not care for her but simply used the Law to accuse and condemn her.  Jesus did not set aside the Law and its condemning force when He forgave this woman.  He bore the full brunt of the Law’s condemnation for the sinner.  His motivations were far different from the motivations of those who simply wanted to destroy her.  Jesus was motivated by love.CP180805

The 9th Sunday after Trinity

July 29, 2018

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Catechesis Notes for the Week—This Week’s Bible Stories—This week’s Bible stories begin Jesus’ catechesis in the Temple during Holy Week.  The Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers is a parable that chronicles how the Old Testament Church repeatedly rejected the call to repentance through the word of the prophets who were sent to her.  Persecution and martyrdom were common.  The Lord would not relent from His promise, in spite of their impenitence.  Last of all He sent His only Son who was crucified.  Nevertheless, the word of the psalmist came true: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.  This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:22-23).  Render to Caesar the Things That Are Caesar’s teaches us that God rules in two different ways.  He rules the inner man in the heart, through His Word and Spirit, by repentance and faith.  He rules the outer man in the civil realm through the force of Law.  The civil authorities are to be honored, not because they have no sin or are believers, but because God promises to do His will through them.  In The Sadducees Question Jesus About the Resurrection, we learn about the theological rift between the Pharisees and Sadducees.  The Pharisees were conservative in their theology.  They believed in life after death and the resurrection of the body.  The Sadducees were liberal theologians.  They rejected both life after death and the resurrection.  The Sadducees were wrong.  This is why Jesus said to them, “You do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God…concerning the dead, that they rise, have you not read in the book of Moses…‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?  He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”  Finally, in The Greatest Commandment we learn that love for God and love for the neighbor is the summary of the entirety of God’s Law.  In Jesus’ crucifixion, which was about to take place, we see the greatest expression of this love and its fulfillment for our salvation.

CP180729

Sacrament of the Altar

July 22, 2018

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Catechesis Notes for the Week —This Week’s Bible Stories lead us into the events of Holy Week and the teaching and miracles that surrounded Jesus’ Passion. In Jesus Heals Blind Bartimaeus, Jesus teaches us that He came into the world to save the wretched and despised whose faith is nothing but a beggarly trust in His mercy.  Bartemaeus confesses Jesus to be the Messiah by continually crying out to Him: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  The “call of Jesus” is the call of the Gospel.  The words “Be of good cheer” are words of absolution.  “Your faith has made you well” means that he is saved by the faith that trusts in Christ alone.  Bartemaeus confession of faith anticipates the pilgrims who gathered on Palm Sunday.  Their cry, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!  Blessed is the kingdom of our father David…” confesses Jesus to be the Christ and their Savior.  They would learn in the days following that the salvation they confessed about Jesus would be accomplished by His suffering and death.  The Fig Tree and the Cleansing of the Temple belong together as a call to repentance and faith in the grace of God rather than human works.  The fruitless fig tree signified the impenitent works-righteous faith of Israel.  The cursing of the fig tree foretells the judgment of God against all those who would continue persistently in the impenitence of self-righteousness.  This theme is carried over in the cleansing of the Temple.  There was nothing wrong with the sacrifices that the Lord Himself had proscribed to be offered at the Temple, but their faith was entirely wrong.  Instead of seeing this Divine Service as God’s service to them as sinners, they approached the sacrifices of the Temple service as their own works rather than God’s means to reconcile unworthy sinners to Himself.  Prayer rests upon God’s promise of mercy, not our works.  Forgiveness that is undeserved, yet freely given is the basis for true worship.  The Lesson of the Fig Tree and Jesus’ Authority teaches us that at the heart of impenitence and unbelief is really a rejection of Jesus Himself as the only Savior of sinners.  Out of such impenitence and unbelief emanates the refusal to forgive.    The true worship of the Lord is described by Jesus: “Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”  Faith, salvation, and our life together in Christ is entirely dependent upon Him who came into the world to be the once and for all sacrifice for sin.

Palm Sunday—Mark 11:1-11  CP180722