Peace Lutheran Church Sussex, Wisconsin

Congregation at Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer— Fourth Petition

December 10, 2017

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Catechesis Notes for the Week— Repentance Is at the Heart of Advent“I’m tired of hearing talk about our sin!” This is often the response of those who hear the call to repentance.  “Sin is a downer!  Can’t we get on with something else?”  Yes, we can go on.  That’s what repentance is all about—going on, confessing sin, turning from it to Christ, finding our relief, comfort, and strength in His forgiveness.  The message of repentance is not only the knowledge of our sin, it is also the proclamation that there is nothing that Jesus hasn’t done to save you from your sin and to give you new life and freedom now!  The message of repentance always brings relief when it finds its rest in Christ, our righteousness.CP171210

The Lord’s Prayer— the 2nd and 3rd Petitions

December 3, 2017

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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!”CP171203

The Lord’s Prayer—the Introduction and First Petition

November 26, 2017

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Catechesis Notes for the Week— Preserved in the Faith Until the Coming of Our Lord—There are so many attacks upon our faith in Christ that it can be frightening to the Christian.  Our flesh has the natural inclination that fights against the Spirit of God.  The world has teachings and philosophies that appeal to the appetites of our flesh, and the devil is in league with both to tempt us to deny Christ and look elsewhere for a sense of peace and well-being.  How will we be preserved in the faith in these latter days when there are so many threats to us and our children?  We are preserved by continuing in the ordinary gifts of our Lord by which our faith has been created in the first place.  The early Christians lived in a world in which Christianity was illegal; they were discriminated against and persecuted.  It was culturally acceptable to deny Christ and live according to the covetous desires of the flesh.  Becoming a Christian put one at a decided disadvantage in the society.  Into this backdrop the Apostle Paul speaks to his catechumen and young pastor colleague these simple words: “Continue in the things that you have learned and become convinced of…. From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:14-15).  Our faith and salvation is given and sustained by the ordinary preaching and teaching of the Holy Scriptures.  There is no substitute for the power of the Holy Scriptures to create, sustain, and protect us in our faith against every attack.

The Lord’s Prayer — The Introduction and the 1st Petition

November 19, 2017

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Catechesis Notes for the Week— Thanksgiving: The Christian Understanding—Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in our country. It dates back to the Pilgrims who gave thanks for having made it through a brutal winter to a fertile spring and an abundant fall harvest. The history of national thanksgiving begs the question, “What if life had gotten worse for the pilgrims?” For the world, thanksgiving is based upon whether or not people have gotten something in their lives that they deem “good” and therefore worthy of thanksgiving. For the Christian, thanksgiving is exactly the opposite. Christian thanksgiving is rooted in the faith that receives all things from God, whether good or bad, because he is God. Because of Christ’s death we understand that everything God does or allows to come into our lives, even if it causes us great pain and suffering, is ultimately for our good. God’s greatest good is to preserve us steadfast in the Word and faith of our Savior until we die. This He promises to accomplish for us particularly in the midst of hardship and suffering. God accomplished His greatest good in the midst of what appeared to be the most heinous evil: the crucifixion of an innocent man. With the cross of Christ in view, we give thanks for all things, especially the hardship, suffering, and crosses of life, that through these we might be given occasion to rely upon our Savior alone.

The Creed— the Third Article

November 12, 2017

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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.CP171112

The Creed— the Third Article

November 5, 2017

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Catechesis Notes for the Week— The Third Article of the Creed—This week’s Bible Verse for memorization and meditation focuses our attention on what is the very heart of the Holy Spirit’s work: to testify of Jesus. The Third person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is the Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son to give life and salvation to us in Christ. How does He give testimony to Jesus? By the preaching of the Gospel, Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution, and the Holy Communion. By the Words of the New Testament in the blood of Christ, the Holy Spirit bears witness to our spirits that Jesus is Christ our Savior that we might believe in Him. By these same gifts He, the Holy Spirit, enlightens our hearts, minds, and lives to live from and in the freedom of Christ’s forgiveness. By these same gifts, the Holy Spirit brings Christ into our hearts and brings forth Christ in our lives in love toward others which is the fruit of faith. The Holy Spirit never shines upon Himself, He is always shining upon Christ. We should think of it this way: it is the Holy Spirit who preaches the Gospel, baptizes, forgives sins, and gives us to eat of Christ’s body and blood. It is the Holy Spirit who does all of these things, that our faith and life might be fixed firmly in Christ. That is the Holy Spirit’s work, as Jesus said, “When the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.”CP171105

The Creed— the Second Article

October 29, 2017

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Catechesis Notes for the Week— This week we celebrate the Reformation and All Saints’ Day. These two feasts appropriately go together. Reformation celebrates the recovery of the Gospel, that sinners are justified (declared righteous) by grace alone, through faith, for Christ’s sake. This justification is what makes all saints “saints.” They are clothed with the righteousness of Christ. This is the teaching of the epistle for Reformation: “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God…Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the Law.”CP171029

The Creed— The 2nd Article

October 22, 2017

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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.CP171022

The Creed—The First Article

October 15, 2017

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Catechesis Notes for the Week— The First Article of the Creed — The Scriptural account 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.CP171015

The Creed— The First Article

October 8, 2017

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Catechesis Notes for the Week—The First Article of the Creed — “All that I am and all that I have comes from God. Apart from Him I am and have nothing.” These assertions are central to the Christian teaching concerning God. They declare that we, and all of creation, are completely dependent upon Him. Even when we abuse the life and gifts that He has given, we do so by His power in us. This is what makes such evil all the more blasphemous! Martin Luther’s Creedal Hymn confesses both our dependence upon God and His love for us that motivates Him to create, provide, protect, and defend us. “We all believe in one true God, who created earth and heaven, The Father who to us in love has the right of children given. He in soul and body feeds us; All we need His hand provides us; Through all snares and perils leads us, Watching that no harm betide us.  He cares for us by day and night; All things are governed by His might.” The Catechism helps us to understand that what He has made and given is ALWAYS good, even if our sinful human reason might not think so and might even rebel against such gifts. There is great freedom in the gift of faith that accepts the truths of the First Article. All Christians, the deaf, the blind, and the lame, still confess that God has made them, including their “eyes, ears, and all their members,” even if they don’t work the way they want them to work. God’s created gifts are given AS THEY ARE, that we might learn to trust in Him through these gifts, extolling Him alone as God and relying upon His grace in our weakness.CP171008