Peace Lutheran Church Sussex, Wisconsin

Congregation at Prayer

The Sacrament of Holy Baptism—Part III

June 18, 2017

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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.

The Sacrament of Holy Baptism

June 11, 2017

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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.

The Third Article of the Creed

June 4, 2017

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Catechesis Notes for the Week—The Third Article of the Creed—“Neither you nor I could ever know anything of Christ, or believe in him and take him as our Lord, unless these were first offered to us and bestowed on our hearts through the preaching of the Gospel by the Holy Spirit. The work is finished and completed; Christ has acquired and won the treasure for us by his sufferings, death, and resurrection, etc. But if the work had remained hidden and no one knew of it, it would have been all in vain, all lost. In order that this treasure might not be buried but put to use and enjoyed, God has caused the Word to be published and proclaimed, in which he has given the Holy Spirit to offer and apply to us this treasure of salvation. Therefore to sanctify is nothing else than to bring us to the Lord Christ to receive this blessing, which we could not obtain by ourselves…Further we believe that in this Christian church we have the forgiveness of sins, which is granted through the holy sacraments and absolution as well as through all the comforting words of the entire Gospel. Toward forgiveness is directed everything that is to be preached concerning the sacraments and, in short, the entire Gospel and all the duties of Christianity. Forgiveness is needed constantly, for although God’s grace has been won by Christ, and holiness has been wrought by the Holy Spirit through God’s Word in the unity of the Christian church, yet because we are encumbered with our flesh we are never without sin.” The Large Catechism, Third Article

The Table of Duties — To Widows; To Everyone

May 28, 2017

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The Table of Duties— To Employers and Supervisors; To Youth

May 21, 2017

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Catechesis Notes for the Week—To Employers and Supervisors—Christian employers and supervisors are also to be governed in their work by their faith in the Gospel.  This is the meaning of the phrase “in the same way.”  In the same way that workers are led by their faith in the Gospel to be faithful in their work, employers and supervisors are to be led by the Gospel in their conduct toward their workers.  A Christian employer is not to threaten, coerce, or abuse his workers.  This does not mean that a Christian employer has to put up with laziness or shoddy workmanship from his employees.  Faith in God’s grace and forgiveness does not mean tolerating sin, malfeasance, or neglect of one’s duties.  Faith in God’s grace and forgiveness means that the Christian employer administers his office within the secular kingdom fairly, impartially, and for the welfare of his other employees and customers.  If a worker requires discipline or needs to be fired because of failures in the workplace, such actions are not taken out of vengeance but with the understanding that Christ is the “Master” of both the employer and the employee and “there is no favoritism with Him.”  A worker who is derelict in his duties must be disciplined or removed from his work, not primarily because he is stealing from his employer (which he is), but because his failures hinder the capacity of his employer to serve others in love with the services and work his business provides.

To Youth—“Submission” and “humility” are not terms that any of us naturally gravitate toward. The sinful flesh wants to submit to no one and is filled with arrogance and pride. If the sinful flesh doesn’t get its way, it rebels. Where does the will to “submit” and “humble one’s self” come from? It comes from faith in the Gospel. Our Lord Jesus submitted Himself as a young man, because He trusted in His Father who promised to do good through His submission. He humbled Himself to the point of death on the cross because, He trusted His Father to do good through His suffering. When youth are admonished to submit to their elders and humble themselves before them, they are really being invited to trust God to do them good in their office as youth, even though they may have to endure things that they don’t agree with or enjoy. The way of faith is always the way of deference toward others. This we learn to believe through the faithful reception of the Gospel and Sacrament of our Lord.  [Reprinted from Lutheran Catechesis: Catechist Edition]

The Table of Duties— To Workers of All Kinds

May 14, 2017

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Catechesis Notes for the Week—To Workers of All KindsHow many employees or workers would call themselves “slaves”? Not too many. If one did consider himself a slave, it would not be a complimentary term. Yet “slave” is a term that is often used in the New Testament of our Lord. For Him it is not demeaning. It is a term that describes the nature of His office as one who has come into the world to serve not Himself but others. He came to serve both the Father in love and sinful man in love to the point of dying upon the cross. He had no thought for Himself or for His own protection or welfare. He is the ultimate “worker,” and in His work we see the true nature of Christian work. We “work” as Christians, not to serve ourselves, but to serve others in love. The characteristic of our work is that it is done for others, even if they do not appreciate it. Selfless love is what motivated Jesus, and it is that love to which we are called by faith in the Gospel.  Jesus’ selfless love and service to us is reflected in His own words: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Since this is Jesus’ confession about Himself, we should not be adverse to having ourselves called slaves. [Reprinted from Lutheran Catechesis: Catechist Edition]

The Table of Duties— To Parents; To Children

May 7, 2017

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Catechesis Notes for the Week—To Parents—The passage cited for parents in the Table of Duties addresses itself explicitly to “fathers” not because mothers are excluded from this admonition, but to underscore the spiritual headship of the Christian father in the home and family.  Ever since the fall into sin there has been a natural tendency for men to abdicate their responsibility to teach the Word of God to their wives and children.  This passage makes it clear that there is no greater responsibility for a Christian father than the passing on of the Christian faith to his children.  His wife is a “co-regent” in this important work of bringing up the children “in the training and instruction of the Lord.”  The admonition against “exasperating” or “provoking the children to wrath” is a warning to Christian parents that they are not to allow the law to predominate in the rearing of their children, lest their children become embittered or despair of their parents’ love.  As important as the law is in maintaining discipline, for Christian parents it is never an end in itself.  They use the law’s admonition also for the sake of the Gospel, that they might bring about repentance and faith in God’s mercy.  Just as the Gospel must predominate in the Church’s preaching, so the Gospel, forgiveness, and mercy must predominate in the home.  Law and discipline must be administered dispassionately and objectively without the rancor of bitterness.  The law is administered for maintaining order and, as God grants it, for repentance for sin.  Even in the administration of discipline and punishment in the home, the Christian father and mother are called to minister the law in love and for the sake of the Gospel.  Baptized Christian children, as sinful as they may be, must never be told that they must earn their parents’ love or that they are hated or despised by their parents because of their failings.  Christian parents are called to love their sinful children in the same way that God loves us in Christ.

To Children—Christian children are called to honor and obey their parents under the Fourth Commandment, whether their parents are Christians or not.  Obedience and honor are not reserved for parents who always do the right thing or who have “earned” the respect of their children.  The Gospel teaches us to honor our parents especially when they do not deserve such honor, because this is what God has done for us in Christ.  Jesus was obedient and submissive to His sinful parents, Mary and Joseph, not because they deserved it, but because of the office that they had been given by God and because of God’s command and promise attached to their office.  Through His obedience to His parents and every earthly authority instituted among men, Jesus not only won our salvation from all sin, but also provided to us the gift of His grace that enables us to be faithful as His children and “to enjoy long life on the earth.”  To “obey your parents in the Lord” underscores that, for Christian children, it is precisely our faith in the Lord Jesus that governs our honor and obedience toward our sinful parents.  [Reprinted from Lutheran Catechesis: Catechist Edition]

The Table of Duties— To Wives

April 30, 2017

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Catechesis Notes for the Week—To Wives— The office of wife was established by God in the creation of mankind and the institution of marriage.  A wife is a woman, united in love to her husband in marriage, who receives life from her husband and nurtures that life as a mother in the procreation of children who are to be brought up in the “training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).  The Bible passages in the Table of Duties address themselves to the calling we have been given as Christians where our faith in Christ is lived out in this world.  But there is often great confusion about these two holy offices in marriage.  The husband is indeed the head of the wife, but his headship is one of loving sacrificially, teaching the Word of God, and forgiving sin.  Husbands are to be considerate of their wives who are placed in an office that requires them to submit to their husbands.  Husbands are not to lord their authority over their wives; this is always a temptation for any Christian husband.  Wives are to understand that their office of submission is patterned after Christ’s bride, the Church.  They are to expect their husbands to love them, teach them, and forgive them.  The wife’s beauty is not in outward adornment, but in the reception of her husband’s love.  “This is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.  They were submissive to their own husbands ….”  It is a “beautiful” and blessed thing when husbands love their wives as Christ loved the Church and when wives receive the love of their husbands and trust in it.  [Reprinted from Lutheran Catechesis: Catechist Edition]

The Table of Duties— To Husbands

April 23, 2017

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Catechesis Notes for the Week—To Husbands— Chief among the offices that God has established in the creation of man are the offices of husband and wife.  A husband is a man, joined in love to his wife in marriage, who cares for her and “cultivates” life with her in the procreation of children.  When the Apostle Peter directs, “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers,” he is reminding husbands that their wives have been given an office by God that places them in a subordinate position to them. It would be very easy for the husband, corrupted by the sinful flesh as he is, to take advantage of his headship and the wife’s position of subordination to him. He is to “be considerate” of the position that God gave her and be husband to her in selfless love. Although they are not both in the same office, they are, nevertheless, equal “heirs of the gracious gift of life” in Christ Jesus. If he does not believe that, then his prayers, which include the ministration of his office as a husband, will be “hindered.” The essential disposition of the husband to the wife is contained in the passage from Colossians: “Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” Here the husband’s office is depicted as the office of Christ who cares for His bride the Church, as it is also in Ephesians 5:22-33. Christ loves His bride by laying down His life for her and by covering her sins with His blood. He is never harsh with her who is “bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh, but nourishes and cares for her as His own body.” The office of husband finds its identity in Christ, the Church’s Bridegroom. [Reprinted from Lutheran Catechesis: Catechist Edition]

The Creed— The 3rd Article

April 16, 2017

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Catechesis Notes for the Week—The Holy Spirit and the Resurrection of Our Lord—During this week of the celebration of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we also meditate upon the Third Article of the Creed.  It is the Holy Spirit who brings Jesus’ victory over death to us through the sweet message of the forgiveness of sins.  By this Word, sins are forgiven, faith is created, and we are raised up by the Spirit of God to walk in newness of life.  Jesus gave up the Holy Spirit when He died upon the cross and in the upper room He breathed the Holy Spirit upon the disciples when He said, “Peace be with You!”  The message of Jesus’ peace and forgiveness is the message of the Holy Spirit by which we are continually renewed in faith and life.  This same Holy Spirit will raise us from the dead, with Jesus, on the Last Day.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, through the Word and Sacraments of Christ we will forever enjoy the resurrection of the body and the life-everlasting.