Peace Lutheran Church Sussex, Wisconsin

Congregation at Prayer

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.

The Table of Duties—Of Citizens

April 9, 2017

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Catechesis Notes for the Week— Of Citizens—This section of the Table of Duties teaches us that citizens are not only to honor the civil government, but they are also to participate fully in the society. Christians, governed by the Word of God, their faith in Christ, and their understanding of the distinction between the two kingdoms, are encouraged to participate in civic discourse, run for public office, serve in the military, and volunteer in the community. Their faith in Christ manifests itself in acts of charity and mercy for the temporal support of their neighbors in need. In addition to paying taxes and obeying the laws of the land, Christians are called to pray for their rulers, participate in the general welfare of the nation, and “to be ready to do whatever is good.” [Reprinted from Lutheran Catechesis: Catechist Edition]

The Table of Duties—Of Civil Government

April 2, 2017

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Catechesis Notes for the Week— Of Civil Government—We are reminded of the important role of the civil government in the secular kingdom every time we confess in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds that Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate. The phrase “under Pontius Pilate” means “under God” because the governing authorities have been instituted by God. God works His will through them, even when they be evil. This requires faith in the Lord who promises to work His will, even though we may not understand why or how He will do it. Jesus submitted Himself to the governing authorities in His Passion. Although these authorities were evil and unbelieving, God accomplished His will through the administration of their office. Though Pilate did not believe in Christ, he nevertheless spoke on God’s behalf when he declared Jesus to be the innocent King of the Jews, and when he sentenced Jesus to death by crucifixion. Our salvation was won for us when the Son submitted Himself to the judgment of the Roman governor in the secular kingdom. Every time we confess that Jesus was “crucified under Pontius Pilate,” we should be reminded and strengthened by this to live faithfully under the civil authorities. [Reprinted from Lutheran Catechesis: Catechist Edition]

The Table of Duties—What Hearers Owe Their Pastors (second half)

March 26, 2017

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Catechesis Notes for the Week— What the Hearers Owe Their PastorsThe second half of this section of the Table of Duties highlights the respect and honor pastors are to receive because of the work God has given them to do. They are called to preach the Gospel, judge doctrine, administer the Sacraments, remit and retain sin, and guard the flock from the assaults of false doctrine and impenitence. They are accountable to God for being faithful to what He has called them to do. “Hearers of God’s Word” are to respect and honor their pastors, not because they have no sin or short-comings, but because of their office and their faithfulness in the work that they are called to do on the Lord’s behalf. [Reprinted from Lutheran Catechesis: Catechist Edition]

The Table of Duties—What the Hearers Owe Their Pastors (First Half)

March 19, 2017

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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]