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. This week’s Bible verse teaches us the wonderful doctrine of the incarnation of the Son of God—the eternal Word of the Father. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Christ’s glory is beheld in His willingness to “tabernacle among us” in human flesh, just like ours, and to suffer on our behalf for our salvation.
Congregation at Prayer
October 9, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— The First Article of the Creed and the Historical Account of Creation in Genesis — The Bible verse for this week teaches us that all of creation came into existence by the Word of God and that apart from God’s Word nothing exists. The stories 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.
September 30, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
September 24, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
September 18, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— The Seventh and Eighth Commandments—In the Seventh Commandment, “You shall not steal,” God wishes to protect His gift of property. Christians have a unique perspective on temporal goods. We are given our property that we might use it for the benefit of others. The Catechism declares that we are to help our neighbor “to improve and protect his possessions and income.” This is a concrete expression of love. In the Eighth Commandment, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor,” God wishes to protect the gift of a good name and reputation. We are not only called to speak the truth in love to our neighbor and for our neighbor’s benefit, but we are also called to use our tongue to cover the sin and shame of others. We are called to “defend [our neighbor], speak well of him, and explain everything [about him] in the kindest way.” The Bible Stories for the week highlight these two commandments. When Abram gave Lot the choice of the land, he demonstrated his faith in God’s promise to care for Him according to the Gospel, and he lived in generous love toward his nephew Lot. When Zacchaeus was brought to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus, the selfishness of his heart was transformed and he restored all that he had stolen from others by repaying fourfold what he had taken. In the story of Zacchaeus we see the power of the Gospel of God’s generous love in Christ transforming a sinner’s heart. When Jesus instructs us to “Bless those who curse us” He is articulating how faith in His undeserved forgiveness and love manifests itself in the way we speak about and pray for others. Mercy and undeserved loving kindness seasons our speech. Ultimately, the Law of Love is only fulfilled in Jesus. Jesus prays for His enemies who had hated Him and nailed Him to the cross. Since Jesus’ speech was so seasoned with the sweet Gospel of God’s undeserved loving kindness, how much more should we put the best construction on our neighbor’s actions and speak well of those who have sinned against us. This week’s verse is a portion of Jesus’ catechesis on the Eighth Commandment in which He instructs us that our speech should be governed by the truth of God’s Word, anything other than this is of the devil: “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.”
September 11, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— The Fifth and Sixth Commandments—In the Second Table of the Law we see especially the gifts of creation that God wishes to protect and through which He brings many blessings to us. The Fifth Commandment, “You shall not murder,” teaches us that human life is sacred. After the Flood, God instituted capital punishment for murder precisely because man was made in the image of God (Genesis 9:5-7). By the Fifth Commandment God wishes to protect human life. Inflicting physical harm upon someone, abortion and euthanasia, as well as hatred and grudge-bearing, are all forms of murder forbidden under the Fifth Commandment. The Sixth Commandment, “You shall not commit adultery,” teaches us that marriage and sexuality are gifts of God to be used and enjoyed in the way that God created them. According to God’s Word, marriage is only between one man and one woman for life. Sexuality is a gift of God that is to be used for the most intimate expression of love within the one flesh union of marriage and for the procreation of children. All forms of adultery, homosexuality, and divorce are forbidden under the Sixth Commandments. The sanctity of human life and marriage is taught by Jesus in this week’s Bible Verse. The Fifth and Sixth Commandments not only forbid murder and adultery, but they also teach how love is expressed according to these commandments. We are called to “help and be of service to our neighbor in every physical need” and “to lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do,” loving the spouse that God has given us in marriage. The Bible Stories for the week correspond to the Fifth and Sixth Commandments. Cain murders his brother Abel because his faith was not in the Lord’s grace but rather centered in his own works and his self-righteous attitude toward them. The Good Samaritan, as a picture of our Lord, loves and cares for the one who is His enemy, thereby fulfilling the Law of love. In Joseph fleeing from adultery, we see the Spirit of Christ that flees from every temptation to indulge the flesh in those things that God has not given. Even though Joseph did the right thing when he ran from Potiphar’s wife, he suffered for it; nevertheless, the Lord was with him and blessed him through his suffering and self-denial. In Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, He rebukes Satan and conquers his temptations with the only weapon any of us have: the Word of God.
September 4, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week—Labor Day—As we pray this week during our country’s observance of Labor Day, we are reminded that as Christians we see our life’s work as the means by which we serve our neighbor in love. The work that God has called us to is not principally for our own benefit, but for the benefit of our neighbor. God loves, cares for, provides and helps others through the service of Christians who live faithfully in their vocations. The strength to be faithful in our daily work comes from the Lord’s forgiving Word, and by our work for others we reflect and confess our Savior whose work brought the gift of salvation to all people.
August 28, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week—Praying through the Catechism—As we begin another year of meditation upon the Catechism, prayers will be included on the assigned Catechism sections each week in the Congregation at Prayer. These prayers will assist you in your family prayer and individual devotions at home. We learn best how to pray and meditate upon the Catechism by actually praying according to what the Catechism teaches us. In addition to these prayers and use of the Congregation at Prayer, we encourage individuals and families to obtain copies of the Lutheran Service Book hymnal for use in the home. Reading Scripture together, reciting the Catechism, learning by heart verses of Scripture, singing and praying with the hymnal is among the foremost ways in which we are preserved in the Christian faith and pass on our faith to our children.
August 21, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— Jesus’ Catechesis on the End Times (Summer Stories from the Gospel of St. Luke)—Our summertime stories from Luke’s Gospel conclude this week. The Life of the Church after Jesus’ Ascension could well summarize the general theme of this concluding set of Bible stories. In Render to Caesar the Things that Are Caesar’s Jesus teaches us that civil government has not been abolished by the Gospel, but that the Christian exists in both the temporal and spiritual kingdoms. Before God we live by faith in Christ and in love toward the neighbor. Before the civil authorities we give all due honor, respect and obedience in so far as this does not violate our faith in Christ or the Word of God. In the story of the Sadducees Question Jesus about the Resurrection we learn that false doctrine is nothing new. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection or of life after death, even though they claimed to be faithful believers. Jesus counters their false teaching by referring to the Old Testament patriarchs as though they are alive, because, indeed, they are alive and are awaiting the resurrection on the last day. In the Widow’s Two Mites Jesus underscores the teaching that everything that a Christian has ultimately comes from God and is a gift over which the Christian is but a steward. The widow confesses this faith by placing all of her money into the Temple treasury. In the Signs of the End Jesus describes the very things that we have been experiencing since His ascension: the proliferation of false doctrine, the ever-present reality of warfare among the nations, earthquakes, famine, and pestilence of every kind. Finally, he predicts the rise of persecution for the name of Jesus. All of this will continue in the world until Jesus comes again in glory, therefore, we should not be discouraged but rather “look up” in vigil until our Lord’s return. The last two stories for the summer are linked together and speak a word of warning against impenitence and unbelief. The prediction of the Destruction of Jerusalem and Signs of Christ’s Second Coming not only teach us that God’s judgment would fall upon Jerusalem for their rejection of Christ, but that this judgment was to serve as an ongoing call to repentance and faith in Christ and to prepare the Church for Jesus’ Second Coming in glory. The Parable of the Fig Tree is an illustration of all these end time predictions. As we see these things taking place we (His Church) should not be discouraged, but rather be encouraged that the Lord’s Word is true and that He will sustain and preserve His Church to the end of time.