Catechesis Notes for the Week— Summer Stories for the Family from the Gospel of St. Luke—This week’s stories from Luke’s Gospel conclude chapter 6 and catechize us on what it means to live by faith in the grace of God in Christ. It is precisely because we have received God’s mercy and forgiveness in Christ which we do not deserve that we live in that mercy toward our enemies and persecutors. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you” is exactly what our Lord has done for us. It is the reception of God’s grace in Christ that causes the tree to be good and which brings forth the fruits of mercy toward others. “A good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit.” The fruit of the Gospel received is the manifestation of Christ’s mercy, forgiveness, and pure doctrine for the saving benefit of others. The Church and every individual Christian rests upon the foundation of Christ and His Gospel. This is the Rock upon which we stand against every assault upon our faith and life as Christians. In chapter 7 we see the power of Christ’s forgiving Word in the stories of A Centurion’s Servant who Is Healed—“I am not worthy … but say the word, and my servant will be healed”; The Raising of the Widow of Nain’s Son—Jesus took the uncleanness of sin and death to Himself, spoke the Word of life that raised the boy from the dead, giving him back to his mother as a picture of the resurrerction and the blessed reunion we will experience in heaven; John the Baptist Sent Disciples to Jesus to confirm that He was the Messiah, and they were directed to all the words and works that Jesus performed in fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures; and at the end of chapter 7, Jesus Forgives a Sinful Woman in the house of Simon the Pharisee takes us full circle to the mercy and grace of our Lord that was at the center of Jesus’ teaching in chapter 6: “Love your enemies…”
Congregation at Prayer
June 12, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— Summer Stories for the Family from the Gospel of St. Luke—The forgiveness of sins is a major theme in the Gospel of Luke, and is highlighted in these week’s Bible stories. In Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralytic we learn that the source of all our problems, sicknesses, and death is the problem of sin. When Jesus forgave the paralytic He taught us that the source of salvation from all our problems is found in Jesus’ forgiveness. The Pharisees objected to Jesus forgiving sin, saying, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” To teach us that God had, indeed, given the authority to forgive sins to men, He said, “Rise up and walk!” The people marveled because the authority to forgive sins had been given to men (plural) and is particularly exercised for Jesus’ sake by Christ’s ministers. In Matthew the Tax Collector we see this forgiveness at work in both calling Matthew to faith in Christ and in calling Him to be an apostle of Jesus to preach that forgiveness. In Jesus’ teaching on Fasting and the Sabbath, the forgiveness of sins is the “new garment” and the “new wine” that the Bridegroom came to bring—not on the basis of works, but on the basis of the grace of God. In Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus teaches us that true Sabbath rest comes not from strict adherence to the Law as an end in itself, but in the rest that He gives through the forgiveness of sins in His name. Jesus calls the Twelve Apostles to proclaim this forgiveness on Jesus’ behalf. In the Sermon on the Plain, Jesus’ forgiveness is the fountain and source of the blessedness of the Lord proclaimed in the beatitudes and the rejection of the Lord’s forgiveness in impenitence is the reason for the pronunciation of “woe” upon those who do not believe they need His forgiveness.
June 5, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— Summer Stories for the Family from the Gospel of St. Luke—This week our summertime Bible Stories for family devotions turns to the Gospel of St. Luke. Daily reading of the Bible with your family, talking about the faith, praying and singing with your family reinforces faith in Christ and binds us together with our children and brothers and sisters in the congregation. The Baptism of Jesus marked the beginning of His ministry, anointing Him the Christ with the gift of the Holy Spirit. This action proclaimed Him the Messiah and designated Him the fulfiller of all the Old Testament promises of salvation. In the Genealogy of Jesus, His genealogy is traced back to Adam and shows Him to be true man, the Son of God in human flesh. The Temptation of Our Lord immediately follows Jesus’ baptism because He is the scapegoat who carries our sins away and He is the Second Adam, our substitute, who faced and defeated temptation from the Evil One on our behalf. As Jesus’ ministry begins, Jesus Is Rejected in Nazareth as He preaches to the citizens of His hometown that He is the fulfillment of the prophet Isaiah’s prophecy of the Christ who would proclaim freedom and liberty to the captives by the forgiveness of their sins. The Signs of the Messiah are the miracles that show the power of Jesus’ forgiveness and how the kingdom of grace and mercy that He inaugurated through His death and resurrection would bring a restoration of life with God in the resurrection on the last day. At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus Calls the Fishers of Men—His apostles—who would be taught by Him throughout His ministry and witness His preaching, miracles, death, and resurrection. They were called to be His ministers, “fishers of men,” who would call sinners to repentance and faith in Jesus, and preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Jesus Cleanses a Leper as a sign that His forgiveness cleanses us from all sin and that all the sacrifices of cleansing in the Old Testament Law are fulfilled in the sacrifice of Jesus for our sin.
Our slow walk through the Gospel of Luke this summer will be highlighted in Bible Class on Sunday morning. Because the readings are short, it should be easy for families to keep up or even catch up if the busyness of life sometimes causes us to fall behind. Sunday morning Bible Class will always anticipate the stories for the current week to aid families in their devotions at home.
May 29, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— Table of Duties—To Widows and To Everyone—When someone loses a spouse, what should they do? Whenever we lose any of God’s good gifts, the devil tempts us to fill the void with other things that not only can’t satisfy, but which may actually be sinful and a sign of mistrust of God. This is what the Scriptures refer to as “living for pleasure.” Instead, in the face of losses we are called to move even closer to Christ and His Word, putting our hope and confidence in the Lord who will fill the void of our lives with Himself. Attendance at Divine Service, catechesis, and the mutual conversation and consolation of Christian brothers and sisters is critically important. This leads us to the last section of the Table of Duties:
To Everyone: It is our common faith in Christ and the grace of God that unites us in love for one another, even as Christ loved us. The source of true fulfillment is not in living for one’s self, but in giving of ourselves to one another out of our love for Christ.
May 22, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— The Table of Duties for 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. From where does the will to “submit” and “humble one’s self” come? 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.
May 15, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— The Table of Duties: To Workers of All Kinds—How 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 derogatory. It is a term that describes the nature of His office as one who has come into the world to serve no one but others. He came to serve the Father in love and sinful man in love to the point of dying upon the cross. He had no thought for Himself or 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.” Since this is Jesus’ confession about Himself, we should not be adverse to have ourselves called slaves.
May 8, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— The Table of Duties: To Parents and Children—“It would be well to preach to parents on the nature of their office, how they should treat those committed to their authority…God does not want to have knaves or tyrants in this office and responsibility nor does he assign them this honor (that is, power and authority to govern) merely to receive homage. Parents should consider that they owe obedience to God, and that, above all, they should earnestly and faithfully discharge the duties of their office, not only to provide for the material support of their children, servants, subjects, etc., but especially to bring them up to the praise and honor of God…If we want qualified and capable men for both civil and spiritual leadership, we must spare no effort, time, and expense in teaching and educating our children to serve God and mankind. We must not think only of amassing money and property for them. God can provide for them and make them rich without our help, as indeed He does daily. But he has given and entrusted children to us with the command that we train and govern them according to His will; otherwise God would have no need of father and mother. Therefore let everybody know that it is his chief duty, on pain of losing divine grace, to bring up his children in the fear and knowledge of God, and if they are gifted to give them opportunity to learn and study so that they may be of service wherever they are needed.” (4th Commandment, Large Catechism)
May 1, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
Catechesis Notes for the Week— The Table of Duties Concerning Wives and Husbands—The passages of Holy Scripture in the Table of Duties concern the offices we have been given as Christians where our faith in Christ is lived out in this world. There is often great confusion about these two holy offices. Husbands are the head of their wives, but their headship is one of sacrificial love, teaching the Word of God, and forgiving sin. They 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. Their beauty is not in outward adornment, but in the reception of their 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 that love and trust in it.—Excerpted from Lutheran Catechesis
April 24, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
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.—Excerpted from Lutheran Catechesis, p.376
April 17, 2016Download (Adobe PDF)
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.”—Excerpted from Lutheran Catechesis, p. 374