Peace Lutheran Church Sussex, Wisconsin

Congregation at Prayer

The Third Article of the Creed

May 31, 2020

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Catechesis Notes for the Week —The Feast of Pentecost celebrates the person and work of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son and with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified as God and Lord.  The Holy Spirit is sometimes called the Spirit of love for it is by the Spirit that we are drawn into the fellowship of the love of the Holy Trinity.  The Holy Spirit is always the Spirit of Christ who shines upon the person and work of our Savior, calls us to repentance and faith, and bestows upon us every blessing that Jesus won for us.  The Spirit’s means or instruments by which He does His work are the Gospel and Sacraments of Christ.

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  CP200531

Table of Duties — To Widows; To Everyone

May 24, 2020

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Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 79—A Prayer When the Lord Allows Enemies to Invade His Kingdom—Psalm 79 is a lament from God’s people who have been suffering under the oppression of an unbelieving people who invaded the kingdom of Judah. It is important to note that this “invasion” was God’s judgment against Jerusalem. Foreign nations have come into the inheritance of the Lord, not as converts to the faith, but as those who came to destroy. “Your holy temple they have defiled; they have laid Jerusalem in heaps.” It is difficult, at times, to grasp that God actually uses His enemies to do His bidding.  In this case, He raised up foreign powers to visit His judgment against His Old Testament Church as a call to repentance.  This is why Psalm 79 includes a corporate confession of sins: “Oh, do not remember former iniquities against us! Let Your tender mercies come speedily to meet us, for we have been brought very low. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Your name; and deliver us, and provide atonement for our sins, for Your name’s sake!”  The New Testament Church often finds herself in the same situation. The culture is against the Church. False doctrine threatens the Gospel. Foreign powers try to silence the Church’s witness. We suffer oppression in various forms. Against the backdrop of all of this, we cry out with the psalmist: “How long, Lord? Will You be angry forever?” In the end, it is not the Lord’s intention to destroy, no matter how intense His judgment may get. Instead, it is His intention to save and rescue. So we pray with the psalmist: “We, Your people and sheep of Your pasture, will give You thanks forever; We will show forth Your praise to all generations.” CP200524

Table of Duties — To Employers and Supervisors; To Youth

May 17, 2020

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Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 78:52-72—The Faithfulness of the Lord in Shepherding His Flock—The final section of Psalm 78 emphasizes the image of the Old Testament Church as a flock that is faithfully guided and cared for by the Lord, like a shepherd who tends his flock.  The pattern of the Children of Israel rebelling against the Lord continues in this final section of the psalm. It rehearses more of Israel’s history—from their sojourn to the Mountain of the Lord to receive the Lord’s testimony, to the Lord’s conquest of the land of Canaan on their behalf, to His election of the tribe of Judah and the selection of David to be their king and a type of Christ, the Lord was faithful to them. Like a flock that ran away from its shepherd and wandered into danger, the children of Israel continued their pattern of rebellion. Nevertheless, the Lord was their faithful Shepherd. Though “they tested and provoked the Most High God, and did not keep His testimonies, but turned and acted unfaithfully like their fathers,” yet the Lord disciplined and chastened them to bring about their repentance and return to His salvation.  The Lord chose David to be their king, “to shepherd Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance.” David became a prophetic picture of Christ, the Good Shepherd, who would lay down His life to save the rebellious flock. “So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.”  CP200517

Table of Duties — To Workers of All Kinds

May 10, 2020

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Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 78:25-52—A Prayer Remembering the Longsuffering Mercy of God for Rebels—The next section of Psalm 78 rehearses the pattern of the Lord’s mercy toward the children of Israel in spite of their ongoing backsliding and rebellion. The meat they demanded from the Lord in the wilderness did not satisfy them, because they did not receive it in faith and thanksgiving. When they turned from Him, He visited them in wrath to bring them to repentance. When they were repentant, He rescued them. Nevertheless, they continued the pattern of rebelling against Him again and again.  When they returned to Him, “He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and did not destroy them… He remembered that they were but flesh [sinful and unclean], a breath that passes away and does not come again.” When the Lord sent plagues of judgment upon the Egyptians, they witnessed how they enjoyed God’s favor as the Children of Israel, yet it so often seemed to make no difference to them. Psalm 78 stands as a witness to us of God’s overwhelming grace to the people He called by His name.  The example of Israel’s perpetual backsliding serves as a warning to us against the desire of our own flesh to drag us away from the Lord. Nevertheless, Psalm 78 is also a clear witness to salvation by grace and that the Lord will never forsake His people: “He destroyed all the firstborn in Egypt… But He made His own people go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.” CP200510

Table of Duties — To Parents and Children

May 3, 2020

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Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 78:1-25—Prayer to Understand the Lord’s Parable and Dark Sayings—What a mystery the Gospel is! In response to our rebellion and fighting against God, He gives us His Son to bear the wrath that we deserve! This is the “parable” and the “dark sayings of old” of which the Psalm of Asaph speaks. The mystery of the Gospel of God’s love goes all the way back into the Old Testament and the Lord’s dealings with the children of Israel. He redeemed them from slavery and was faithful to them, despite their rebellion against Him.  Psalm 78 calls us to remember the Lord’s faithfulness in His gracious and saving acts for the rebellious children of Israel, so that we might tell our children and succeeding generations the “mystery of His love.” We recite the history of the Lord’s salvation for His people, so that we do not forget and so that we live in humble repentance and faith. We are called to see the example of His faithfulness to Israel, so that we do not forget His works or turn away from His Word as they did. It is the Lord who delivered them through the Red Sea, led them by the glory cloud, fed them with manna from heaven, and gave them to drink water from the Rock! He was faithful to them, especially when they rebelled against Him, even though they were faithless. These are the “dark or hard sayings.” They kindled His wrath, but He answered them with mercy by striking the Rock to quench their thirst. Is this not the mystery of the Gospel? We deserve His wrath for our rebellion, yet He strikes His own Son upon the cross instead of us, giving us to eat of His body and to drink of His blood for our salvation. No wonder the psalmist says that we are to make this known to our children and to tell it to the generation to come, that they also might know the mystery of God’s love and faithfulness. CP200503

Table of Duties — To Wives

April 26, 2020

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Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 77—A Prayer to Remember God’s Mercy and Faithfulness—Psalm 77 grapples with one of the most troubling set of questions for a Christian, “Will the Lord cast me off? Will He stop being favorable to me? Will His love and mercy for me cease?” We find ourselves in this situation when the adversity of life bears down upon us and we do not see an end to it. We find ourselves in this situation because our flesh is weak, and we are attacked by the world and the voices of unbelief. How often do we lie awake in the night worrying and wrestling with problems that we do not know how to solve? So the psalmist prays, “In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing; My soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled; I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed.” It can seem, even for the believer, as if God is deaf to our prayers and silent to answer our cries. Finally, the psalmist calls us to remember the Lord’s faithfulness and His dealings for His people in ancient times. Though His help, at times, seemed to be delayed or that it would never come, He remembered His people and acted for their benefit according to the promises of His mercy. “Has His promise failed forevermore? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? And I said, ‘This is my anguish; But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High.’ I will remember the works of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.” Every Christian needs to be reminded of the faithfulness of the Lord and how He never forsook those who trusted in Him. The foundation of this remembrance is the faithfulness that He displayed in the suffering and death of the cross. In His suffering and death, He restored life with God. Though we may suffer, He will not forsake His flock. CP200426

Table of Duties — To Husbands

April 19, 2020

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Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 76—The Church’s Prayer of Confidence in God—Psalm 76 is a psalm of Asaph, one of the cantors who led the liturgy of the Tabernacle. The psalm confesses that God is in His Church for the protection of His people and for judgment against those who oppose Him.  The power, strength, and assaults of the enemies of God are no match for Him.  His abode is clearly established.  He is in His Church.  He is majestic.  At His rebuke, His enemies are defeated, and the humble believer is rescued.  How can the wrath of man praise God? The wrath of man praises God when His Word is demonstrated to be true as the unbelieving enemies of God fight against the truth of God just as He said they would. Because God is faithful to His people and they entrust themselves to Him, they confess the faith by making vows of faithfulness to Him who is faithful to them.  God’s faithfulness to us is the strength of our fidelity and faithfulness to Him. CP200419

Creed — the 3rd Article

April 12, 2020

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Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 16— The Messiah’s Prayer for Strength—All the psalms are prayed through faith in Jesus Christ and His victory for us.  Psalm 16 is no exception.  The words of this psalm belong in the mouth of Jesus.  Peter makes this clear in his Pentecost sermon.  This psalm was Jesus’ prayer as He faced the horror of the cross and death: “Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust…You are my Lord, My goodness is nothing apart from You!”  For Jesus’ sake, this becomes our prayer as well.  Even in the agony of His death upon the cross, Jesus confessed confidence in His Father who would raise Him from the dead and not allow Him to see corruption: “I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at My right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore, My heart is glad, and My glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave My soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.”  Because of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice upon the cross which the Father accepted, Jesus’ body did not undergo decay and it was impossible for death to hold Him.  The Father raised His faithful Son from the dead and for Jesus’ sake the Father will raise us to life immortal.  This is our hope and confidence in Christ: “In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” CP200412

Table of Duties — Of Citizens

April 5, 2020

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Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 118—The Passover Psalm—The liturgy of the Old Testament Passover took place around the family table.  The Passover feast included the telling of the story of the Lord’s mighty act of redemption for Israel through the blood of the Passover Lamb.  Children were to ask questions, “What is the meaning of this night, of this meal, of the bitter herbs and spices, etc.?”  The head of the family would answer the questions and faithfully lead the family in remembering all that God had done to deliver them from slavery.  Psalm 118 was central to their prayers.  It begins with one of the most repeated antiphons in the psalms: “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! Because His mercy endures forever.”  The goodness and mercy of God that redeemed Israel from slavery came to fulfillment in Jesus’ suffering and death upon the cross.  The pilgrims on Palm Sunday applied the language of the Passover psalm to Jesus: “Hosanna to the Son of David. Save now, I pray, O Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”  To be sure, they did not realize that He would suffer and die on Good Friday.  But by applying the words of the Passover psalm to Him, they identified Him as the Messiah and that the sacrifice of His body and blood upon the cross was His destiny.  This psalm has long enjoyed a prominent place in the Church’s liturgy.  It is not only prayed by the Church during Holy Week as we see the true Passover Lamb lifted up on the altar of the cross for our salvation, but it is also sung throughout Eastertide with words that are familiar to every Christian: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.  This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” CP200405

Table of Duties — Of Civil Government

March 29, 2020

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Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 75—Luther on the Psalm: “The 75th psalm is a psalm of comfort against the stiff-necked, proud, godless teachers who are self-secure and presume on their office, as if they need fear nothing, neither threat nor punishment. As Psalm 73 above has written: Who shall be our teacher? We are the teachers! WE sit in the office, we have the power, and all must obey us or be excommunicated as heretics. So also today our secure princes and rebellious spirits sit as spiritual and worldly tyrants, thinking that God Himself can neither see nor overthrow them.

     But this psalm says otherwise. It gives us the comfort that we should look forward to the judgment when the godless will be judged and pass away. The earth and all its inhabitants will shake and tremble; nevertheless God will preserve the pillars, that is, the godly who bear and preserve this world, as St. Paul (1 Timothy 3:15) calls the Church a foundation and pillar of truth. Thus God preserved Lot when He overthrew Sodom, and He preserved the believing Jews with the apostles when He destroyed the Jewish nation. For He well knows how to deliver His own when He destroys a land.” From Reading the Psalms with Luther, CPH  CP200329