Peace Lutheran Church Sussex, Wisconsin

Congregation at Prayer

Monthly Archives: March 2020

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

The Catechism: What Hearers Owe Their Pastors (2nd Half)

March 22, 2020

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Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 74—The Prayer of the Church During Pestilence and When Persecutors Seek to Destroy Her—Psalm 74 is a prayer against those who attack the Church and try to destroy the sanctuary of the Lord where His people gather to worship.  How strangely and eerily appropriate this psalm is for our current crisis.  On the one hand, the civil authorities are trying to protect the population from the spread of disease; on the other hand, enemies of the Gospel would like to use the crisis to destroy the Church.  The psalm begins with the questions, “O God, why have You cast us off forever? Who does Your anger smoke against the sheep of Your pasture? Remember Your congregation, which You have purchased of old…” Psalm 74 is an example of how the circumstances of life provide the proper interpretation of the psalm: “The enemy has damaged everything in the sanctuary. Your enemies roar in the midst of Your meeting place…They said in their hearts, ‘Let us destroy them altogether.’ They have burned up all the meeting places of God in the land.”  This devastating description of the Church under siege is quickly followed by our cry to the Lord to take action and remember His promises for the sake of His congregation: “The day is yours, the night also is Yours; You have prepared the light and the sun. You have set all the borders of the earth; You have made summer and winter. Remember this, that the enemy has reproached, O Lord…Oh, do not deliver the life of Your turtledove to the wild beast! … Arise, O God, plead Your own cause…”  Sometimes we are prone to imagine that the Church has never endured the kinds of distress that we experience in the world today.  It is not true. At times like these, we commend ourselves and the world to the mercy of God in Christ, take up God’s Word daily, and pray the psalms most fervently.

CP200322

Table of Duties — What the Hearers Owe Their Pastors

March 15, 2020

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Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 73—God Is Good to His Own, Even though They Are Afflicted—It often puzzles Christians that those who do not believe in Christ often seem to prosper, whereas those who do believe in Christ suffer hardships as though God has forsaken them.  Psalm 73 begins with this assertion: “Truly God is good to Israel, to such as are pure in heart.”  This is a promise to the Church and every Christian.  We are pure in heart, not because we have had no sin, but because our sin is forgiven, and we live in repentant faith.  What is repentant faith? Repentant faith turns from every form of self-reliance to reliance upon Christ for life and salvation.  Through the things that afflict us, we are taught dependence upon Him.  Through the things that afflict us, we are taught the mystery of God’s love in Jesus’ suffering.  How did the psalmist learn this? “When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me—until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end.”  God’s Word is the only thing that can make sense out of the adversities of life.  Only God’s Word can give us peace. This confidence is expressed at the conclusion of the psalm: “I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” CP200315

Table of Duties – To Bishops, Pastors, and Preachers

March 8, 2020

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Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 72—The Glory of the Messiah—Psalm 72 is a psalm of King Solomon in which he extolls the glory and universal reign of Christ’s kingdom.  It begins as a prayer to the Father: “Give the king Your judgments, O God, and Your righteousness to the king’s Son.”  The king’s Son is Christ, Son of David, Son of Solomon, Son of God. The rest of the psalm is filled with assertions concerning Christ’s kingdom for which all the nations shall praise and adore Him: He will bring justice…He will save…He shall have dominion…He will deliver the needy…He will spare the poor…He will redeem…He shall live…His name shall endure forever…” This psalm is often prayed in the Epiphany season as we celebrate how the nations are brought into the kingdom of God by the light of the Gospel of Christ: “The kings of Tarshish and of the isles will bring presents; the kings of Sheba and Seba will offer gifts. Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him.”  In these words we think of the Magi who were led by the Star to worship the Christ Child, but we also think of how the light of the Gospel has called countless millions to faith in Christ all over the world. “His name shall endure forever; His name shall continue as long as the sun. And men shall be blessed in Him; All nations shall call Him blessed.” CP200308

Sacrament of the Altar

March 1, 2020

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Catechesis Notes for the Week —Psalm 71—A Prayer against the Enemies Who Seek to Destroy Faith—Psalm 71 speaks of countless enemies who are seeking to destroy the psalmist. When we pray the psalm, few of us may think we have such enemies.  In truth, Christians have many voices of unbelief that are set against them.  In these latter days it is not simply that people don’t believe the Gospel, but rather, there are those who fight against our faith in Christ and seek to destroy it.  We see this throughout Jesus’ passion. The chief priests and elders of the people were set against Him. The scribes and pharisees hated His doctrine.  The Gentile Romans laughed at and taunted Him.  Even His disciples fled from Him during His time of need.  Jesus was not put to shame because He trusted in His Father with all His heart.  Jesus fulfilled all righteousness for our salvation.  In the face of enemies bent to destroy our faith, we cling to Christ and confess His righteousness as our salvation until the day we die.  It is Christ alone who comforts us.  It is Christ alone who gives us hope and peace.  It is Christ alone in whom we place all our confidence.  Therefore, even though there are enemies marshalled against our faith in Christ and seek to destroy us, we rejoice in Him, confess His righteousness to others and dwell confidently in His redeeming work.  No one who trusts in Him will ever be put to shame.CP200301