Peace Lutheran Church Sussex, Wisconsin

Congregation at Prayer

The Catechism: What the Hearers Owe Their Pastors (second half)

March 19, 2023

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Catechesis Notes for the Week — A New Commandment I Give You that You Love One Another as I Have Loved You—The Passion narrative in St. John’s Gospel begins with Mary, the sister of Lazarus, anointing Jesus with oil. It was an act of love for Jesus and a confession of faith in Him. Mary loved Jesus because she had been touched by His love and anointed His body for His coming burial. On Palm Sunday the pilgrims who greeted Jesus with “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” had also been touched by Jesus’ love and confessed their faith in Him because of it. When Jesus’ washed the disciples’ feet in the upper room, He forgave their sin, sanctified them by His Word for service as His apostles, and “loved them to the end” by preaching His forgiving grace and dying for their sins and the sins of the whole world upon the cross. At the conclusion of this week’s narrative, we hear the words of Jesus: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Jesus loved us by laying down His life for our sins and by speaking those words of forgiveness that bind up our wounds and comfort our troubled consciences. This is why Mary, the Palm Sunday pilgrims, and all Christians love Jesus. John would later write of this, “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Jesus calls this command “to love one another” a “new commandment” because it is rooted in the New Covenant in His blood. It’s meaning defines what is at the heart of the Gospel: “the forgiveness of sins.”CP230319

The Catechism: What the Hearers Owe Their Pastors (first half)

March 12, 2023

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Catechesis Notes for the Week — The Giving of the Law and the Ministry of Moses—This week’s Bible Stories conclude the Old Testament narrative for the current academic year, from Creation to the Giving of the Law on Mount Sinai. In these narratives we learn something about the ministry that God had assigned to Moses. On the one hand, he is referred to as a prophet of the Law; on the other hand, Moses also appears as a redeemer figure through whom God brought about Israel’s redemption from slavery in Egypt. Yet there was need for a Prophet greater than Moses, namely, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Christ fulfills every commandment of the Lord and every promise of salvation. By His Word of grace and forgiveness we have life and salvation. In the Advice of Jethro, the Father-in-law of Moses we see the New Testament ministry anticipated. Moses could not handle all the work there was to do in the ministry for Israel. In the same way, Jesus not only called and ordained Apostles, but the Church has continued to ordain ministers today according to the Lord’s mandate. As Israel Encamps at Mount Sinai we learn that they are sanctified by the Word of God, even as we are. They were called to be a holy nation and a royal priesthood for the benefit of other nations. The Church is called to carry on this sacred calling today. At Mount Sinai, they saw the glory of God’s Law in the thunder and lightning. There would be no approach to God apart from the access to God that Jesus would bring to His people by His atoning sacrifice upon the cross. Finally, the climax of the exodus occurs in the giving of the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments record God’s moral law, what is good and right, what is evil and wrong. The Law is written upon the hearts of all men, but in the Ten Commandments we learn to know what this Law is in all its certainty against the attempts of the flesh to deny what is good and true. The Ten Commandments, God’s Law, shows us our sin and how much we need Christ, the only One who could fulfill the Law for us. In the Lord’s Covenant with Israel, the Lord pledges to be faithful to the promises He has made to His people, and the children of Israel promise the Lord, “All the words which the Lord has said we will do.” Israel broke its pledge. The Old Covenant was broken by their unfaithfulness, but in the New Covenant in Jesus’ blood the Old Covenant is fulfilled for all.CP230312

The Catechism: To Bishops, Pastors, and Preachers

March 5, 2023

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Catechesis Notes for the Week — The Lord’s Care and Provision for His Rebellious People—This week’s Old Testament stories highlight God’s grace toward His rebellious people. Despite the mighty deliverance they had experienced in their deliverance from the Egyptians at the Red Sea, they grumbled and complained against the Lord throughout their wilderness sojourn to Mount Sinai. In Bitter Water Made Sweet it appeared to Israel as if they would die of thirst in the wilderness, but the Lord would not allow them to perish. He sweetened the water so that they could drink, and it would sustain life. In The Bread from Heaven they again grumbled against the Lord and accused Him of not caring for them by letting them starve in the wilderness. Again, the Lord provided manna from heaven and quail to eat in abundance. But even in their eating, they demonstrated ungratefulness and accused the Lord of abandoning them. In the Water from the Rock we see the source of every temporal and spiritual blessing: Christ, the Rock of our salvation. The Lord commanded Moses to strike the rock in the wilderness. Water gushed forth, completely satisfying every need of the entire congregation. By this water their thirst was quenched, and He would continue to provide for them from the rock throughout their sojourn. This rock is a picture of Christ. He is the Rock of our salvation. On the altar of the cross He was struck with a spear and blood and water gushed forth for the life and salvation of all who look to Him in faith. The First Battle announces the first of many victories that the Lord would give to Israel throughout their pilgrimage and as they would experience in the conquest of the Promised Land. Finally, this week’s Passion reading from St. Matthew is: Jesus Celebrates the Passover. This reading, so central to our Lord’s Passion, teaches us that every sacrifice and feast of the Old Testament finds its fulfillment in Jesus, the true Passover Lamb. He was slaughtered for us upon the altar of the cross and in His supper we eat and drink of His body and blood for our salvation.CP230305

The Catechism: The Sacrament of the Altar — Review and Who receives this sacrament worthily?

February 26, 2023

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Catechesis Notes for the Week — Promise Fulfilled in Triumphal Victory — This week’s Bible narratives bring us to the fulfillment of God’s promise to deliver His people from slavery in the Exodus. Exodus means, “the way out”—the “way out of slavery” was by the blood of the Passover Lamb. That Old Testament feast, involving the shedding of the Lamb’s blood and the eating of the Passover is fulfilled in the death of Christ and the Lord’s Supper. Israel Journeys to the Red Sea in their exodus from Egypt where the Lord Fights for Israel, delivering them through water from the pursuing Egyptians. The Red Sea crossing is a wonderful picture of Holy Baptism. We hear the sweet words of Gospel in what Moses tells the fearful children of Israel, “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you this day!” From beginning to end, salvation is entirely the Lord’s doing. These Old Testament narratives further illuminate how the promises of the Gospel find their fulfillment in Christ’s work for us in His death and resurrection. The Song of Moses celebrates this great victory over the Egyptians, even as we sing the songs of Christ’s victory over sin, death, and the power of the Evil One. Finally, our Wednesday Lenten midweek meditations begin this week with the first reading from the St. Matthew Passion, Jesus Is Anointed at Bethany. In this reading we will meditate upon the gift of Holy Baptism and how we are united to Christ and He with us in Baptism. Jesus was anointed to die. In our Baptism, we are united to His death and resurrection through water and the Word.CP230226

The Catechism: The Sacrament of the Altar—Where is this written? What is the benefit…? How can bodily eating…?

February 19, 2023

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Catechesis Notes for the Week — Psalm 31: A Prayer of Thanksgiving and Comfort for the Lord’s Deliverance—Jesus was hated, so will His Christians be. Jesus was assaulted by the Evil One, so will His Christians be. Jesus suffered much at the hands of those spiritual and earthly forces that tried to destroy Him, and so will His Christians be. Yet through all of this the Lord God sustained Him, and He will sustain His Christians too. Psalm 31 is a great example of how we pray THROUGH CHRIST for all the comfort, help, and strength that God promises to give us. We are actually praying for the things that God promises. This is what gives Christian prayer its certainty. This understanding appears at the beginning of the psalm: “Bow down Your ear to me, deliver me speedily; be my rock of refuge, a fortress to save me” (the petition); “For You are my rock and my fortress; therefore, for Your name’s sake, lead me and guide me” (the confident assertion of faith). The certainty that God hears our prayers is anchored in the great truths of the Gospel that He promises and declares to us. “Since He is our God and Savior, since He has redeemed me from all sin, death and the power of the devil, THEN I can be confident that He hears my prayers for His deliverance, and I will give thanks to Him for the assurance of His answer to my prayers!” Confidence in God’s promises of deliverance rests in what Jesus has done for us in His death and resurrection. Christ is, therefore, the One who gives certainty and confidence to our prayers! In Psalm 31 we can hear Jesus’ own prayers. He faced every challenge for us! He endured in the confidence that His Father in heaven was His refuge and strength! And the Lord heard His prayers. In His suffering, persecution, and death, Jesus confidently commended Himself to His Father in heaven: “But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand; Deliver Me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute Me.” We pray these same prayers through Jesus Christ, our Lord, and in the full assurance of faith, because we are joined to Him. It is for Jesus’ sake that we commend ourselves to God: “For You are my strength. Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.” As Jesus prayed these words with confidence from the cross, we are enabled to pray them with confidence in Him and in His redemption.CP230219

The Catechism: The Sacrament of the Altar

February 12, 2023

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Catechesis Notes for the Week — The Lord Remembers His Promise to Save His People—When the Lord “remembers” it does not mean that He had forgotten, but rather that He is acting according to His promise of salvation to us. When we “remember” the Lord, we are recalling His promises to us and calling out to Him on the basis of those promises. This week’s readings continue the narrative of God’s call to Moses to redeem the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt. In the Lord Goes with Moses to Egypt, we learn of Moses’ doubts and apprehension. The Lord promises to go with him and gives him signs to show before Pharaoh and his brother Aaron to speak on his behalf. When Moses Goes to Pharaoh the Lord’s prediction comes true. Pharaoh hardens his heart and life for the children of Israel becomes even more difficult as they have to gather their own straw to make bricks. The children of Israel are distraught and speak against Moses. In a powerful proclamation of God’s saving acts that He performed on the basis of His promises, the Lord Promises Deliverance. The Lord foretold to Moses everything that would unfold for him before Pharaoh and what he was to do. In the Lord Gives Signs, the Lord demonstrates His superiority over the gods of Egypt and how He will harden Pharaoh’s heart that He might gain honor over Pharaoh. The Plagues are a set of nine plagues in three groups of three which demonstrate that the Lord God of Israel is the only true and living God over the false gods of Egypt. The water turned into blood, the frogs, and the lice demonstrate the Lord’s judgment against the Egyptian gods of the underworld. The flies, the diseased livestock, and the boils demonstrate the Lord’s judgment against the Egyptian gods of the earthly plane. And the plagues of hail, locusts, and darkness demonstrate the Lord’s judgment against the Egyptian gods of the overworld. Through this public display before Egypt and Israel, the Lord demonstrates that He is the only true and living God.


The Catechism: Confession and the Office of the Keys

February 5, 2023

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Catechesis Notes for the Week — God’s Blessing Is Always Anchored in His Grace — The narrative of Joseph’s sojourn in Egypt concludes this week with a clear and unmistakable proclamation of God’s grace. Jacob’s Blessings Before He Dies show how each of the twelve sons of Jacob are part of God’s gracious providence to the house of Israel. Each of them had his place. Each was called by God’s name. Each of them had their share in the blessing of God’s grace through the promise made to the fathers. Joseph Continues to Show Mercy to His Brothers by one final act of absolution. After the death of Jacob, Joseph’s brothers feared that he would take revenge upon them. He did not! But in the stead of the Lord of all grace, Joseph proclaimed the Lord’s absolution to them yet again, “Do not be afraid…you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive…do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” After centuries in Egypt, the children of Israel grew to the tens of thousands. A wicked Pharaoh began to oppress them and subject them to bitter bondage. They would learn through their suffering to cry out to the Lord for deliverance according to the promise made to the patriarchs. The Birth of Moses marks a new chapter in the history of God’s people. Moses would be trained in the household of Pharaoh, but he did not forget his people. At the age of 40, Moses Flees to Midian where he becomes a shepherd and marries Jethro’s daughter Zipporah. For the next 40 years, the Lord would prepare him to be the most important prophet in the Old Testament, the one who would lead the children of Israel out of bondage. Upon Mount Sinai, I AM Appears to Moses in the Burning Bush and calls him to be His spokesman before Pharaoh and the children of Israel. The time of their bondage was drawing to a close. The eternal God of the promise of salvation would make good on His promise and rescue His people.CP230205

The Catechism: Confession and the Office of the Keys

January 29, 2023

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Catechesis Notes for the Week — The Power of the Forgiveness of Sins—The dramatic story of Joseph’s interactions with his brothers continues in this week’s readings. The true identity of the prince of Egypt remained hidden from his brothers, but the truth of their sin and what they had done to Joseph and their father Jacob was coming to the light of day. God worked repentance in their hearts, turning them away from their self-righteous sins of hatred of their father and brother to a confession of their sin and a yearning for the Lord’s salvation. When the prince’s cup was found in Benjamen’s sack and they were given the opportunity to abandon him, Judah Intercedes for Benjamin before Joseph, offering himself in exchange for his brother, giving us a picture of Jesus, the greater descendant of Judah, who would intercede for us. It grieved Joseph to have had to treat his brothers so roughly, but it was necessary in order to save them from impenitence and condemnation. Joseph Forgives His Brothers. He can bear it no longer. He must reveal himself to them, not to punish them but to forgive them and celebrate the gift of God’s grace. Joseph was motivated by the undeserved forgiveness and grace of the Lord that he himself had received and that had sustained him throughout the hardships of his life which eventually brought him to the pinnacle of Egyptian power. The power of Christ’s forgiveness is revealed in Joseph’s radical and wonderful words to his brothers, “Do not be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.” By the grace of God, Joseph declared that “God works in all things for our good” (Romans 8:28). In the strength of God’s forgiveness, Joseph is reconciled to his brothers, Jacob Journeys to Egypt to See Joseph, Jacob Settles in the Land of Goshen with all his sons and family, and Jacob Blesses Joseph’s Sons. The line of the Messiah is preserved and in Joseph’s Vow he pledges to return his father’s body to the land of promise for burial. The Lord was present with Joseph throughout his life, working all things for good, by the power of Christ’s forgiving grace.CP230129

The Catechism: The Sacrament of Holy Baptism—Part IV

January 22, 2023

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Catechesis Notes for the Week — The Gift of Faithful Pastors — This week gives us opportunity to meditate upon three minor festivals that commemorate the gift of pastors. St. Timothy, Pastor and Confessor, became a catechumen of Paul on Paul’s second missionary journey. His Jewish mother and grandmother are credited with teaching him the Scriptures from childhood. Timothy continued with Paul and became a fellow minister of the Gospel who would train other men to be pastors.  The Conversion of St. Paul commemorates the grace of God that calls obstinate, self-righteous sinners to repentance and faith. Saul of Tarsus met the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus, Syria. He had letters in hand from the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem to arrest those who called on the name of the Lord Jesus. This embittered Pharisee and persecutor of the Church became, by the grace of God, a faithful apostle of the Gospel he once tried to destroy. St. Titus, Pastor and Confessor, was a Greek convert to the Christian faith from Antioch, Syria. Titus assisted Paul in the distribution of funds collected to assist the poor, suffering Church of Judea. Like Timothy, Titus was an envoy of the Apostle Paul to many of the churches throughout Asia and Greece. He assisted in the training of pastors in those cities and would end his life as the bishop of Crete. CP230122

The Catechism: The Sacrament of Holy Baptism — Part III

January 15, 2023

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Catechesis Notes for the Week — The Ministry of a Faithful Brother—The lengthy account of Joseph from Genesis speaks of the overwhelming power of God’s grace to sustain and guide us in our vocation as Christians. Through all the things that Joseph suffered, the Lord was with him and blessed him especially in suffering. Joseph is finally remembered by Pharaoh’s butler and brought before the king of Egypt. Joseph Interprets Pharaoh’s Dreams, detailing for Pharaoh not only what the future held—seven years of plenty, followed by seven years of famine—but also advising the heathen king for the benefit of the unbelieving nation of Egypt. Joseph served his neighbor faithfully for his neighbor’s welfare. Pharaoh received Joseph’s interpretation as the Word of the Lord. Once again, the Lord blessed Joseph. Joseph Becomes the Prince of Egypt, being raised up, not really by Pharaoh but by God to bring about God’s salvation. The wise administration of the affairs of Egypt prepared them for the years of famine and enabled the Egyptians to be of service to others. In Joseph’s Brothers Journey to Egypt to Buy Food, the hardship of famine draws them to Egypt and right into the hands of Joseph. Of course, many years have passed since they sold their brother into slavery. He is now dressed like an Egyptian. He speaks Egyptian. He uses an interpreter to communicate with his brothers. They do not recognize him. Joseph’s apparent suspicion and harsh treatment of his brothers is not an act of vengeance or retribution. Rather, they needed a pastor—a faithful brother who could minister God’s Word to them and bring them back to the Lord’s salvation. Joseph Feeds His Brothers and Sends Them to Jacob out of love for them, to draw the truth from them, and to show them how much they needed to confess the truth that they have denied for years. In the midst of this week’s narrative surrounding Joseph’s faithful ministry to his brothers, we hear the Confession of St. Peter. Peter’s confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” is the ROCK upon which the Church is built. It is the pillar of truth, the foundation for our faith, and the ground of certainty and comfort. It is the confession of all true Christians today.CP230115