Lenten Catechesis VI 2012 – Sacrament of the Altar

Psalm 43 (antiphon: v. 5)
Office Hymn: 435 Come to Calvary’s Holy Mountain
OT: Exod 24:1-11
Ep: 1 Cor 11:17-34
Gos: Mt: 26:17-29
Catechetical Reading: The Sacrament of the Altar (hymnal p. 326-7)
Catechetical Hymn: 617 O Lord, We Praise Thee

Summary: As with Baptism and Confession, Luther compels us to ask three questions regarding the Sacrament of the Altar. What is it? What benefits does it give? Who should receive it? The answer to all three is found in the Verba, the Words of Institution. While we would hope that these words would be enough, some would still despise them or fail to discern what Jesus says of the Sacrament. This is the Devil’s workmanship. He hates the Christ and he hates Christ’s body and blood. He would lead us into unbelief, error, and neglect, so that we would starve ourselves and our children from this life-giving food for souls. May it not be so!

Lenten Catechesis V 2012 – Confession

Psalm 132 (antiphon: v. 13)
Office Hymn:  426 When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
OT: 2 Sam 11:2-5,14-17,26-12:7,13-14
Ep: James 5:13-20
Gospel: Jn 20:19-23
Catechetical Hymn: 610 Lord Jesus, Think On Me

Summary: Confession is perhaps the simplest of the six chief parts of our faith. One, we confess and two, we are absolved. Yet, it is still a mystery. God reconciles us to Himself by the shedding of the blood of His very Son. Indeed, the Holy Trinity is responsible for confession from start to finish. The Spirit grants faith to trust the Word, the Word works contrition and repentance, Christ’s does the work of atoning, and the Word of Absolution forgives.

In the Lutheranism of today, individual confession between penitent and pastor has all but disappeared, despite nearly 500 years of catechesis from Luther teaching young and old to receive this gift. Why? Is the general confession before the Divine Service a suitable replacement? Is it the fear of being too Roman Catholic? Is it pride? Is it fear? Or is through lack of knowledge or experience? In most cases, it is a little bit of each.

Despite our disuse, personal, private, or individual confession and absolution is a tremendous blessing for the Christian. It is all about God calling you to repentance and God forgiving you. It is all about receiving salvation and life. It is all about Christ’s blood absolving you again of every sin. Confession is all about Jesus forgiving you.

Lenten Catechesis IV 2012 – Holy Baptism

Psalm 4 (antiphon: v. 8)
Office Hymn: 423 Jesus, Refuge of the Weary
OT: 2 Kings 5:1-14; Ep: Acts 2:36-47; Gos: Mt 28:16-20
Catechetical Hymn: 596 All Christians Who Have Been Baptized

Summary: It is necessary that we be instructed not just in the Ten Commandments, Lord’s Prayer, and Apostles’ Creed, but also in the holy Sacraments and the Office of the Keys. Why? The Sacraments are the means of grace by which God creates and sustains faith in His Word. He does this by His Word and in His Name. Especially with Holy Baptism, Jesus and the Apostles clearly teach that the baptism is necessary for salvation. Without receiving the holy sacraments in faith, we cannot be consider ourselves Christian. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Yet, Baptism is not just about God’s command but also about His word of promise. Great promises are attached to Baptism, making it a wonderful treasure for every Christian.