Welcome everyone to our first session of Confessional Studies on Sunday evening. I would argue that in today's world, many of us Lutherans don't really know what it means to be Lutheran (many times I still wonder!!!). And the last place that we look is at our own confessional writings (does that make any sense?). So as I repent for my shortcomings in this way, I am going to turn a new leaf and I pray that you will join me.
Each Sunday evening, I will post a section from our confessions, some reflection, and questions for discussion. Then there will be a "homework assignment" for the next week. My "textbook" will be the Reader's Edition of the Book of Concord by CPH, but any version of the Book of Concord is sufficient. In the Reader's Edition is a Reading Guide for the year and I will follow that as my format for homework. Please give me your input and thoughts as I want this to be ever improving and engaging for everyone involved (laypeople and pastors alike).
Week 1-Creeds (p.16-18) and Small Catechism (p.313-48)
This first week, we reflect on the bare bones of our faith. In the creeds (Nicene, Apostle's, and Athanasian), we are provided with a bold statement of our faith and also a filter by which to interpret the Scriptures. What I have grown to enjoy while proclaiming these creeds each and every week is that they instantly provide a template for discussion with those of another denomination and also as a witnessing tool for unbelievers. If someone asks you, "What is God like?" Bam....Father-created the World, Son-lived like us and died for us, Holy Spirit-brings faith and directs our lives. What a wonderful statement to make in a very bland world.
I usually call the Small Catechism as the greatest "Purpose Driven Life" books ever written. This is because it shows our lives as a child of God through and through. It shows us our sinful ways (10 commandments), it shows us a savior (Creed), it shows us how and why to pray (Lord's Prayer), it shows us the need for forgiveness (Confession), and it shows us how God works in our daily lives (Baptism & Lord's Supper). WOW! There is God's purpose-Christ!
Tonight, I wanted to meditate on the words highlighted at the beginning of each chief part. The words, "As the head of the family should teach them in a simple way to His Household." Interesting. Was Luther wrong? Didn't he know that it was supposed to say this, "As the pastor should teach in a complicated way in 7th and 8th grade?"
The Small Catechism was written for home use in order that the very basics were taught to young people by the head of the household. And the pastor/priest functioned as a "resource" to the family in uplifting the faith. Our goal as parents, grandparents, husband, etc, is to make sure that the faith is being taught in a simple way to your house. Get the basics done and let the pastor take you up a level, let him give you forgiveness, and the Sacraments. And this can be done in an extremely simple way. Here is the 3 step program: 1) Before bed grab your Small Catechism. 2) Pick a section of the SC and read it to your children or spouse, 3) Ask them what they think it means, refect, pray and go to bed! Do this every night and guess what, the Small Catechism will be mastered in the year! Not only mastered, but remembered! Simple isn't it! Let us teach it in a simple way and inwardly digest the gift he has given!
Homework: Read the creeds and a chief part of the catechism every night.
Lord have mercy!