Moving on from the Ten Commandments we next visit The Apostles’ Creed in our journey through Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. And it is appropriate to go from what is expected of us, as reflected in the commandments, and move to what God has done, is doing, and will do for us, as reflected in the Creed.
When we reflect on what God expects of us, as we must, we necessarily feel condemnation. For we fall so short of God’s will for us as perfectly reflected and summarized in the Ten Commandments. So it comes as a great relief to affirm things that don’t rely on our sorry effort and performance. When we contemplate on what God graciously accomplishes on our behalf, our hearts swell up with gratitude and hope. This is particularly the case when we consider God’s redemptive work to reclaim lost sinners!
For teaching purposes Dr. Luther divides the Creed into three parts or articles. The First Article is, “I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.” And Luther’s explanation goes, “I believe that God has created me and all that exists. He has given me and still preserves my body and soul with all their powers. He provides me with food and clothing, home and family, daily work, and all I need from day to day. God also protects me in time of danger and guards me from every evil. All this he does out of fatherly and divine goodness and mercy, though I do not deserve it. Therefore I surely ought to thank and praise, serve and obey him. This is most certainly true.”
Here we believe, teach and confess that we are utterly dependent creatures. Nothing exists apart from God. He spoke things into existence. And things continue to exist because God sustains them.
Pure existence is cause for rejoicing! We move, live and have our being in, by and through God alone. He creates freely out of pure goodness , wisdom and delight, and not out of any necessity. To him belongs the glory!
Since You Asked…
What is the meaning of the “KYRIE” (kir-E-A)?
KYRIE is a Latin term which is in turn is a transliteration of a Greek word meaning “Lord.” In the Latin Mass the term KYRIE was combined with the term ELESION meaning “have mercy.” In addition, the Mass included a three-fold response: KYRIE ELEISON, CHRISTE ELEISON, KYRIE ELEISON, which translated is “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.” In our Lutheran Worship Service we utilize a prayer from the Latin Mass known as a Peace Litany. A Litany is a responsive prayer. This Litany is usually led by our Assisting Minister, and the congregation response is the KYRIE ELEISON. And so the Assisting Minister begins, “In peace let us pray to the Lord,” and the congregation responds to this and each succeeding petition with, “Lord, have mercy.” (with help from the Manual on the Liturgy a companion to the Lutheran Book of Worship, publ. by Augsburg).