This week we move on to the Fourth Part of Luther’s Small Catechism. Thus far we have looked at The Ten Commandments, The Apostles’ Creed, and The Lord’s Prayer. With the Fourth Part we will consider the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. We will also reflect on Confession and Absolution.
With the Ten Commandments we are taught what God expects of us. And accordingly, as in holding a mirror before us, we see we fall far short of these expectations. With the Apostles’ Creed we are taught what God has graciously done, and continues to do, for us – even though we fall short of his expectations. With the Lord’s Prayer we are taught how we are to live for the One who has so graciously acted, and still acts, for us. And by praying, we acknowledge that it is only by his grace that we can live for him.
Now with a meditation on the Sacraments, we will discover and be reminded of important resources God provides us with to live in and for Him!
The Fourth Part begins with Holy Baptism. The first question posed in the Catechism is, “What is Baptism?” And Luther’s explanation is, “Baptism is not water only, but it is water used together with God’s Word and by his command.” Then Luther substantiates this with Matthew 28:19: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
And so why do we baptize? For starters, our Lord Jesus has commanded us to baptize. And because we are commanded to do so, that means that we are authorized to act on his behalf. Jesus says as much when he commands us to do the baptizing “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Importantly, our Lord is the one who washes away our sins! And he does this through his proxies, that is, through his followers, his Body the Church. And we do so in his name!
Since You Asked…
What is the purpose and meaning of our Votive Prayer Candles?
To “light a candle for someone” means that you will say a prayer for them. The candle symbolizes your prayers. When we light a candle it is a sign of attentiveness and that we are being purposeful in offering intercessory prayer. It is an important act in which we are involved! To be in prayer is to be spiritually awake and vigilant. And as the candle continues to burn it symbolizes our ongoing prayers. It is a sign to others that prayers are being offered. In such an atmosphere, indeed the darkness gives way to light.