Grace Notes 2024-02-14

Wednesday, February 14th 2024

I often consider Luther’s Small Catechism as one of the finest of the treasures in our tradition. The format of Luther’s catechism was not new, but the concise wording was a great gift. That it lends itself to memorization is what is so remarkable. It helps us to hide both Scripture and Biblical truths in our hearts. Hidden there we can meditate on them and then actually pray the Scriptures.

There are six principal parts to the Small Catechism. The are: 1) The Ten Commandments; 2) The Apostles’ Creed; 3) The Lord’s Prayer; 4) The Sacrament of Holy Baptism; 5) Confession and Absolution; and 6) The Sacrament of Holy Communion. In that order the Small Catechism teaches: 1) What God expects of us; 2) What in His grace God has done and is doing for us; 3) What we should be asking of God so that we can live for Him; 4) How God gives us spiritual birth; 5) How we live out our baptisms; and 6) How God nourishes and sustains us with forgiveness and His life.

The beauty of this teaching tool is that it is comprehensive. It provides the framework for understanding the most important teachings of the Bible. That framework can be filled in, and indeed learning is for a lifetime in which we only scratch the surface. If you know the catechism you know what you need to repent of. If you know the catechism you know what Jesus accomplished on the cross and how to share the gospel with someone else. If you know the catechism you know how to live as we are meant to live in gratitude for God’s amazing grace. If you know the catechism you know where and how to receive nurture, fortification, and reassurance.

Each week a portion of the Small Catechism is shared in our “Congregation at Prayer” publication. Read that portion out loud each day. Commit it to memory. Let it prompt your prayers of confession, gratitude, and for direction.


Since You Asked…

What is the meaning of “Lent”? 

The English word “Lent” means “springtime”. Lent is the six-week period of spiritual discipline before Easter (40 days not counting Sundays). At an early period in the Church’s history baptisms might only be celebrated once a year at the Easter Vigil Service. Accordingly there was a period prior to this of introducing and training candidates for baptism. In time the training for baptismal candidates grew to a six week period, and this training involved fasting. The 40 days was, no doubt, modeled on the 40 days of our Lord Jesus’ fasting in the wilderness before his temptations by the devil. As the years passed the Lenten fast began to be applied, not only to the baptismal candidates, but to the church as a whole. Church members were encouraged to approach Easter in the same manner in which they had solemnly prepared for their baptisms. That is why the Season of Lent has finally developed as a time for fasting, study, prayer, acts of love, and humility. (with help from The Westminster Dictionary of Worship, edited by J.G. Davies, The Westminster Press.)

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