CATECHESIS NOTES FOR THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT -- "You shall not steal." -- God continues to protect the blessings which he has given his creation. As the fifth commandment protects life, and the sixth marriage, so also the 7th commandment protects our possessions. God has given us all things. An understanding of this fact will help us appreciate not only the abundant blessings which our Lord has given to each of us, but it will also help us realize that we can help protect other people's property and business as well.
CATECHESIS NOTES FOR THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT -- "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor." -- Once again, the Lord protects those blessings he has bestowed on his creation. In the eighth commandment, God is protecting the good name which he has given to us. It is so easy to besmirch a good name–especially when we believe that person deserves such ridicule and shame. In this commandment, however, our God commands us to not only protect other people's reputations, but also to live in harmony with each other by trusting that another person's "yes" is "yes," and his or her "no" is "no."
CATECHESIS NOTES FOR THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT -- "You shall not murder." -- Through these commandments, God protects people. In the case of the fifth commandment, God is protecting human life. God does not delight in the suffering or the harm of another person, and nor should we. This commandment condemns not only our actions, but our inactions as we often are apathetic to the protection of others. We do not actively seek to stop or prevent harm from befalling others in our lives. However, God in his infinite mercy, continually protects us by commanding his angels to guard and watch over us. Through the ultimate act of grace, God has protected us from the hands of the evil one and from the snares of sin and the devil. Thanks be to God for such mercy and grace despite our own inadequacies in this commandment!
CATECHESIS NOTES FOR THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT -- "You shall not commit adultery." -- If you study Luther's explanations to the commandments closely, you will see that the sixth commandment differs slightly from the rest. Rather than emphasizing what we should not do, Luther emphasizes what we should do. He makes this commandment a positive. Because God made humans sexual in nature, any restrictions on these impulses will seem like a burden or curse. However, in the sixth commandment, God is protecting such a precious gift by ensuring that sex is used in a good and God-pleasing way. By putting restrictions on this gift, God is not burdening us; rather, he is encouraging a healthy, active, and loving sex-life between husband and wife. And by encouraging this wonderful union, God is also bringing husband and wife closer together and strengthening the marital and familial bonds.
CATECHESIS NOTES FOR THE THIRD COMMANDMENT -- "Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy." -- The Third Commandment isn't necessarily a commandment about a day; rather, it is about God's Word and the honor which it is given by people. God's command to keep the Sabbath Day "holy" is really a command to set aside specific time to be in and around God's Word. In the seven-day creation in Genesis, Moses succinctly states the purpose of the Sabbath: "And on the seventh day, God rested from all of his labors." This was not some trivial moment for God to sit back and admire his creation (though, he could very well have done that since everything he made was "very good"). No, God resting on the seventh day was to provide an explicit example of what he wanted mankind to do: to set aside a day to rest from the every toil and focus on the one thing needful. He gives us rest through his Word. He gives us peace through his Sacraments. It is Jesus himself who is the source of rest for Christians.
It didn't take long after Jesus' ascension for Christians to move their day of worship from Saturday to Sunday. This move, while unnoticed in our society, shifted the focus from the Old Testament command of the seventh day to an observance on the day Christ rose from the dead–Sunday. It was on that day that he sealed for us eternal rest and reminded us of the peace we have when he said, "Peace be with you." For this reason, the Luther's explanation in the Small Catechism is appropriate: "that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but regard it has holy and gladly hear and learn it." So then, the Third Commandment teaches us to "set apart" a day from the rest (whichever day it is) by hearing the Word of God through which we are renewed in repentance and faith in Christ.
CATECHESIS NOTES FOR THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT -- "Honor your father and mother." -- Under the Fourth Commandment we are reminded that God stands behind fathers, mothers, and all who are in authority. And not only does he stand behind them, but he works through them. In this regard, then, we are to honor them and show them respect–not because they have earned or deserved it–but because God has commanded it and placed them into such a high office. In this commandment, parents and those in authority are reminded not to abuse such an office but to realize the awesome responsibility that has been bestowed on them by God.
CATECHESIS NOTES FOR THE FIRST AND SECOND COMMANDMENTS -- "You shall have no other gods." "You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God." --The Ten Commandments preach repentance. The message of God’s Law is necessary in order that we might receive the Gospel in repentant hearts. This is ever most true for the first and second commandments. Luther, in his Large Catechism, writes: "What does it mean to have a god? What is God? Answer: A god means that from which we are to expect all good and to which we are to take refuge in all distress, so to have a God is nothing else than to trust and believe in such from the heart." (LC: 1:1-2) It is true; we do not call on God's name as we should. We do not trust him with our entire heart, soul and mind. We place our trust in earthly and trivial things. Kyrie, eleison! Lord, have mercy!
This week we focus on the 1st and 2nd Commandments. May we learn them. May we take them to heart. May we be comforted by God's Holy Word so that we may cling to the blessed hope of eternal life through Christ. May the Lord bless our time in his Word and in prayer!
Martin Luther encouraged an active life of devotion and prayer. He encouraged his parishioners to read, study, learn and memorize the catechism as a family—and yes, even at a very early age!
So, as a congregation, we are seeking to heed the suggestion by Luther and turning each day of the week to the Word and the Catechism. We will begin this journey at the beginning of the Small Catechism. This will be a nine month walk through the Six Chief Parts of the Catechism and the Table of Duties. Each year we are encouraged to “pray through the Catechism,” meditating each week upon the truths of God’s Word according to the pattern laid out in the Catechism.
St. Paul says, “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” [2 Timothy 1:13, ESV] The Small Catechism gives us “the pattern of sound words” by which we learn to know ourselves rightly and to know our God and Savior Jesus Christ.
For this reason, we offer this opportunity to continually meditate upon the truths of the Catechism that we might be grounded in the faith of the Holy Scriptures and the Gospel of Jesus Christ all the days of our lives. May God bless you as you ponder anew the great things he has done!
Luther's Small Catechism
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