A Congregation at Prayer ~ November 28–December 4, 2016 ~ The Lord's Prayer – Address & First Petition
Catechesis Notes for the Week—Advent--Advent means “coming.” It is the beginning of the Church Year. "Here in late November, we are in the middle of a season of dying. The flowers are frozen. The gardens are all gone. Gone are the greens and blues of summer. Here to stay are the grey days and long nights of winter. Yet in the middle of nature’s dying, we experience a Church that is thriving! In the Church’s year, all is fresh and new as we await the birth of the Word made flesh. In nature, we see more darkness than daylight. But in the Church, we watch with wide-open eyes as the Light of the World dawns in the darkness. In nature, we come face to face with the stubborn fact that all things pass away. But in the Church, we celebrate the coming of Christ who makes all things new!"
Catechesis Notes for the Week--The End of the Church Year: Watching During the Great Tribulation--The Bride of Christ,the Holy Christian Church, waits eagerly for her Lord’s Second Coming. Then she, of whom we are all members, will be delivered once and for all from sin and the corruption that is in the world. The “Great Tribulation” of the last days is the struggle that the Church and every Christian in every age has had with the devil, the world, and the sinful flesh. These enemies attack faith in Christ. We, Christ’s Church, have been in the “Last Days” since our Lord's ascension into heaven. The faith of the Church has always been under attack. Our only defense as Christians is the Word of God and the prayer of faith that claims Christ's victory in the midst of this suffering.
Catechesis Notes for the Week—How Do We Receive the Holy Spirit--When Jesus appeared to the disciples on Easter evening, He said to them, “Peace to You! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you…Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20: 21-23, NKJV). These words teach us much about “how” we receive the Holy Spirit. We receive the Holy Spirit through our Savior’s Word of forgiveness. There is an inseparable linkage between our Savior’s words and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is “the Lord and giver of life.” He calls us to faith in Christ. He creates a new will in our hearts that desires to love God and serve the neighbor. He produces in us the good works of love that flow from faith. He brings forth in us the “fruit of the Spirit”— love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. He brings to us everything that Jesus has done for us. By the Holy Spirit, Jesus Himself actually dwells in our hearts by faith. The Holy Spirit does all this by the Word of our Savior. Christians need to know where the Holy Spirit promises to be found: in the reception of the Word of Christ. Therefore, we seek the Spirit in the very promises of our Baptism, in the ongoing preaching of the Gospel, in faithful catechesis of the Word of Christ, in the life of repentance and faith that confesses sin and receives the absolution. Even the Lord’s Supper carries the promise of the Holy Spirit because Jesus’ word, “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,” is at the center of the Sacrament. When we pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are praying for the Holy Spirit to come to us and work in us where He promises to be found: in Christ’s Word—in all the wonderful ways Jesus’ word of forgiveness comes to us.
Catechesis Notes for the Week—The Third Article of the Creed--“Neither you nor I could ever know anything of Christ, or believe in him and take him as our Lord, unless these were first offered to us and bestowed on our hearts through the preaching of the Gospel by the Holy Spirit. The work is finished and completed; Christ has acquired and won the treasure for us by his sufferings, death, and resurrection, etc. But if the work had remained hidden and no one knew of it, it would have been all in vain, all lost. In order that this treasure might not be buried but put to use and enjoyed, God has caused the Word to be published and proclaimed, in which he has given the Holy Spirit to offer and apply to us this treasure of salvation. Therefore to sanctify is nothing else than to bring us to the Lord Christ to receive this blessing, which we could not obtain by ourselves... Further we believe that in this Christian church we have the forgiveness of sins, which is granted through the holy sacraments and absolution as well as through all the comforting words of the entire Gospel. Toward forgiveness is directed everything that is to be preached concerning the sacraments and, in short, the entire Gospel and all the duties of Christianity. Forgiveness is needed constantly, for although God's grace has been won by Christ, and holiness has been wrought by the Holy Spirit through God's Word in the unity of the Christian church, yet because we are encumbered with our flesh we are never without sin.” — The Large Catechism, Third Article
Luther's Small Catechism
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