Greetings in the name of our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
As I begin this letter to you today I am reminded of all that is coming up in our communities. Of all the events coming up, one of the most important to us as a church is Confirmation. As you may have heard me say in a sermon not too long ago that it is my opinion that the current concept of what confirmation is in the church is not what it was originally intended to be. Currently confirmation, at least the way I experienced it growing up, was more of a graduation. As a teenager, once I had gone through confirmation I felt there was no need look at it ever again. However, when Martin Luther wrote the Small Catechism his intent is that it would be taught and studied throughout one’s life. With that in mind I thought it would be appropriate for us, over the next few months to reopen those Small Catechisms and look once again at what we began learning when we were youths.
Before Martin Luther wrote the Small Catechism, he wrote a personal prayer book; something that could be used to help focus a person’s personal devotion. In this prayer book Luther introduces teachings that would later be complied into his Small Catechism and then expounded upon in his Large Catechism. For Luther there were three chief parts of Christian teaching that every Christian should be familiar with: the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer. Luther believed that “the total content of Scripture and preaching and everything a Christian needs to know is quite fully and adequately comprehended in these three items” (LW 43:13). Luther had this belief because of what these three chief parts represented. According to Luther these three parts should be learned in that exact order because the Ten Commandments show a person that they are sick with sin.
The creed then shows a person where medicine can be found for their sickness; the grace and mercy of God through Christ’s death on the cross. Finally we learn in the Lord’s Prayer that in all things we can turn to God for help and guidance through our sickness and for our healing.
Over the next few months we will be looking at these three chief parts more closely in order to come to a deeper understanding of God’s love for us.