CATECHETICAL PREACHING: A PURPOSEFUL ELEMENT FOR FAITH FORMATION

by EVAN PAUL GAERTNER

A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Luther Seminary In Partial Fulfillment of The Requirements for the Degree of DOCTOR OF MINISTRY

ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA 2013

© 2013 by Evan Paul Gaertner All rights reserved

ABSTRACT Catechetical preaching: a purposeful element for faith formation by Evan Paul Gaertner Catechetical preaching was an instrumental element of the Reformation. Preaching the basics of the Christian faith from Martin Luther’s Small Catechism continues to provide a framework for people to understand God and themselves. This form of preaching bridges between those who live in Christ and those who live outside the church. The Success Case Method was used to determine the best practices for including catechetical preaching in the faith formation program of Lutheran congregations.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Many people have helped me with this thesis and I owe them a great deal of thanks. I appreciate the support and guidance provided by my supervisor, Professor Michael Rogness. I also greatly enjoyed the collegial support that professors John Pless and Robert Kolb provided in helping me define catechesis and catechetical preaching. My cohort at Luther Seminary provided wonderful encouragement and critical examination of my ideas. They prevented me from lagging behind and reminded me of the importance of being specific in my writing. I also am thankful for those that have read through this project and provided me essential feedback. My wife Christi and my children patiently love me. There were moments when I hid myself behind books and a computer screen. I am glad that they would work their way into my view and remind me that I am not alone. Their support continually reminded me that I am loved. On the difficult days, when words seemed hard to find, their encouragement helped me immensely. Thank you. I will take credit if I have erred in this project. If I help anyone proclaim the good news of the forgiveness of sins, to God be the glory.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT ........................................................................................................................ ii ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................................................................................. iii LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ............................................................................................ vi 1. INTRODUCTION, PROBLEM, JUSTIFICATION AND RATIONALE ....................1 Justification for Preaching as a Part of Faith Formation .......................................1 Rationale ................................................................................................................6 Definitions of Catechesis, Catechism and Catechetical Preaching .....................10 Catechesis .....................................................................................................10 Catechism .....................................................................................................11 Catechetical Preaching .................................................................................12 Introduction to Research Methodology Utilized .................................................14 Scope of Thesis....................................................................................................15 2. BIBLICAL AND THEOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK .................................................16 Faith Comes By Hearing .....................................................................................16 Catechesis in the Bible ........................................................................................20 Brief History of Catechesis .................................................................................26 Historic Setting of Catechesis in the Reformation ..............................................29 Catechesis as Proclamation .................................................................................33 3. LITERATURE REVIEW ............................................................................................41 4. PROJECT DESCRIPTION ..........................................................................................60 Qualitative Research Method ..............................................................................60 Success Case Method ..........................................................................................62 Research Questions .............................................................................................65 5. ANALYSIS ..................................................................................................................68 Context ................................................................................................................69 Resources .............................................................................................................74 Results Achieved .................................................................................................78 Negative Outcomes .............................................................................................82 6. EVALUATION............................................................................................................84 7. REFLECTION .............................................................................................................94 iv

Value and Meaning of the Project .......................................................................94 Further Research ..................................................................................................99 Personal Reflection ............................................................................................102 The Next Step ....................................................................................................106 APPENDIX A ..................................................................................................................108 APPENDIX B ..................................................................................................................110 APPENDIX C ..................................................................................................................112 APPENDIX D ..................................................................................................................120 APPENDIX E ..................................................................................................................156 WORKS CONSULTED ..................................................................................................157 WORKS CITED ..............................................................................................................162

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LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS AC BC CCA ESV FC,SD LCMS LSB NRSV LC LW SC SCM Augsburg Confession The Book of Concord. Edited by Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert. Minneapolis, 2000. Concordia Catechetical Academy English Standard Version Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Lutheran Service Book New Revised Standard Version Large Catechism Luther’s Works. Edited by Jaroslav Pelikan, Helmut T. Lehmann, and Christopher Boyd Brown. 75 vols. Philadelphia and St. Louis, 1955-. Small Catechism Success Case Method

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION, PROBLEM, JUSTIFICATION AND RATIONALE People today face a fundamental challenge of meaning and identity because they struggle to understand God, the world, and themselves. I believe that the church needs purposefully to reach out to those who face this struggle by preaching the basics of the Christian faith. Preaching the Christian faith will provide people a framework with which to understand God and themselves more fully. During the Reformation, catechetical preaching was a purposeful part of sharing the good news of Jesus. The thesis for this project is that catechetical preaching can continue to be a blessing to those who seek to live in Christ and to those who struggle to live in the body of Christ. Justification for Preaching as a Part of Faith Formation I am interested in how preaching can effectively be a part of faith formation and I am concerned that I steer away from doctrinal preaching. I have, in the past, relied on catechesis to happen in Sunday school and the classrooms of confirmation. When I have brought catechetical instruction into the goals of my preaching, I may not have done so in a way that trusts the Holy Spirit. This thesis project is about exploring why catechetical preaching should become a purposeful part of a congregation’s faith formation program. This project is undertaken with the confidence that “faith comes from what is heard” (Rom 10:17).1

1

All biblical quotations are from the NRSV unless otherwise indicated.

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2 I believe the Holy Spirit is at work through the gospel leading people into the Christian faith and life. Martin Luther wrote about the formation of a Christian in his explanation to the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed. I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him, but instead the Holy Spirit has called me through the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, made me holy and kept me in the true faith, just as he calls, gathers, enlightens, and makes holy the whole Christian church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one common, true faith.2 This explanation to the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed describes how Christian formation and growth occur by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Mary Jane Haemig comments that Martin Luther structured his explanation to the Apostles’ Creed to help people to trust in God and not just to know about him: In the middle ages, commentators divided the Apostles' Creed into 12 articles and discussed each article in turn. This approach led people to think the creed was a list of facts about God. Luther made a major change, seeing the creed not as a description of facts about God but as our confession of how God relates to us and our world. Luther recognized that God relates to us and works for us in three ways – he creates, redeems, and sanctifies. So Luther discussed the creed in three parts, according to the persons of the Trinity. Throughout, the creed addresses the questions of what does God do for me? And what kind of God do we have? Luther was convinced that it is the nature of God to be a giver.3 The Small Catechism points to a faith rooted in the work of God and witnesses to how this faith is lived in the daily rhythm of life. Purposely preaching for faith formation affirms the work of the Holy Spirit at work in the Scripture and in the world. Doctrinal preaching is not just an academic exercise, because “it is God’s Word from the past, addressing our world in the present so that we may live forever with Him in the future.”4
2

SC The Third Article 6, in BC, 355-356.

Mary Jane Haemig, “Stewardship Study: The Apostles Creed," Luther Seminary, http://www.luthersem.edu/stewardship/resource_detail.aspx?resource_id=1334 (accessed July 27, 2012). Robert Smith, Doctrine That Dances: Bringing Doctrinal Preaching and Teaching to Life (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2008), 49.
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3 Doctrinal preaching will not simply teach the teachings of the church, but it will convey this teaching into the lives of the listeners. This thesis will demonstrate that catechetical preaching has the opportunity to equip the listeners to intersect the Scripture with the world they are experiencing. According to Luther and Philip Melanchthon doctrina was a ‘verbal noun.’5 True doctrine is not only the correct content of Scripture, but it is that content conveyed effectively into the lives of the hearers of God’s Word. 6 To designate a sermon as a doctrinal sermon does not demand that that particular sermon will be dull and lifeless, even though “today [catechetical sermons] are sometimes regarded as little more than a pious tradition which need not be taken seriously.”7 The sinful nature causes people to be spiritually blind and therefore, catechetical preaching will be successful when it aims to connect a person to Jesus. Catechetical preaching addresses the problem of appealing to reason or emotional fortitude to support the growth of a Christian. On one end of the spectrum, when faith formation is emphasized primarily in the academic settings of a congregation such as Bible study groups, Sunday school, confirmation classes, etc. then faith can become identified with intellectualism. On the other end, sermons that are geared to emotional inspiration without solid content will give the congregation an identity of faith that is shallow. Both of these poles of the spectrum are mistakes because they do not respect the Holy Spirit at work through the gospel.

Robert Kolb, The Christian Faith: A Lutheran Exposition (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1993), 11. Peter Fraenkel, “Revelation and Tradition: Notes on Some Aspects of Doctrinal Continuity in the Theology of Philip Melanchthon,” Studia Theologica 13 (1959): 97-133. Peter Y. De Jong, “Comments on Catechetical Preaching,” Mid-America Journal of Theology 1, no. 2 (1985): 155.
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4 In my ministry context, I seek faith formation in people of all ages and I trust that the young and old grow through the Holy Spirit working through the gospel. Martin Luther wrote about lifelong learning in his preface to his Large Catechism, I do as a child who is being taught the catechism and I read and recite word for word the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Psalms, etc. I must still read and study the catechism daily, and yet I cannot master it as I wish, but must remain a child and pupil of the catechism—and I also do so gladly.8 I expect faith formation to be a lifelong, multigenerational experience in a congregation, and I think this is why preaching is an appropriate element for faith formation in a congregation. When I preach to the whole congregation, I demonstrate catechesis is an activity of the faith community throughout all of life. If I structurally rely on Sunday school and youth confirmation to build the foundations of the Christian faith, I unintentionally communicate that faith formation is only for children and young adults. Craig Satterlee, studying the expectations of people who listen to sermons wrote, Preaching is also an effective way to deepen and enliven a congregation’s mission and ministry. In its worship the faith community is most aware of its identity as God’s people and its shared life in Christ.9 When faith formation is removed from the moorings of the communion of saints gathered in the Divine Service, faith formation can become individualistic and academic. I intend to support faith formation as an essential part of preaching. By rooting the proclamation of the gospel in the foundations of faith, the pastor gives space for the life together found in the congregation to be built on a shared confession of faith.

8

LC Preface 8, in BC, 380.

Craig Alan Satterlee, When God Speaks through You: How Faith Convictions Shape Preaching and Mission, The Vital Worship, Healthy Congregations Series (Herndon, VA: Alban Institute, 2008), 7.

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5 Catechetical preaching demonstrates to the congregations in a postmodern context that faith formation occurs within the body of Christ. Faith formation is not a private enterprise for an individual. Robert Hughes and Robert Kysar taught a class in a seminary setting about how to preach doctrine in the twenty-first century. In preparing for that class, they found that the social science movement has revealed the foolishness of the isolated individual. Now postmodern thinkers are arguing that the very foundation of modernist individualism has fallen, namely, Descartes’ claim that individual identity is the only certainty on which to build a truth. The concept of the self is at best questionable, given humanity’s social nature.10 The postmodern outlook is no longer following the lead of modernity, which placed the individual at the center. The individual is again understood within community. Martin Luther understood that a Christian “lives not in himself but in Christ and in his neighbor… He lives in Christ through faith, in his neighbor through love. By faith, he is caught up beyond himself into God. By love he descends beneath himself into his neighbor.”11 Our preaching, which is a communal activity, must equip the individual to live within the context of the community.12 Whether we are in the time of Martin Luther, modernity, or postmodernism, preachers share the Christian gospel to people who are searching to become participants in a community. When preaching is an integrated element of a congregation’s faith formation program, it encourages faith formation to

Robert G. Hughes and Robert Kysar, Preaching Doctrine: For the Twenty-First Century, Fortress Resources for Preaching (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997), 16.
11

10

The Freedom of a Christian (1520), LW 31:371.

Stanley J. Grenz, A Primer on Postmodernism (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), 168-69.

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6 happen inside the communion of the faithful.13 Catechetical preaching encourages the congregation to identify faith formation as a communal activity and not the work of isolated individuals. Leaders in a Christian community have a responsibility to point Christians to reflect theologically on how God’s Word connects with their experiences. A sermon should point the people to respond to God at work in the Word. Catechetical preaching is an opportunity for the community to engage in this theological reflection in a cooperative manner and so build one another up in the promise of the good news of Jesus. Rationale It is my intention that this thesis will encourage myself and other Lutheran pastors to engage in catechetical preaching. I desire to identify successful catechetical preaching in order to find a way to preach sermons that support faith formation as a work of the Holy Spirit delivering God’s good gifts. My search for best practices will take us both on a historical journey to the catechetical sermons from the Reformation and a journey to my peers who are presently using catechetical sermons as an element of the faith formation program in their congregations. Demonstrating best practices for faith formation in the context of preaching will help restore catechesis as a lifelong identity for the baptized child of God. The catechetical sermons from the Reformation are a valuable resource to understand how we can support faith formation in the lives of listeners during a time when people are increasingly unchurched. The culture of Martin Luther’s time was
The writer of Hebrews noted that our proclamation of the good news of Jesus takes place within the witness of the community of saints that have gone before us: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1).
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7 certainly “churched,” but in terms of knowledge of God and the truths about God the culture was “unchurched.” A visitation of churches in Saxony “brought to light such a total decay of all Christian knowledge and of Christian instruction as even Luther had not anticipated.”14 This description of the Saxon Visitation is not far off from how I would describe my own community. Luther found that people were woefully equipped to relate to God or to one another. Realizing the decay of the Christian training of people Luther directed his efforts towards equipping people to share the victory of the gospel. Martin Luther wrote the Small Catechism to share the good news of the relationship between God and us.15 The Small Catechism was written during a time when many did not know the basics of the Christian faith and did not know how to understand their relationship with God or the world.16 He intended the catechism to provide the Christian a framework to read the Bible and to understand the world. Luther summarized and explained the teachings of God’s Word in a simple way in the Small Catechism and in the 16th century the influence of this catechism was spread largely through published catechetical sermons. I believe preachers in the 21st century can help people who struggle to understand their relationship with God and the world by using the catechism in their preaching. Presently, the church is being challenged by postmodernism. The communication of the truth of the Christian faith is challenged by an underlying viewpoint growing in our

F. Bente, Historical Introductions to the Lutheran Confessions: As Contained in the Book of Concord of 1580, 2nd ed. (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2005), 127. Mary Jane Haemig, “The Living Voice of the Catechism: German Lutheran Catechetical Preaching 1530-1580” (ThD Thesis, Harvard University, 1996), 101. Gerhard Bode, “Instruction of the Christian Faith by Lutherans after Luther,” in Lutheran Ecclesiastical Culture, 1550-1675, ed. Robert Kolb, vol. 11 (Boston: Brill, 2008), 180.
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8 culture that “humans share very little in common with each other, that you can’t count on any common features or interests across people that binds them together or gives them a basis on which to work out disagreements.”17 While social science refutes the concept of the isolated individual, postmodernism resists the idea of a communal truth. Resistance of communal, universal truth may limit the usefulness of teaching an individual the Christian faith as universal truth. This also may result in the Christian being dismissed on the presumption that no one should impose truth on another. A pastor may provide the lonely individual a shared experience in a community by preaching the basics of the Christian faith. Gene Edward Veith, in his book Postmodern Times, demonstrates that the church previously needed to defend its teachings from those that sought to attack or disprove the faith. Now the challenge for the church is the notion that any person or group can make a claim of truth. The church can confidently face this challenge with a voice that can reach across these struggles because “orthodox Christians have also lived in every age, confessing their faith in Jesus Christ. They were part of their culture…yet they also countered their culture, proclaiming God’s law and gospel to society’s inadequacies and points of need.”18 By proclaiming God’s law and gospel, pastors have an opportunity with their listeners to form a shared experience that will form a shared truth. Another challenge that catechetical preaching must confront is widespread ignorance of the Bible. The problem is not just that people do not know what the Bible

Christian Smith and Patricia Snell, Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 48. Gene Edward Veith, Postmodern Times: A Christian Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture, Turning Point Christian Worldview Series (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1994), xii.
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9 says but also that people do not know how to read the Bible. Robert Kolb has commented, Catechetical preaching becomes ever more important in a world in which many of our hearers have had little if any fundamental training in how to read Scripture (which is what “doctrine” really is – well, how to read the Bible, how read the world, how to read ourselves).19 Richard Osmer has also written about this design for catechisms to connect people to God and themselves. Catechisms, like confessions, represent second order reflection on the meaning of Scripture. They are designed to help persons gain competence in reading the Bible, discerning what parts are most important, and how to understand confusing passages in light of the canon as a whole.20 The challenge of Biblical ignorance is why Martin Luther employed catechesis in his preaching. Through the simple words of Luther’s Small Catechism, he gave the people a structure within which they heard the good news of Jesus. By understanding how my peers successfully engage in catechetical preaching, I hope to understand how catechetical preaching serves as a bridge between people entering the church and those struggling with continued affiliation. Because catechesis is “all about forming a Christian mind and heart in our people,”21 catechetical preaching will help incorporate people into life with God, life in the congregation, and life in the world. Therefore, my rationale for encouraging the catechetical sermon as an integrated part of the faith formation program of a congregation is to provide people a bridge into life in Christ and in the world.
19

See appendix E.

Richard R. Osmer, “Teaching the Catechism in the Children's Sermon: A New Possibility for Biblical and Theological Literacy,” Journal for Preachers 22, no. 4 (1999): 39. A. L. Barry, What Does This Mean? Catechesis in the Lutheran Congregation (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1996), 49.
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10 Definitions of Catechesis, Catechism and Catechetical Preaching Throughout this thesis the terms catechesis, catechism and catechetical preaching will be utilized. Catechesis The definition for catechesis involves fundamental religious instruction for the purpose of faith formation. John Pless, a professor at Concordia Theological Seminary at Fort Wayne, Indiana, defines catechesis as, “the process of transmitting the word of God so that the mind and life of the one who receives it grows up in every way into Jesus Christ, living in faith toward him and in love toward the neighbor.”22 Peter Bender, the founder of the Concordia Catechetical Academy, has also contributed to a definition of catechesis, Faithfully teaching the Word of God and passing on the language of our holy faith, so that the baptized learn how to receive God's gifts in the Divine Service, how to pray, how to confess, and how to live where God has called them—in the freedom of the forgiveness of sins, with faith in Christ and love to the neighbor. The goal of all catechesis is faith in Christ.23 These two men highlight the instrumental role teaching the Word of God has to equip us for life in Christ and in the world. The English word catechesis has been inherited from the Latin language, and the Latin language took the word directly from the Greek (κατηχέω). It is used by St. Paul several times to describe instruction in Christian doctrine on the basis of the gospel.24 It is

22

John T. Pless, “Catechesis for Life in the Royal Priesthood,” Logia 3, no. 4 (1994): 3.

Peter C. Bender, “Staff Page," Peace Lutheran Church, http://peacesussex.org/staff/ (ac cessed February 25, 2013).
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Rom 2:18; 1 Cor 14:19, Gal 6:6

11 a term that came to signify all fundamental religious instruction imparted by the church.25 A further exposition of how this word is used in the New Testament and the early church may be found in chapter two. Catechism The definition for catechism is simply the “pattern of sound words” that St. Paul directs Timothy to follow in 2 Timothy 1:13. In the Lutheran church since the Reformation the term catechism has been used to describe the content of teaching the basics of the Christian faith and the book containing that content. The basic content of the catechism includes the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, Baptism, Confession and Absolution, and the Lord’s Supper. The Ten Commandments reveal our sinfulness. The Creed proclaims God as the one who redeems us. The Lord’s Prayer demonstrates the devotional life that is found in God. Baptism, Absolution and the Lord’s Supper are the three ways that God promises to deliver to us the good news of our salvation in Jesus Christ. In the Lutheran church, the book containing the content of this basic teaching is almost exclusively understood as Luther’s Small Catechism and secondarily, the Large Catechism. Some may understand the term catechism as referring to the primary texts of these chief parts of the Christian faith, but often Luther’s explanations found in the Small Catechism and Large Catechism are included in a Lutheran’s understanding of the term catechism.

Johann Michael Reu, Catechetics: Or, Theory and Practice of Religious Instruction , 2nd ed. (Chicago: Wartburg Publishing House, 1927), 3.

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12 Catechetical Preaching The definition of catechetical preaching involves the proclamation of the good news of Jesus in order to equip a person to live in Christ and in the world. O. C. Edwards defines catechetical preaching as different from evangelistic preaching that is aimed towards those outside the church and also different from assembly preaching that is aimed towards the faithful. Catechetical preaching geographically is placed in the bridge between those on the outside and those on the inside.26 This distinct role of catechetical preaching can serve the present-day church by reminding us that our listeners are at times “insiders” and other times because of their experiences may be “outsiders.” Catechetical preaching has the possibility of bridging the gap between the new Christian and the seasoned Christian and shaping a community of believers. Craig Satterlee defines a style of preaching as catechetical when its purpose is the formation of a Christian, “Catechesis is distinct from teaching in that it involves more than conveying information. Its purpose is the formation of a Christian.”27 Catechetical preaching in this thesis will not be understood as a Bible study lesson during the sermon time of a worship service. Nor will catechetical preaching be understood as preaching that is empty of any foundation in the Scripture. Catechetical preaching will fall short of the desired outcome of forming the Christian faith in a person if the sermon simply transfers to the pulpit a classroom lecture. Gerhard Forde states that theology finds its purpose in proclamation.28 Catechetical preaching trusts the power of the Holy Spirit to
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O. C. Edwards, A History of Preaching (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2004), 184-85.

Craig Alan Satterlee, Ambrose of Milan's Method of Mystagogical Preaching (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2002), 127.
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Gerhard O. Forde, Theology Is for Proclamation (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990).

13 be at work in the proclamation of the Word of God to equip the listener to live confidently both in the communion of saints and in the world. Catechetical preaching studied in this thesis is topical preaching in which the sermon text is the catechism. This focus for catechetical preaching does not directly include lectionary preaching that may make passing reference to the catechism. It is likely though that regularly engaging in topical preaching from the catechism will result in more references to the catechism in the rest of preaching. This form of topical preaching is referenced by Martin Luther in one of his table talks when he comments, Often I preached four sermons on one day. During the whole of one Lent I preached two sermons and gave one lecture every day. This was when I first preached on the Ten Commandments to a large congregation, for to preach on the catechism was then a new and uncommon thing.29 Throughout his life, Luther would preach with parts of the catechism as the focus for his sermons. The shorter preface to the Large Catechism was based on Luther’s first series of catechetical sermons in 1528.30 Luther had an expectation that the catechism would not be learned just so that the primary texts could be recited. He expected that people would attend preaching so that the meanings of the chief parts of the Christian faith would be learned. For instance, Luther preached on the Lord’s Supper so that every Christian would know “where the Sacrament comes, what it effects, how it is to be used, and what it signifies.”31 Luther demonstrated in these sermons that he was not simply teaching the general idea of a sacrament but he was proclaiming God’s Word. He told pastors that

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Hard Work Can Make a Man Old (1538), in LW 54:282. Haemig, “The Living Voice of the Catechism: German Lutheran Catechetical Preaching 1530-

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1580,” 10. Aaron Moldenhauer, “A Translation and Analysis of Martin Luther's 1528 Catechetical Sermons on the Lord's Supper,” Concordia Journal 33, no. 1 (2007): 54.
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14 they had a responsibility to preach on the catechism.32 People can learn from Bible stories and sermons on the assigned lectionary texts, but Luther also believed that “working through the catechism was a clear and structured way of setting forth the goals of faith/life building… Through instruction on the basis of the catechism Luther intended to cultivate the Christian life.”33 Introduction to Research Methodology Utilized This project does not rely only on historic studies of catechetical preaching but also includes interviews with Lutheran pastors who are involved in catechetical preaching. Through studying the success cases of my peers who engage in catechetical preaching, I expect to show that it is still important for faith formation. The research methodology for this thesis follows Robert Brinkerhoff’s Success Case Method. This method is “designed to discover and document successful use of a program or innovation, then use these stories of success to influence others to try the program.”34 A more detailed explanation for why this method has been utilized may be found in chapter four. This project’s success-case study involved qualitative data gathering. Ninetyminute interviews were conducted with eight pastors identified by peers and supervisors as those who successfully engage in catechetical preaching. The interviews focused on the process and practice of catechetical preaching, including the pastors’ own experience of including catechesis in their preaching. The purpose of this research was to gather a

32

Haemig, “The Living Voice of the Catechism: German Lutheran Catechetical Preaching 1530 Bode, “Instruction of the Christian Faith by Lutherans after Luther,” 163.

1580,” 11.
33

Robert O. Brinkerhoff, The Success Case Method: Find out Quickly What's Working and What's Not (San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler, 2003), 200.

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15 composite picture of successful catechetical preachers and so develop resources and action steps to enable other pastors to include catechesis in their preaching. The primary research questions sought to answer how catechetical preaching was utilized to equip the listener to live confidently both in the Word of God and in the world. Scope of Thesis The scope of this thesis includes a study of the foundations for catechetical preaching and it explores the experiences of preachers seeking to utilize catechetical preaching. This thesis project does have limits. This project focuses more on the experience of the preachers and therefore the experience of the listeners comes from the perspective of the preachers interviewed. This study does not include prescriptions for any particular sermon structure to be utilized in catechetical preaching. The scope of this study is also limited by its exclusive study of Lutheran pastors conducting catechetical preaching. A. L. Barry, the President of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod from 1992-2001, commented in 1996 that scholars in the LCMS were studying the Roman Catholic Church’s Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. The goal of this study was to develop “a more structured and ‘holistic’ approach to catechesis with adults.”35 This 1996 LCMS study did not lead to significant change in the approach to adult catechesis in the LCMS. This thesis project may not lead to significant change in the number of LCMS pastors engaging in catechetical preaching, but I intend to demonstrate that catechetical preaching should be a purposeful element of faith formation in a congregation.

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Barry, What Does This Mean? Catechesis in the Lutheran Congregation, 68.

CHAPTER 2 BIBLICAL AND THEOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK Faith Comes By Hearing The Biblical framework for the thesis that catechetical preaching should be a purposeful element of a faith formation program in a congregation starts with the confidence that “faith comes from what is heard” (Rom 10:17). These words from Romans 10 shape my calling as a preacher of God’s Word because I believe that the proclaimed Word of God is not just a word for knowledge growth nor is it a word for emotional security. The Word of God is proclaimed for salvation, as St. Paul wrote, “Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved” (Rom 10:1). In this chapter, I will demonstrate that faith formation is the work of the Holy Spirit through the gospel of Jesus Christ. I will also contend that faith formation is not only about how a person trusts in Jesus unto salvation. Faith formation is also about continuing to equip a person to grow and develop in this life of faith. Catechetical preaching supports people living in both the kingdom of God and the world. I will show through a historical overview of catechesis in the early church and in the Reformation that catechetical preaching has been and continues to be a distinct form of preaching. Finally, the theological framework for catechetical preaching will be demonstrated as an act of both teaching and proclamation.

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17 Faith comes by hearing which demonstrates that preaching happens in the context of a community. Martin Luther taught that our believing rests upon hearing the Word of God from someone else.1 A person’s belief in God rests upon someone having shared God’s salvific word with him. This sharing of God’s Word occurs within a relationship. We are not created to be individuals. In Genesis 2:18, God declared, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” God has created us to be in community.2 John Pless comments on the role of the community of faith in catechizing, saying, We are Evangelical Lutherans, not Fundamentalists. Among things, that means it is not the presence of the Bible that locates the church and brings people to faith, but rather “the church is the assembly of saints in which the gospel is taught purely and the sacraments are administered” (AC VII, 1-2).3 St. Paul also wrote, “But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?” (Rom 10:14). We live in different times than St. Paul or Martin Luther, but our human nature has not changed. We are sinners in need of salvation and God promises to forgive us our sins through Jesus Christ. As the gospel is shared in preaching, the Holy Spirit is at work through the preacher. As the preacher trusts in the power of the Holy Spirit to be at work in the proclaimed Word, he intends to share the gospel in a way that is clear. Preaching doctrine as a series of facts can result in the listener identifying faith formation as a human work. The basics of the Christian faith are not simply facts to be
1

First Psalm Lectures (1513-1515), Psalm 85:7 LW 11:159

Robert Kolb, Teaching God's Children His Teaching: A Guide for the Study of Luther's Catechism, New ed. (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Seminary Press, 2012), 21.
3

2

Pless, “Catechesis for Life in the Royal Priesthood,” 3.

18 learned. Doctrine equips us to understand who God is and how he relates to us. The preacher will not connect people to Jesus, the central message, through a reasoned argument. All people are sinners, hostile to God.4 To the Romans, Paul wrote, “For the mind is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot” (Rom 8:7). Paul also wrote to the Corinthians, “Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor 2:14). Later in the same book he also wrote, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 12:3). The Holy Spirit is at work through the proclaimed Word of God. The formation of a person into a Christian is not successful when the preacher attempts to build a person up through a pursuit of knowledge or makes maturity of faith a human effort. Martin Luther said, “The Holy Scriptures require a humble reader who shows reverence toward the Word of God, and constantly says, ‘Teach me, teach me, teach me!’ The Spirit resists the proud.”5 A sermon that focuses on an article of the faith still must have the goal of connecting a person to Jesus. Specifically catechetical preaching does not succeed when it presents a series of points in proposition. I will support faith formation by connecting people to God’s Word. This goal can be obscured if the impression is given that the hearer is growing in Christ because she knows more information. The prideful pursuit of knowledge is not a mark of faith formation.

“This means that in this human nature, after the fall and before rebirth, there is not a spark of spiritual power left or present with which human beings can prepare themselves for the grace of God or accept grace as it is offered.” FC,SD 2:7, in BC, 544.
5

4

Table Talk Recorded by John Mathesius (1540), in LW 54:378.

19 Michael Spencer wrote with grave concern about the possibility of the collapse of evangelical Christianity because people are being equipped to ground their relationship with God and the world primarily upon their feelings. We Evangelicals have failed to pass on to our young people an orthodox form of faith that can take root and survive the secular onslaught. Ironically, the billions of dollars we’ve spent on youth ministers, Christian music, publishing, and media has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their own faith except how they feel about it. Our young people have deep beliefs about the culture war, but do not know why they should obey scripture, the essentials of theology, or the experience of spiritual discipline and community. Coming generations of Christians are going to be monumentally ignorant and unprepared for culture-wide pressures.6 John Pless responds to the need for faith to be grounded in the truth of God’s Word by saying, “Here the Small Catechism proves itself to be a reliable road map that our youth need to learn if they are to chart their course in the Scriptures in such a way that always leads to the morning star, Jesus Christ (2 Pt 1:19).”7 This project studies catechetical preaching because preaching is built on the confidence that people are led into the Christian faith through the Word of God. This faith producing Word of God is not just learned, but it is proclaimed. This chapter will discuss the role of catechesis and catechetical preaching in faith formation. A. L. Barry, commenting on the importance of catechesis to exist in a congregation as more than just in the confirmation program, wrote, “We have perhaps lost sight of this bigger picture when it comes to catechesis because, we have, understandably so, associated it so closely with the notion of confirmation.”8 Catechesis is about teaching the Christian faith. St.
Michael Spencer, “The Coming Evangelical Collapse," The Christian Science Monitor, http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2009/0310/p09s01-coop.html (accessed February 19, 2013).
7 6

Pless, “Catechesis for Life in the Royal Priesthood,” 4. Barry, What Does This Mean? Catechesis in the Lutheran Congregation , 9.

8

20 Paul exhorted Timothy to “hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 1:13). Pless identifies the exhortation of Timothy with the confidence that the Catechism “is not only a collection of essential doctrines, but the very pattern and shape of Christian doctrine.”9 Peter De Jong states, “The gospel was intended to elicit a whole-souled response from those who listened, in order that they might be sustained and strengthened in their struggles.”10 This chapter continues with a discussion that will briefly cover the Biblical and theological framework for catechesis in the Bible, in the history of the early church, the Reformation, and conclude with the affirmation that catechesis is the proclamation of the gospel. Catechesis in the Bible Living in Christian community will be demonstrated as a high priority of teaching the faith through a survey of the word catechesis and its synonyms in Scripture. St. Luke opened the first chapter of his gospel by telling Theophilus that these things are written, “so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed” (Luke 1:3). Luke demonstrates that Theophilus received instruction, and it is necessary to measure that instruction against the true witness of Jesus Christ. Catechetical preaching equips people to listen to God’s word. People will also find themselves equipped to have a dialogue with people outside of the church and discern the truth concerning the things about which they are experiencing. When Peter preached doctrine in his Pentecostal sermon, the people responded with a desire for conversation. They
John T. Pless, “The Small Catechism: Pattern and Shape of Christian Doctrine,” For the Life of the World 4, no. 4 (2000): 9. Peter Y. De Jong, “Comments on Catechetical Preaching (3),” Mid-America Journal of Theology 3, no. 1 (1987): 90.
10 9

21 asked Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do” (Acts 2:37)? This question is very similar to Luther’s catechetical question, “What does this mean?” Christians were first known as followers of the “Way” (Acts 9:2). This demonstrates that instruction in the Christian community was more than just imparting knowledge but also included sharing the foundations for living in church and in community. Acts 18 includes an introduction to Apollos. Apollos was a Jew who arrived in Ephesus with the ability to speak well, and he knew the Scriptures. He spoke with enthusiasm but in turn Priscilla and Aquila heard him, and they recognized that his preaching was incomplete. Acts 18 describes how he was taken aside by Priscilla and Aquila. They explained to Apollos more accurately the way of God. This model of instruction shows that enthusiasm and some knowledge are also to be shaped by the teaching of the community. A person does not learn the Christian faith individually but as a part of community. The pastor that regularly builds his preaching on the chief parts of the Christian faith equips the congregation to be alert to false teachers or teachers like Apollos who preached incompletely. St. Paul wrote to the Ephesians about the gifts that are given to the church by Jesus Christ. The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. (Eph 4:11-13) St. Paul demonstrates that the purpose for the gifts that Christ has given to the church include catechetical instruction. The proclamation of God’s Word and the teaching of God’s Word are joined together by St. Paul for the purpose of building up the unit y of the faith. Catechesis in a congregation supported by catechetical preaching, will demonstrate

22 that catechesis is more than just a classroom exercise; it is also part of living under the oversight of Christian community. St. Paul describes to Timothy that a minister in the church must be “apt to teach” (1 Tim 3:2). In this first letter to Timothy, teaching the faith is not just about ensuring that the members of the Christian community can pass a test of knowledge. Teaching the faith is about revealing the mystery of God in Christ Jesus. Timothy is told, “If you put these instructions before the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of faith and of the sound teaching that you have followed” (1 Tim 4:6). Timothy is also told, “For to this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe” (1 Tim 4:10). Catechetical preaching is a means for the preacher to nourish the people with words of faith and to share sound teaching with them so that their hope is not resting on false doctrine. Catechesis is an emphasis for the minister not just in the New Testament. The Old Testament also places a high priority on teaching. Moses learned from the Lord that the responsibility to teach did not just rest on his abilities but on the promised presence of the Lord (Exod 4:12). The Lord declared to Moses the purpose for delivering the commandments to the people on stone tablets: “I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction” (Exod 24:12). Leviticus 10:11 points out that the people were to be taught from these commandments and instructions. The approach in the Old Testament was to appeal to what God had done for the people and how the work of God shaped the identity of the people. The need to receive instruction in the commands and promises of God does not end when knowledge

23 is gained. The word of God is taught and proclaimed in catechesis benefits the congregation because it is the Holy Spirit providing the words and wisdom that lead to eternal life. Ongoing catechesis after baptism and confirmation are supported by Deuteronomy 17:19. Moses pointed out that instruction in the Lord is to be received “all the days of his life.” The people in the Old Testament were warned to be diligent in observing God’s commands because they found themselves continually surrounded by things contrary to God’s will. God cautioned the people to follow these commands, “so that they may not teach you to do all the abhorrent things that they do for their gods, and you thus sin against the Lord your God” (Deut 20:18). People today face challenges in understanding how to live in the promises of the kingdom of God while facing temptations to act against God’s will. In our own time, it is possible to believe that in the recent past the core values and assumptions of the church and the local culture overlapped, but that we are now entering a post-Christian environment. The caution from Deuteronomy is that catechesis can be taken for granted, and that people can be led away from God. Knowledge of the Torah was not assumed in the catechesis of the Old Testament. The Torah was consistently placed before the people. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut 11:19-20) In our days people need to be continually engaged in the Word of God and catechized in the Christian faith. It is dangerous to assume that at any period of time catechesis is unnecessary because the surroundings are sufficient to provide the core values and assumptions of the kingdom of God.

24 Sound teaching is encouraged in the Old Testament, including in the Psalms and in Proverbs. Psalm 119 is a prayer devoted to God that he would continue to instruct his people in his ways. The key to wisdom in Proverbs is found in instruction in the word.11 The preacher who avoids catechesis should take a moment to consider what his preaching is aiming towards. Proverbs 19:27 encourages us to look to the Lord’s words of knowledge, “Cease straying, my child, from the words of knowledge, in order that you may hear instruction.” The content of doctrinal instruction in the Old Testament was the Torah. The content of instruction in the New Testament was established by Jesus. In his resurrection appearances, he interpreted the Scriptures in how they witnessed to him. After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples and showed them how the law of Moses, the prophets and the psalms were fulfilled in him. On the walk to Emmaus Jesus began with “Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures” (Luke 24:27). Again when Jesus was eating with his disciples, he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. Jesus told his disciples, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled…You are witnesses of these things” (Luke 24:44,48). Just as Luke introduced Theophilus to the reason for writing this book, “so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed” (Luke 1:4), Luke concludes his Gospel by demonstrating that Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise given in the Scriptures.

11

Barry, What Does This Mean? Catechesis in the Lutheran Congregation , 13.

25 In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus told his disciples, “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 teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” The nations are brought into the kingdom of God by baptizing and teaching. The authorization for the disciples to participate in teaching all that Jesus had commanded them demonstrates “the duty of continuously training and instructing those who by baptism had been inducted into the Christian fold so that their walk of life might ever more fully conform to their confession.”12 The way that teaching and proclamation are united in catechetical preaching can be demonstrated in the New Testament examples of sermons. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew teaches both the identity and the shape of a Christian life, but it also calls the listeners to trust in him to make this life a blessing. The snippets we have from Peter’s sermon to the people on the day of Pentecost show how proclaiming the forgiveness of sins can occur through theological reflection on Joel and the Psalms. Peter invites the listener to theologically reflect on how the promises of Jesus are a part of the promises of the Old Testament. He calls people to repent and believe in the gospel. He builds this call to faith on a bridge built on the promises of the prophets. Paul in the Areopagus taught the Athenians about the power of God at work. Paul called people to faith by building a bridge between their longing for God and having faith in the Lord God.

12

Reu, Catechetics: Or, Theory and Practice of Religious Instruction , 16.

26 1 Peter is understood by some critics to be an example of catechetical preaching.13 This epistle demonstrates a desire to build up of a community of believers. Peter helps the community understand themselves in relationship with the suffering of Christ. This letter by Peter demonstrates that catechetical preaching invites the listener to engage in theological reflection on how God’s word is at work in his or her own life. Brief History of Catechesis The history of catechesis in the early church is tightly connected with preparations for baptism. J. Michael Reu writes about the development of the catechumenate. A graduated catechumenate developed with a distinction between applicants for baptism and catechumens. A person could remain a catechumen for a lengthy period of time because concerns about sins committed after baptism resulted in some long stays as a catechumen. A person enrolled as a catechumen received general instruction in Christianity and was observed in regard to his sincerity and moral conduct.14 The next step was to begin attending the Christian services and catechetical lectures that involved “historical survey of the kingdom of God from creation to the present, and the inculcation of the mandates of true morality.”15 After the introductory catechetical work was finished the catechumen was introduced into the Christian faith and life through attendance in missa catechumenorum (public worship service of Scripture reading and sermon).16 The final stage of the catechumenate involved an announcement to the bishop at the
Hughes Oliphant Old, The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998), 236-38.
14 13

Reu, Catechetics: Or, Theory and Practice of Religious Instruction , 28-29. Ibid., 34. Ibid.

15

16

27 beginning of Lent declaring the desire to be baptized. The bishop or another priest would engage in prebaptismal instruction. Reu explains how our knowledge about the content of these prebaptismal lectures comes from Cyril through the Catecheses of Cyrillus of Jerusalem, i.e., discourses delivered by him to competentes in 348 when he was presbyter at Jerusalem. These lectures may well be considered “the typical catechetical sermons of antiquity.”17 These lectures, it is understood, were “likely based on the Jerusalem creed, the creed itself figuring in the initiation rite. In the liturgical act of handing over of the creed the catechumens were told to retain it ‘in the memory of the heart.”18 John Chrysostom also sought to prepare candidates for baptism, and the aim of these lectures was to inform the candidates for baptism on the “nature and effect of baptism and to arouse them to a life in harmony with the Christian confession.”19 Origen was taught the Bible through participation in family devotions led by his father and also by accompanying his parents to the worship service of the church. Joseph William Trigg describes Origen’s experience at these services having a distinctly catechetical character. At least on Sundays and fast days. Origen would have accompanied his parents to the common worship of the church at Alexandria .... There were prayers and hymns. But the chief feature of these services was the exposition of the Bible. A qualified teacher read aloud extended passages from the Old and New Testaments. Immediately after each reading, he expounded the meaning of each passage to the congregation in a sermon .... If the evidence of Origen's own preaching many years later is a guide, the sermons in the ordinary services of instruction may have been designed to provide catechetical instruction.20
17

Ibid., 37.

Kilian McDonnell and George T. Montague, Christian Initiation and Baptism in the Holy Spirit: Evidence from the First Eight Centuries (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991), 192.
19

18

Reu, Catechetics: Or, Theory and Practice of Religious Instruction , 37. Joseph William Trigg, Origen (Atlanta, GA: John Knox PRess, 1983), 10.

20

28 Reu’s history of religious instruction establishes the difficulty of maintaining the early church model for the adult catechumenate program moving into the Middle Ages. The catechumenate was developed in the individualized culture of the Greco-Roman world, when a person joined the church when he inwardly was convinced of the truth of Christianity. The missionary environment of the Middle Ages involved nations and tribes following the decision of an individual leader. In this setting a catechumenate program did not match what was happening on the ground. Baptismal instruction for adults was lacking, and there was not a clearly developed program of instruction for those baptized in infancy. Catechetical instruction was needed. The catechumenate program of the Greco-Roman did not fit the context of the Middle Ages. Reforms did occur to resolve this tension. During the time of Charlemagne, there were reforms that demanded a period between seven and forty days for instruction in preparation for baptism.21 Our current cultural context matches more to the individualized environment of the Greco-Roman world than the nation transformation of the missionary movements of the early medieval period. Today’s catechetical preaching to a congregation and community happens in a context of people struggling with individual identity can look at the framework of catechesis in the early church. Up until the 12th century, much of the focus for religious instruction involved preparation for baptism. After the crusades, awareness developed of the need for ongoing instruction in the Christian faith and how to bring this faith into conversation with surrounding cultures. Focus was brought to the instruction expected of parents and baptismal sponsors. The Fourth Lateran Council (1215) required all children at least

21

Reu, Catechetics: Or, Theory and Practice of Religious Instruction , 63.

29 seven years old to go to confession at least once a year and to commune on Easter Sunday. The conversations that priests would have with children during confession would help the priests determine what kind of instruction the children received at home. Manuals were published to assist priests in this examination. The examination was called catechismus, which is a reminder that the examination was supposed to be a time of teaching. In some communities, it was expected that the priest would preach on catechism topics to equip the parents to engage in instruction of the children at home.22 Historic Setting of Catechesis in the Reformation By the time of Martin Luther, many manuals were available to provide catechetical instruction. Often these manuals would include “formulas for good living, model questions and answers, lists of commands and prohibitions… But the core of the Catechism of the medieval church consisted of four items: the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Hail Mary.”23 This core of four items served as the foundation for Christian instruction, catechetical preaching and as a means to evaluate the competence of parish priests. In the 1510’s and 1520’s Martin Luther regularly preached on “key elements of Christian life and practice, such as the Apostles’ Creed and the sacraments, baptism and the Lord’s Supper.”24 Before the Small Catechism and the Large Catechism were published in 1529, in 1517 and 1518 Luther preached a series of sermons that defined the approach he would

22

Ibid., 74-75. Kolb, Teaching God's Children His Teaching: A Guide for the Study of Luther's Catechism , 22.

23

Charles P. Arand, James Arne Nestingen, and Robert Kolb, The Lutheran Confessions: History and Theology of the Book of Concord (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2012), 62.

24

30 take in catechesis.25 Catechetical preaching was a purposeful part of faith formation for the Lutheran reformers. Luther knew “good preaching was vital to repentance and reform, so he prepared ‘postils,’ books of sermons which could serve as models for evangelical preaching.”26 Luther’s focus on distributing examples of evangelical preaching demonstrated his trust that the faithful people of God are renewed through the proclaimed Word of God. Luther trusted that the royal priesthood of believers live under the oversight of the pastoral office. When Luther sought to rectify the ignorance of Christian faith in the parishes of Saxony, he began with preaching. Luther was confident that “the sermon functions as God’s delivery of grace to those who hear.”27 Following the 1527 Saxon visitations, Luther recognized the immediate need for a catechetical handbook to combat the ignorance of basic Christian teaching among the parishes of Saxony. The catechism was a resource familiar to the reformers and provided Luther the way to move the Reformation from “the village altar into the family kitchen, literally bringing instruction in the faith home to the intimacies of family life.”28 Luther’s task of preparing to write his handbook began by “preaching three series of catechetical sermons, in May, September, and December of 1528.”29 He then prepared

25

Kolb, Teaching God's Children His Teaching: A Guide for the Study of Luther's Catechism, 23. Ibid.

26

Robert Christman, “The Pulpit and the Pew,” in Lutheran Ecclesiastical Culture, 1550-1675, ed. Robert Kolb, vol. 11 (Boston: Brill, 2008), 267. On this page Christman also points out, “all of the authors of the Haustafel literature use the term Zuhörer (which means literally ‘listener’) rather than Pfarrkinder (which means ‘the pastor’s children’) to describe parishioners.”
28

27

James Arne Nestingen, Martin Luther: A Life (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Books, 2003), 76. Kolb, Teaching God's Children His Teaching: A Guide for the Study of Luther's Catechism , 25.

29

31 the Small Catechism and the Large Catechism to transform lives through the proclamation of God’s Word.30 Through this format, Luther provided a brief summary of God’s Word, “for the Catechism is intended to be nothing more than a vessel for conveying the fundamental concepts and teaching of the Bible.”31 The Lutheran Reformation did not begin with an attempt to systematically overhaul the life of the existing church community. Luther did not seek to establish a doctrinal textbook that could be learned to demonstrate divisions from other churches. For Luther, the Catechism is a prayer-book, not merely a book of doctrine. The Catechism is an enchiridion, a handbook for living the baptismal life. Catechesis is the training in living as a baptized child of God, not just the accumulation of facts. The central error that we have made in catechesis is to treat it as an academic process rather than our patterning of living in our baptism. We have treated the Catechism as a textbook rather than a prayerbook. Consequently, many adults, including pastors, view the Catechism as a book for children and not for us, as if it were a book like other school books--something to be tolerated until graduation and the discarded. This problem is further compounded when pastors who do seek to use the Catechism concentrate on explanations of the Catechism rather than on the Catechism itself.32 Luther did not aim to write an academic theological summary. He was “convinced that God was transforming all things, went to work on a much more proximate goal proportional to the doctoral oath he had taken in 1512: his project was to improve the preaching of parish priests.”33

Haemig, “The Living Voice of the Catechism: German Lutheran Catechetical Preaching 1530 1580,” 100.
31

30

Kolb, Teaching God's Children His Teaching: A Guide for the Study of Luther's Catechism , 26. Pless, “The Small Catechism: Pattern and Shape of Christian Doctrine,” 22.

32

Arand, Nestingen, and Kolb, The Lutheran Confessions: History and Theology of the Book of Concord, 63.

33

32 Luther, in a noteworthy shift, changed the order of the catechism to reflect the movement from law to gospel. Timothy Wengert points out that Luther wanted to move the language of faith away from the musts towards the work of God. The old order was the order of musts—from creed to commandments to prayer. Here is what you must believe, here’s what you must do; now that you feel guilty, here are the right words to pray. The new order was the order of baptism: from death to resurrection, from terror to faith and comfort; from commandments to creed, that is, from law to gospel.34 James Nestingen also points out that this order was not about the priority of theological information but about the order of experience. Rather, as [Luther’s] own statement makes clear, his purpose was to follow the order of experience: life begins, is lived, and ends under the force of law; the gospel enters the realm of the law as an alien word, giving the faith, hope, and love necessary to live in such a context; prayer arises as both necessity and gift in life lived between law and gospel.35 Luther’s Small Catechism gained influence in Germany and beyond its boundaries during the 16th century and later because of published catechetical sermons. These sermons had a powerful influence in spreading the Reformation because they proclaimed, “everything the Christian needs for a life of faith in the love of God and for the promotion of the gospel.”36 The importance of catechetical preaching for faith formation continues to be witnessed in the first few hundred years of Lutheranism by how these communities expected their pastors to preach regularly with the catechism as a sermon text. Lutheran preachers in the 16th century did not see catechetical preaching as the conveying of

Timothy J. Wengert, Martin Luther's Catechisms: Forming the Faith (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2009), 6.
35

34

James Arne Nestingen, “Preaching the Catechism,” Word & World 10, no. 1 (1990): 36. Bode, “Instruction of the Christian Faith by Lutherans after Luther,” 171.

36

33 information. In the 16th and 17th centuries, catechetical preaching continued and was mandated by church law in many places.37 Catechetical preaching was done because “a life of faith was to be the outgrowth of law and gospel as explicated in the catechism.”38 In the introduction to a sermon series on the catechism, John Vieths notes that both church orders in Halle in 1573 and Ostfriesland in 1716 required the churches to include catechetical preaching. Some congregations would hold multiple services on a Sunday to allow for catechetical instruction, and other congregations would hold weekday services at intervals throughout the year when there would be a series of sermons on the catechism.39 Catechesis as Proclamation A beginning point for my Lutheran understanding of catechetical preaching is that it proclaims the Word of God in conversation with the Lutheran Confessions to equip the listener to live confidently in the Word of God and in the world. A pastor that references the Lutheran Confessions should not do so in order only explain the past doctrinal formulations of the church. While all sermons should share present-tense good news of God, a catechetical sermon will be successful when it proclaims the good news of God in a way that bridges the listener from being outside of the confession of the church into a community where there is a theological conversation between the world, the Scriptures and the confessions of the church. O. C. Edwards writes, “It is not enough for them to know and understand what Christians believe on a particular subject; they must come to
37

Ibid., 179. Christman, “The Pulpit and the Pew,” 301.

38

John Vieths, “Preaching the Catechism - Wels,” (1994), archive.wels.net/s3/.../vieths__preaching_the_catechism.rtf (accessed July 27, 2012).

39

34 accept that as their own belief, and allow that belief to become the motivating factor for their behavior.”40 Catechetical preaching should be proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ and not just a pious exhortation to right belief. Preaching does not just explain past formulations of doctrine as history so that the listener may understand them. Successful forms of this preaching convey the doctrines of the church to exhort the listener to a Christian excellence that builds on the promises of God. A preacher in the pulpit is more than just a teacher. The preacher is bringing into that moment God’s Word so that “for every catechetical sermon the sine-qua-non is that it shall be a ‘sermon.’”41 Successful catechetical preaching shares the doctrine of the church with trust that it is by the work of the Holy Spirit that a relationship between the hearer and God is formed. Spirit-filled preaching points the hearer to Jesus Christ and so does more than just talk about Jesus. C. F. W. Walther wrote about the need for preaching to do more than describe the faith: What good is it if someone tells me: “There is a great treasure. Go get it! All you have to do is haul it off,” yet he does not tell me where the treasure is, how to get there, what methods to use to get it. Then I would say, “Enough of your foolish talk about your treasure!”42 While it may be difficult to move beyond simply describing the faith, catechetical preaching maintains the present tense good news of Jesus Christ and ensures that the Confessions do not simply describe God. Faith formation is supported in preaching because engaging the promises of God at work in Jesus forms faith. Gerhard Forde wrote,

40

Edwards, A History of Preaching, 84. De Jong, “Comments on Catechetical Preaching (3),” 94.

41

C. F. W. Walther et al., Law and Gospel: How to Read and Apply the Bible (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2010), 179.

42

35 One preaches a description of faith, or the experience of faith, or the nature of the Christian life, or currently, spirituality in tones stirring and even momentarily inspiring, but which all too often have little or nothing to do with actuality.43 For instance, catechetical preaching will invite faith formation because it does not just describe the faith but delivers the object of faith, Jesus Chris. Timothy Wengert points out that Martin Luther “preached on various parts of the catechism both before, and after the Reformation began. He assumed that people ought to know the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer… Luther did more than simply preserve cherished catechetical traditions—he re-formed them, making them evangelical in the process.”44 The purpose of catechetical preaching is to shape the Christian life in movement from repentance, to faith, to prayer. People are daily confronted with challenges to how they view the world. The catechism question, “What does this mean?” creates an opportunity for theological reflection and conversation. The catechism demonstrates that the internal struggles of the individual to find meaning in the church and in the world is answered by the external word of God. The leader in a Christian community serves the spiritual needs of the people when he points people to theologically reflect on the world and the word. Presuppositions will frame and shape our engagement with the Word of God. Catechesis will help set our theological reflections on the work of Christ in the present context of the listener. Catechesis will help bridge the listener to a relationship with God by shaping that relationship with the truth. In fact, the etymology for the Latin word for priest, pontifex, means “bridge-builder.”

43

Forde, Theology Is for Proclamation, 137. Wengert, Martin Luther's Catechisms: Forming the Faith, 4.

44

36 The Christian identity of the listeners will be formed on a solid foundation when the proclamation of the good news is built on the truth of God’s word. This foundation is not built on historical studies but on the proclamation of the good news that Christ has forgiven our sins. Martin Luther did not talk about the gospel and the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper as theological topics to be studied. Luther understood the participatory nature of the gospel. While engaged in these liturgical acts, we are not in the rational/systematic mode that inclines us to tease out and resolve contradictions in our religious confessions that may make us questions and doubt. We are in a participatory mode; we are actors in the collective drama of redemptions.45 Proclamation seeks to bring the listener into a relationship with God, and catechesis seeks to ensure that this bridge of relationship is built on truth. Catechesis in preaching is not just a pragmatic decision, but a decision built on the confidence that proclaiming the truth transforms lives. For a long time, the doctrine of the church as presented in the catechism has “glowered at us menacingly”46 as an object of memory tests and public examinations. There is the possibility that a renewal of catechetical preaching that is centered around the proclamation of the good news of Jesus can help the personal piety of people build on the truth of the Word of God. Richard Jensen points out that there is a need to change the way we communicate the faith in our era. “It is the shift from a literate to a post-literate communications culture that calls forth changes in the way we conceptualize the

Richard Marius, Martin Luther: The Christian between God and Death (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999), 207.
46

45

Nestingen, “Preaching the Catechism,” 33.

37 preaching task in our time.”47 James Nestingen urges a shift in preaching the catechism. He wants preachers to be watchful for a desire to repristinate an era of Lutheran orthodoxy. These sermons need to speak to the people where they are today and not just provide a facsimile of a sermon delivered 400 years ago. Nestingen wrote about his desire that catechetical preaching occurs “to see the catechism simile—to listen to it preach—and then to consider preaching its own paradigm for the hearer both within and beyond the Christian community.”48 Catechetical preaching provides a framework for developing a shared language in a community of faith and also equipping the congregation to speak to those outside of the community of faith. Preachers who engage in catechetical preaching can be confident that they are not utilizing the resource of a sectarian confession. The chief parts of the Christian faith explained in Luther’s Small Catechism can help a person to trust in the mercy of God and confidently share this good news with others. Ellen Charry, from a study of the book of Ephesians, encourages Christian leaders “to help believers drink of the majestic power and mercy of God so that God defines believers’ dignity and directs their responsibilities to one another, now that they are the dwelling place of God.”49 Catechetical preaching defines the proclamation of the good news of Jesus within the context of biblical and theological concepts. The Word of God and the Lutheran confessions shape the biblical and theological concepts for catechetical preaching for a Lutheran pastor because both keep the preacher
Richard A. Jensen, Thinking in Story: Preaching in a Post-Literate Age (Lima, OH: CSS Publishing, 1993), 46.
48 47

Nestingen, “Preaching the Catechism,” 34.

Ellen T. Charry, By the Renewing of Your Minds: The Pastoral Function of Christian Doctrine (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 57.

49

38 pointed to the center, salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Kolb wrote about the normative nature of the Lutheran confessions for Lutherans stating, “The Book of Concord draws all its adherents into the active public confessions of their faith in Jesus Christ. It orients their confession and teaching around Jesus Christ and the message of forgiveness and life which He is and brings.”50 The confessions of the Lutheran church should be normative for all Lutheran preaching. The confessions can also be the effective bridge for the conversation between the Word and the world, by helping us answer the question, “What does this mean?” As a preacher I seek to prepare my congregation for their departure from the pew into situations where the meaning of faith is challenged. When Jesus prepared his disciples for his departure, he instructed them to remain faithful to him, saying, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (John 14:23). The continued presence of Jesus within the church is found in the continued encounter with him in the Word and sacraments. The doctrines of the church are not just tired formulations; the doctrines of the church introduce us to Jesus. Kolb looks back to the reformers and how they connected the normative nature of the Scripture and the formation of articles of faith and observed: It was inevitable that the church would divide the teaching of the Bible into topics as it sought to answer various questions and study specific subjects in the Bible. The power of God’s Word remained the vital center of Luther’s understanding of it. He never tired of proclaiming the Word because he believed that through preaching, teaching, confessing it God’s power is set loose in the world.51
Robert Kolb, Confessing the Faith: Reformers Define the Church, 1530-1580, Concordia Scholarship Today (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1991), 40.
51 50

Ibid., 22.

39 The organization of the Bible into doctrinal formulations does not dilute the Word but equips the church to bring the Word into an encounter with the struggles of the people. A pastor needs to consider how to move beyond the theoretical level of talking about ideas. To keep the catechetical preaching moving towards proclamation the past doctrinal formulations are brought into the present reality of the hearer. C. F. W. Walther, the first president of the LCMS, explained the importance of the preacher to bring the Scriptures to the context of the listener by writing, “If you wish to be an orthodox teacher, you must present all the articles of faith in accordance with Scripture, yet [you] must also rightly distinguish Law and Gospel.”52 Rightly distinguishing law and gospel in the text is matched with integrating this law and gospel distinction into the experience of the listener. How well am I equipping my congregation to engage in theological reflection if I do not share with them how the church has understood the work of Christ? We find our identity and formation in the kingdom of God through Christ, but our identity and formation in the kingdom of God are not an individual acts. We are part of the communion of saints. We live within a conversation with the gospel that is shaped by the stream of past and present conversations about who God is and what he is doing. Faith formation in preaching does not just explain past doctrinal formulations but creates a conversation between our present struggles, God’s Word, and how the community of the faithful has engaged the Scripture. Vainly, people may want a unique encounter with the gospel unencumbered by past interpretations of these promises. The creed that says, “No creed but the Bible,” demonstrates a longing to engage in a

52

Walther et al., Law and Gospel: How to Read and Apply the Bible, 2.

40 relationship with the promises of God with this relationship being framed only by God. In reality, we all encounter the gospel with presuppositions. Catechetical preaching assumes that we are not blind listeners of the gospel. We will see the gospel at work in our days through the lens of our past experiences. Catechetical preaching takes place within the conversation between our personal presuppositions and adds to the conversation the norming of the confessions.

CHAPTER 3 LITERATURE REVIEW This chapter will discuss the literature on catechetical preaching. In order to do this, I identified current studies on catechetical preaching as historical studies of catechetical forms of the past, Roman Catholic studies on catechetical preaching to equip the faithful to live vibrant Christian lives, studies that look at how preaching doctrine can occur in our postmodern times, and literature that speaks to the Lutheran context of catechetical preaching. One question that is answered by the historical studies of catechetical preaching is whether catechetical preaching is even a distinct form of preaching. All preaching will be shaped by doctrine. But is there specifically a form of preaching unique to catechesis? Alistair Stewart-Sykes identifies in the origins of Christian preaching a development of three distinct forms: missionary preaching, preaching to the assembly of faithful, and catechetical preaching. Preaching is an inspired activity, and Stewart-Sykes believes the function of homilies in the earliest Christian communities “was the up-building of the believing Christian.”1 Catechesis and preaching were not distinctly different events. Stewart-Sykes points to the evidence of Acts 20:7-12, 1 Timothy 4:11ff, and Colossians 3:16-17 to establish that New Testament era preaching included catechesis. As the Christian community began to develop distinct from the synagogue environment,
Alistair Stewart-Sykes, From Prophecy to Preaching: A Search for the Origins of the Christian Homily, vol. 59, Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae (Boston: Brill, 2001), 13.
1

41

42 different preaching forms began to become distinguishable. 1 Clement indicates a separation between preaching and catechetical teaching.2 Tertullian’s catechetical address on baptism and the Lord’s Prayer indicate that in the African church catechesis took place within preaching.3 Conversational catechetical preaching did take place and was distinguished from liturgical preaching to the assembly.4 J. Michael Reu’s book on catechesis describes Cyril of Jerusalem providing prebaptismal lectures that are understood as catechetical sermons.5 Indeed in the early church there was an experience of using preaching to invigorate the Christian community toward a particular ethical direction and theological proof. Catechetical preaching developed as purposeful conversation that encouraged the faithful to build on the words of God. This structure is distinctly different from the basis of preaching as the living voice of God present in the liturgical life of the assembly. O. C. Edwards make the point that catechetical preaching served to bridge the difference between missionary preaching and liturgical preaching. There was an actual geography to the preaching context. Missionary preaching took place outside of the congregation assembled in worship. Liturgical preaching occurred for the assembly gathered in worship. Catechetical preaching bridged the gap between those outside the Christian assembly and those within.6 The geography of this preaching reminds me of the spiritual need for people to be guided through the Scriptures. People are saved through the
2

Ibid., 19. Ibid., 20. Ibid., 25. Reu, Catechetics: Or, Theory and Practice of Religious Instruction , 37. Edwards, A History of Preaching, 184-85.

3

4

5

6

43 proclamation of the good news of Jesus. Then a person may begin to reflect on the experience of meeting Jesus in the proclamation of the gospel and ask, “What does this mean?” Catechetical preaching provides this person a framework to live in Christ and in the daily rhythm of living in the world as a child of God. George Bass, in an article that seeks to understand the evolution of the story sermon, noted that H. Grady Davis in 1958 identified the three functional forms for preaching as “proclamation, teaching, and therapy.”7 Bass then identifies that in the revival of Roman Catholic preaching after Vatican II, the threefold function of preaching has also been emphasized. “First, preaching to non-Christians (missionary preaching) call for proclamation of the Gospel; second, preaching to immature believers (catechization) takes the form of teaching the Word; and third, preaching to mature Christians (to renew and build up their faith) is liturgical preaching."8 Is it possible for a catechetical sermon to proclaim the gospel and not just explain the gospel? Bass identifies the evolution of the story sermon hinging on the need for proclamation of the gospel, not just explanations of the gospel. In the Roman Catholic Church, catechetical preaching is understood by Michael Joncas to have the role of “empowering worshippers to work through (perhaps for the first time) the implications and consequences of the faith that they have embraced.”9 Joncas is concerned that catechetical preaching “has been aimed at inculcating religious doctrine into children rather than forming adolescent and adult imaginations in Christian
7

George M. Bass, “The Evolution of the Story Sermon,” Word & World 2, no. 2 (1982): 183. Ibid., 185.

8

Michael Joncas, Preaching the Rites of Christian Initiation, Forum Essays 4 (Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications in cooperation with the North American Forum on the Catechumenate, 1994), 16.

9

44 faith.”10 The challenge of how to preach in such a way that brings people into continuity with the conversation of the church must be met in preaching. Catechetical preaching in the Roman Catholic Church is especially focused on the journey of the catechumenate in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), and is encouraged to invite the listeners to contemplatively engage with the Christian structuring of life.11 RCIA is the process for older children and adults to be introduced to the Roman Catholic Church. The catechesis studies of the Roman Catholic Church have given me confidence that catechetical preaching can proclaim the work of God and not simply describe the work of God. During catechesis, the preacher will tell the Christian story, Christian practices, and Christian structuring of life, but the preacher also invites the listener to explore the implications of being a part of this story, adopting these practices, and contemplatively engaging in structuring his or her own life within a Christian framework. Linda Ritzer recently completed a thesis titled, “Catechesis and preaching: A collaborative partnership in the ministry of the Word.” She writes from the perspective of a catechist in the Roman Catholic Church. She defines differences between catechists and preachers, but she demonstrates that catechists are best prepared by being giving the methods and tools used in preaching formation. 12 I believe it is also possible to consider that preachers need to be reminded that the primary task of catechesis is to initiate believers into living the fullness of the Christian life.

10

Ibid. Ibid., 31.

11

Linda Lee Ritzer, “Catechesis and Preaching: A Collaborative Partnership in the Ministry of the Word” (DMin Thesis, Aquinas Institute of Theology, 2011).

12

45 This distinct role of catechetical preaching can serve the present-day church by reminding us that our listeners are at times “insiders” and other times because of their experiences may be “outsiders.” Catechetical preaching has the possibility of bridging the gap between the new Christian and the seasoned Christian and shaping a community of believers. In his book on the role of the creed for the church today, Luke Timothy Johnson identifies the importance of understanding the gap between the people that are in the faith and those that feel that they are on the outside. Johnson seeks from the creed the same function found by the ancient practice of catechetical preaching. The creed that is confessed by the people functions to bridge the gap because it brings unity to doctrine and practice. The creed can still help a community integrate doctrine and practice. Luke Timothy Johnson writes, Because the creed constructs the world as one created by God the Father, saved by Jesus Christ his Son, and given life by the Holy Spirit, it also supports and guides the practices of the Christian community. It does not prescribe a full set of Christian practices. It does not tell a Christian how to pray or act in the world. But it does establish the right belief (orthodoxy) that lets us recognize right practice (orthopraxy). By providing an epitome of Scripture, the creed provides a bridge between the complex witness of Scripture and the moral lives of believers.13 Johnson seeks that the creed becomes a bridge into Scripture. Though the preacher may focus on a chief part of the Christian faith, the sermon still must be born from the Scriptures. Studies in doctrinal preaching tend to focus on how to maintain the tension between proclamation of the sermon as an encounter with God and engaging the listener with the doctrinal formulations of the church. Fred Craddock warns, “Sermons

Luke Timothy Johnson, The Creed: What Christians Believe and Why It Matters, 1st ed. (New York: Doubleday, 2003), 161.

13

46 not informed and inspired by Scripture are objects dislodged, orphans in the world, without mother or father.”14 The catechetical preacher must be cautious that he does not artificially import a doctrine into the Scriptures. Robert Smith, a professor of Christian preaching at Beeson Divinity School, adds significantly to the discussion of how doctrinal preaching can magnify Christ so that listeners of a sermon are brought into the transformative presence of God. He writes, “The preacher must lift doctrine out of a passage instead of infusing a passage with foreign doctrine.”15 The preacher must remain faithful to the meaning and purpose of the text. Smith also wrote, “We must reclaim the mantle of doctrine in our preaching. It is a birthright that was given to us by our Lord. He said, ‘…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”16 The articles of faith that we preach are not foreign to the text. When we preach doctrinally we are fulfilling the great commission. Smith adds that doctrinal preaching should maintain the “doctrinal dictionary because the definitions of those terms are paralleled in God’s Word.”17 The preacher may need to do some translation work for a biblically illiterate audience, but he must be cautious that he does not make the text say something different from the author’s original intent. He writes that this translation work is precisely how the prophets proclaimed doctrine to people. Doctrinal preacher must teach doctrine the way the Lord taught doctrine: engaging the minds of the people with familiar language that made the strange

14

Fred B. Craddock, Preaching (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1985), 27. Smith, Doctrine That Dances: Bringing Doctrinal Preaching and Teaching to Life, 20. Ibid., 52. Ibid., 74.

15

16

17

47 doctrinal concepts seem terribly familiar to their deepest desires, longings, and fears.18 It is possible to focus on a chief part of the Christian faith and be scriptural in preaching because the Scriptures shape the chief parts of the Christian faith. If it is not possible to be scriptural in content when preaching doctrine, then that doctrine is not of God. Richard Caemmerer, a pivotal professor of homiletics in the LCMS, wrote about the need for doctrinal preaching to be inspired by the Scripture. “The preacher whose mind is charged with Scripture and not merely with the abstractions of dogma will be able to construct courses that serve not simply to portray doctrine but to bring the power of the Gospel to bear on people.”19 A continued study of the literature will help a person understand how others have incorporated preaching into the faith formation program of a congregation. It is noteworthy that Lutherans are not the only ones interested in catechetical preaching. There is a tradition of catechetical preaching with the Heidelberg Catechism in the reformed tradition. Many Reformed churches have maintained the tradition of catechetical services and use the Heidelberg Catechism for these services. The fourth edition of this catechism categorized readings to be used on Sunday afternoon services. From its origins, the Heidelberg Catechism had a clearly developed three-part structure: I—Human Misery; II—Deliverance; III—Gratitude. But with the fourth edition, editors overlaid it with a secondary structure, featuring 52 "Lord's Days." These smaller groupings were intended to provide topical segments for study spanning a full year's weekly congregational gatherings. The delegates of Dordtrecht declared that all of the Reformed churches were to have sermons explaining the contents of these Lord's Days, in succession, each Sunday afternoon. That practice has been enshrined in nearly every Reformed Church
18

Ibid.

Richard R. Caemmerer, Preaching for the Church (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1959), 167.

19

48 order since the Synod of Dordtrecht and continues as a regular practice in many Reformed churches today.20 Peter De Jong, from a Reformed perceptive, wrote in a series of articles in the “MidAmerica Journal of Theology” about the need for catechetical preaching to continue. Because the church in many instances has failed to teach the message of God’s grace in Christ Jesus, ours is an age filled with hungering men and women who vainly search for some life-sustaining word…When the abiding truth of God is neglected, emasculated and even denied in the church, it will be increasingly crucified on the street.21 He is concerned that the word of life and truth continue to be brought to the hearts and lives of young and old. I also examine the literature from my own context as a Lutheran pastor. As a Lutheran pastor I look in the literature to understand the multiple functions of preaching while also understanding that the standard for Lutheran preaching in my denomination is the proper distinction of law and gospel. The law/gospel hermeneutic pushes all preaching to serve the proclamation of the gospel. C. F. W. Walther wrote, “Every sermon must contain both doctrines. As soon as one of them is missing, the other is wrong. For any sermon is wrong that does not present all that is necessary for a person’s salvation.”22 I bear the responsibility for the faith formation of my listeners if God is not proclaimed. Gerhard Forde wrote, “We can be honest about the fact that outside the proclamation God is something of an onerous burden.”23 Catechetical preaching in the

Wayne Brouwer, “Preaching the Heidelberg: A New Look at the Tradition of Catechetical Preaching," Reformed Worship, http://www.reformedworship.org/article/december-1992/preachingheidelberg-new-look-tradition-catechetical-preaching (accessed February 6, 2013).
21

20

De Jong, “Comments on Catechetical Preaching.” Walther et al., Law and Gospel: How to Read and Apply the Bible, 29. Forde, Theology Is for Proclamation, 14.

22

23

49 Lutheran tradition does not abandon the proclamation of the gospel. In Part Four of Luther’s Small Catechism, he highlights that we ought to remember our baptism daily.24 The call for the daily remembrance of baptism should be a reminder to the preacher that the need for catechesis is a life-long process. Martin Luther also introduces his Large Catechism with a reminder to pastors that the study of God’s Word should never be looked at as a childish affair. With the emphasis on the study of God’s Word and the role of catechesis in shaping that study, it is helpful to look back and see how catechetical preaching helped shape the Reformation. The historical studies of Lutheran catechetical preaching demonstrate how Luther and other reformers maintained the proclamation of the gospel as the primary purpose of preaching while at the same time engaging in the process of catechesis in their preaching. Martin Luther in his preaching demonstrated that proclamation of the gospel is not abandoned when catechesis occurs in preaching. When it comes to a historical study of catechetical preaching during the Lutheran Reformation, Mary Jane Haemig has brought an essential contribution to this study. Her thesis, The Living Voice of the Catechism, establishes that Martin Luther’s preaching of the chief parts of the Christian faith not only provided the framework for the explanations found in the Small Catechism, but these published sermons also provided a way for people throughout Germany to understand the gospel. She gives credit to the work of the catechetical sermon to transmit the Reformation. She demonstrates that the catechetical sermon postils were “the vehicles which sought to transmit the reformation to more

“It signifies that the old creature in us with all sins and evil desires is to be drowned and die through daily contrition and repentance, and on the other hand that daily a new person is to come forth and rise up to live before God in righteousness and purity forever ” SC, Baptism 12, in BC, 360.

24

50 people than any other means.”25 When Martin Luther wrote his catechisms, his explanations were shaped by thirteen years of preaching and teaching. The proclamation of God’s Word in his sermons on the Ten Commandments, Creed, Lord’s Prayer and the sacraments defined the pastoral care that is evidenced in his catechisms. Ninna Jørgensen in a study of two of Martin Luther’s sermons points out that Luther “brought his ambitions of establishing a catechetical training forward while preaching the Gospel.”26 The advancement of the proclamation of the gospel through the 16th century was significantly shaped by published catechetical sermons. In 1517, Luther preached a series of sermons on the Lord’s Prayer, and then to reach a larger audience he sent a sermon series on The Ten Commandments to the printers.27 Gerhard Bode also highlights the role of published catechetical sermons, which were widely distributed. These collections of sermons on the catechism reveal the preachers’ serious intentions in their catechesis. They firmly believed that the central message of the catechism, the gospel conveying Christ’s benefits, is the active Word of God that works in the hearer, forming and sustaining faith, and teaching how to live out this faith in the world.28 These published sermons succeeded in advancing the Reformation principle of justification by faith because they did not just teach the Christian faith, but they also revealed that the proclamation of the gospel is central to God’s revelation of himself in the Scripture.

Haemig, “The Living Voice of the Catechism: German Lutheran Catechetical Preaching 15301580,” 3-4. Ninna Jørgensen, “"Sed Manet Articulus": Preaching and Catechetical Training in Selected Sermons by the Later Luther,” Studia Theologica 59, no. 1 (2005): 39. Arthur H. Drevlow, “The History, Significance, and Application of Luther's Catechisms,” Concordia Journal 5 (1979): 173.
28 27 26

25

Bode, “Instruction of the Christian Faith by Lutherans after Luther,” 178.

51 Mary Jane Haemig’s study of catechetical sermons during the Reformation demonstrates that those church leaders took seriously their responsibility to preach and teach the doctrine of the church. Gerald Strauss and Robert Christman have studied the response of the people in the pew during the Reformation. While the authorities in the church understood that the content of belief was crucial, Christman notes that this focus of church leaders was not so easily identifiable in the popular piety of the Late Reformation period. [The] common folk demonstrated little interest in dogmatic theology and, indeed, abstract beliefs. In fact, a few scholars have posited the existence of a folk religion, essentially different though not necessarily mutually exclusive from that of the clerical vision….Others have found significant doctrinal comprehension among the lower nobility and rural notables.29 Robert Kolb noted that Strauss’s study about how well Luther’s catechisms had influenced German Lutherans concluded that Lutheran catechetical training was ineffective because pastors continued to have to preach about the same kinds of sin and vice, which had troubled pastors in the past. Kolb commented that studies citing evidence that Lutheran preachers continued to talk about sin fail to recognize that “Lutheran preachers in particular—feel duty bound to condemn sin.”30 The tension between the vision of the preacher and the popular piety of the people in the pew has existed for a long time. When looking to see how catechetical preaching can be a particular kind of preaching and still remain an act of proclamation, I find encouragement in how James

29

Christman, “The Pulpit and the Pew,” 294-95. Kolb, Teaching God's Children His Teaching: A Guide for the Study of Luther's Catechism , 25.

30

52 Nestingen demonstrates that gospel-oriented proclamation is built into the very structure of Luther’s catechism. All of this may require an impertinent question, however: Does the catechism have a smile? In order for us to see it, the catechism has to get more than the piecemeal analysis it usually receives when the parts are taken individually, apart from their connection. It is when it comes together that the catechism does what it does best—setting out, in its simple yet profound way, the depths of law and gospel in life shaped by the cross. The catechism’s smile occurs in its witness, when it gets a chance to preach.31 Nestingen not only talks about the paradigm of the catechism, but he also points out that in Luther’s time there was a defined opportunity for catechetical preaching. The challenge for the modern preacher is finding the appropriate situation in which catechetical preaching can take place. Nestingen suggests that the midweek services common during the Lenten period provide an opportunity for preaching the catechism. Another opportunity is to interrupt the lectionary for a sermon series. He also points out that there are certain lectionary texts that naturally provide an opportunity for catechetical preaching, especially regarding the sacraments.32 Beth Kreitzer, in a chapter of a book that describes preachers and people in the reformations and early modern period, points out that Lutherans did not invent the sermon, but the sermon did gain a new status in religious life and liturgy. The sermon’s increased importance was because it shared new ideas and reforms with the people:

31

Nestingen, “Preaching the Catechism,” 33-34.

Ibid., 42. It is becoming more common for preachers to publish on the web or in journals examples of sermons that focus on the catechism. For example, Sarah Wilson, editor of Lutheran Forum, provided in 2007 on the Lutheran Forum website a 12 week sermon series on the chief parts of the Christian Faith. Sarah Wilson, “Small Catechism Preaching Series," American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, http://www.lutheranforum.org/extras/small-catechism-preaching-series/ (accessed January 31, 2013). John Vieths provided a sermon series and background on the website of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Vieths, “Preaching the Catechism - Wels”.

32

53 The reason for this is twofold: in the largely oral culture of early modern Europe, the spoken word was the vehicle through which the majority of the population received information. The sermon was dominant in print culture, so much so that Luther's sermons appeared in mass quantities in the first decade of the reform movement. Thus Luther and his followers seized upon a pre-existing form, the sermon, transforming it into a teaching tool of great significance.33 Our culture is different than the early modern period, but in our post-literate society oral communication is returning as a powerful way to share new ideas and transform people. The Reformation principle that faith comes from hearing remains a strong theological reason to preach catechetical sermons. Haemig lifts up this theological principle when she states, “the sermon does not merely transmit information but rather is the instrument by which the Holy Spirit is active, working faith in the hearers.”34 She studied the catechetical sermons of the Reformation because she identified that the catechism was not exclusively or even primarily found in the academic environment of the youth school system. Faith formation occurring through preaching the catechism in our modern times demonstrates to the hearers that faith formation is a life-long process that involves all generations. The need to continue to prepare people to receive the Lord’s Supper in a worthy manner and to be equipped to share the good news of Jesus remains. Arthur Repp in his book describing the history of confirmation in the Lutheran church comments that the catechetical sermon developed in Lutheran churches to ensure that the people were prepared to be faithful participants in the Lord’s Supper and in the life of the church.35
Beth Kreitzer, “The Lutheran Sermon,” in Preachers and People in the Reformations and Early Modern Period, ed. Larissa Taylor (Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, 2003), 35.
34 33

Haemig, “The Living Voice of the Catechism: German Lutheran Catechetical Preaching 1530 -

1580,” 6. Arthur Christian Repp, Confirmation in the Lutheran Church (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1964), 22.
35

54 Catechetical preaching was not just about learning material but more so about becoming equipped to live in the promises of baptism. Repp demonstrates that concern was not just for young people but to ensure that the faithful were equipped with God’s Word throughout their lives. The catechetical approach was simple and often without liturgical form. Pastors were expected to preach a short series of catechetical sermons several times a year, often four times, perhaps daily or several times a week. These sermons were intended for the entire congregation and were part of the general educational program for the parish.36 Through utilization of catechetical preaching, the parish pastor demonstrates to the congregation that confirmation is not a closing ceremony. Catechesis is a lifetime activity that equips the faithful to read God’s Word and to understand themselves. John T. Pless, has written that the catechism “provides Lutherans with a particular orientation toward life, a worldview, if you will.”37 The literature helps us to understand the historical character of catechetical preaching and catechesis to equip people to understand their relationship with God and the world. The literature also demonstrates that in the twenty-first century there continues to be a need to provide people a way to understand themselves in relationship to God and the world. Theological discourse is challenged in the twenty-first because, “postmodern congregations care little about doctrine as it has been traditionally understood.”38 While some literature studies the tradition of catechetical preaching, there is also literature that
36

Ibid., 23.

John T. Pless, “The Hammer of God as Catechesis,” in A Hammer of God: Bo Giertz; Lectures from the Centennial Symposia, and Selected Essays by the Bishop , ed. Eric R. Andræ (Fort Wayne, IN: Lutheran Legacy, 2010), 184.
38

37

Hughes and Kysar, Preaching Doctrine: For the Twenty-First Century, 14.

55 seeks for this theological proclamation to happen in the twenty-first century but does not seek preaching that repristinates the tradition. Robert Hughes and Robert Kysar consider doctrinal preaching necessary for faith formation in our postmodern times but also ask that preachers recognize “the task of preaching doctrine for congregations of new people is to speak of translation of the tradition. Translators must carefully weigh the options they have in one language for rendering what they know in another language.”39 James Nestingen is also concerned that the catechism is not preached in an effort to restore a different historical period, “the catechism cannot become a vehicle for the recovery of a lost golden age of Lutheranism. The past wasn’t so golden; now it’s gone. Neither can the catechism be called back on terms of enforcement.”40 Today, the catechism should not be preached to restore a time period. Preaching the catechism is important because it allows us to understand our identity in God and in this world. The book Souls in Transition shows that the lives of young adults are shaped by the struggle for identity. This book reports the results of a longitudinal study of the transition of people from adolescence to adulthood. Through the study, the authors find a need for churches to provide a foundation of identity in the Christian faith during this time of transition. A vacuous and meaningless life hopefully can be avoided by providing a bridge into adulthood that is built on the foundations of the Christian faith. The spiritual but not religious group is not served well when catechesis is absent from Christian

39

Ibid. Nestingen, “Preaching the Catechism,” 33.

40

56 proclamation. Souls in Transition demonstrates a growing need to support young people in the transition to adulthood by providing solid foundations for faith.41 There is confusion in the literature concerning the different uses of the terms faith formation and spiritual formation. It has been said that “Lutherans are among those who define their way of life through the public confession of their faith in Jesus Christ.”42 In 1530 when Emperor Charles V wanted an explanation for the religious practices that were occurring in Germany, the Lutherans responded with a public confession of faith, the Augsburg Confession. The reformers explained their religious practices by giving a confession of faith. This understanding of faith formation is anchored in the conversation a community has about what it believes. In contrast to this understanding of faith formation others use the term spiritual formation. M. Robert Mulholland Jr., a professor at Asbury Theological Seminary, has defined spiritual formation as, “the process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others.”43 Mulholland is concerned with a spiritual discipline that “calls us into a relationship with God that thrusts us out into the world as agents of healing, liberating grace.”44 The book The Lost Soul of American Protestantism studies how the piety of confessional Lutheranism can be contrasted with efforts at piety in other church bodies in America that are “supporting the convert’s

In the concluding chapters of Souls in Transition there is a recommendation to provide continuity of religious convictions during the time of transition into adulthood. Smith and Snell, Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults, 282-83. Arand, Nestingen, and Kolb, The Lutheran Confessions: History and Theology of the Book of Concord, 1. M. Robert Mulholland, Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1993), 12.
44 43 42

41

Ibid., 161.

57 solitary quest to learn an earnest moral life.”45 Luther makes the point that Christians do not become Christians by practicing at it like how one becomes a lutenist by often playing the lute, “for Christians do not become righteous by doing righteous works; but once they have been justified by faith in Christ, they do righteous works.”46 Is there a way to reconcile Luther’s understanding of faith formation with the concept of spiritual formation without running into the challenge of works-righteousness? Richard Osmer wrote about the role that the catechism can have in children’s sermons to help this preaching form serve as more than entertainment for adults and moral lessons for the children. He makes the argument that children’s sermons could be put to good use by teaching the catechism in the context of public worship. He also shows that this use would heighten awareness of the catechism as a resource for the whole congregation.47 Stanley Grenz, commenting on postmodernism, has pointed out the need for teaching to happen in more than just a teacher-student system of memorization. The postmodern outlook likewise demands a ‘post-pedagogical classroom.’ No longer is teaching merely the transmission of a discipline or knowledge that lies prior to the educational experience; rather, it should encompass the active production of (as well as the deconstruction of) meaning.48

D. G. Hart, The Lost Soul of American Protestantism, American Intellectual Culture (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2002), 47.
46

45

Lectures on Galatians (1535), LW 26:256.

Osmer, “Teaching the Catechism in the Children's Sermon: A New Possibility for Biblical and Theological Literacy,” 37-38.
48

47

Grenz, A Primer on Postmodernism, 44.

58 The need for people to be participants in the production of meaning in their lives encourages catechetical preaching to become a form of preaching that is a purposeful conversation between the Bible and the people. Catechesis is important in our generation, because people are not being directed to build connections that exist beyond their own feelings. Alan Millar is the director of The NY Salon, which hosts debates with the hope of engaging the public in critical debate. Millar notes that the growing group of people who identify themselves as spiritual but not religious attempt to build their lives on feelings. Those in the spiritual-but-not-religious camp are peddling the notion that by being independent - by choosing an “individual relationship” to some concept of “higher power,” energy, oneness or something-or-other - they are in a deeper, more profound relationship than one that is coerced via a large institution like a church. That attitude fits with the message we are receiving more and more that “feeling” something somehow is more pure and perhaps, more “true” than having to fit in with the doctrine, practices, rules and observations of a formal institution that are handed down to us.49 People today have little training in how to read themselves, the world and most importantly Scripture. Catechesis equips people to read the world from a perspective that hinges on the revealed God of the gospel.50 Jonathan Fisk, a pastor in the LCMS, comments about the need for the church to share her doctrine when he writes, “The great jeopardy all American churches,

Alan Millar, “My Take: 'I'm Spiritual Not Religious' Is a Cop Out," cnn.com, http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/29/my-take-im-spiritual-not-religious-is-a-cop-out (accessed October 1, 2012). Robert Kolb writes about the importance of catechesis to assist people read Scripture and the world that is around them. “Why have so many people found this little book so important? It is because Luther’s Small Catechism is more than a book. It is a way of life. Or, more specifically, it cultivates a world view, out of which we live as believers in Jesus Christ. It creates a mindset which is grounded in the Scriptures and grows out of them.” Kolb, Teaching God's Children His Teaching: A Guide for the Study of Luther's Catechism, 15.
50

49

59 denominations, and Christians face in our present evil age is that by taking our eyes off of these words, we cannot help but put our hope in other words—other rules for other faiths.”51 This growing awareness of the need for the church to anchor her gospel proclamation in specifics and not in evangelical pietism has also been noted by Carl Braaten when he wrote about the challenge of neopaganism, A gospel-centered counteroffensive will not work without the kind of full-orbed Christology I have proposed. Such a Christology is not an abstract piece of speculative dogmatics. The historical, kerygmatic, and dogmatic components of the gospel equip the church to stake its entire life on Christ, leaving no place for any other love or loyalty. This and nothing else will immunize the church against anthropocentric theologies of experience. Only such a christologically anchored gospel will keep the church from becoming a multiplicity of religious sects drifting away from the original source from which the energies of faith flow.52 In conclusion, the literature demonstrates that catechetical preaching is a purposeful form of preaching. The literature also demonstrates that preaching the chief parts of the Christian faith was used in the early years of Lutheranism to build identity in the gospel of Jesus Christ. There continues to be a need for people to find that bridge from living outside of the body of Christ towards living in Christ in this world. In the next chapter, the project description will address how catechetical preaching can be demonstrated as an important element of faith formation in Lutheran congregations.

Jonathan M. Fisk, Broken: 7 Christian Rules That Every Christian Ought to Break as Often as Possible (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2012), 270. Carl E. Braaten, “The Gospel for a Neopagan Culture,” in Either/Or: The Gospel or Neopaganism, ed. Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jenson (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995), 20.
52

51

CHAPTER 4 PROJECT DESCRIPTION The best practices for catechetical preaching will be identified through research that uses the Success Case Method.1 The goal for this project is to seek out pastors who have made purposeful catechetical preaching an integrated element of faith formation in their congregations and then find out what is working and what is not working. The incentive for identifying what works and what does not work in current catechetical preaching is so that future pastors are equipped to preach catechetical sermons. When preachers are equipped to preach catechetical sermons their listeners will be equipped to understand their identity with God and in the world. Qualitative Research Method Qualitative research was determined to be an effective method of research for this project, because this project seeks answers to emerging questions and procedures in the context of preachers utilizing catechetical preaching. Joseph Maxwell describes the purpose of qualitative research, In a qualitative study, you are interested not only in the physical events and behaviors that are taking place, but also in how the participants in your study make sense of these, and how their understanding influences their behavior. This

1

Brinkerhoff, The Success Case Method: Find out Quickly What's Working and What's Not.

60

61 focus on meaning is central to what is known as the “interpretative” approach to social science.2 Quantitative research was not used because this project did not seek to determine an increase in doctrinal knowledge. One of the concerns being addressed by this project is the development of catechesis in a congregation that moves towards defining and demonstrating faith formation as an act of the intellect. The action-reflection model of quantitative research could have involved preaching a series of catechetical sermons and then surveying the increase or decrease of faith formation in the congregation. This model was not chosen because it would be difficult to discern the subjective nature of faith development through instrument-based questions. If the people in a congregation were surveyed for their doctrinal knowledge before and after a series of catechetical sermons that would encourage the thesis that catechetical preaching is effective when people know more information. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God and faith formation occurs in the context of the Word being proclaimed.3 The effectiveness of the action-reflection model for this project is also limited by the fact that faith formation is a life-long process. Narrative inquiry of pastors was chosen because it allows these pastors to reflect on the long-term experience of catechetical preaching in their contexts. The research method employed in this project is limited in focus to the preachers of catechetical sermons. A different project could seek to understand the self-descriptions of faith formation by congregation members and attempt to bring those terms into relationship with what the preacher expected to occur in the sermon. A social construct
Joseph Alex Maxwell, Qualitative Research Design: An Interactive Approach , 2nd ed., Applied Social Research Methods Series 41 (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2005), 22. In Romans 10, St. Paul emphasizes “faith comes from what is heard.” Martin Luther in his explanation to The Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed emphasizes that I cannot believe by my own reason or strength but that the Holy Spirit creates saving faith in us through the hearing of the gospel.
3 2

62 that develops the relationship between the preacher and the experience of the listeners would be a valuable endeavor. However, that is beyond the scope of this project. The philosophical assumption of this project is that people seek understanding of the world in which they work and live. They want this understanding of the world to integrate into their relationship with God. This understanding is formed in the listeners through many complex variables. I have previously mentioned how Robert Kolb has written about the role of catechetical preaching to bridge across complex variables, “I think that catechetical preaching becomes ever more important in a world in which many of our hearers have had little, if any, fundamental training in how to read Scripture (which is what ‘doctrine’ really is—well, how to read the Bible, how to read the world, how to read ourselves).”4 The proclaimed Word of God has authoritative claims to truth. This truth is an objective truth, but how this truth is described and experienced in the relationship between the preacher and the listener is defined and limited by social conditions. The preacher who engages in catechetical preaching shares God’s Word, “which reveals who God is and what he has done for us.”5 The truth of God’s Word is received in a congregation in many different ways, but this research project is focused specifically in how this truth is proclaimed by preachers in catechetical sermons. Success Case Method This thesis project seeks to understand how catechetical preaching is being implemented. Robert Brinkerhoff’s Success Case Method (SCM) was chosen because of
4

Robert Kolb, e-mail message to author, June 22, 2012. Kolb, Teaching God's Children His Teaching: A Guide for the Study of Luther's Catechism , 16.

5

63 the ability of this research method to identify what is working and what is not through qualitative research. According to Rebecca Ray, a writer with CorpU, Dr. Robert O. Brinkerhoff, professor emeritus at Western Michigan University and a senior consultant for the Advantage Performance Group, is an internationally recognized expert in training evaluation and effectiveness and has been a consultant to dozens of major companies and organizations in the United States, South Africa, and Europe. Brinkerhoff is the inventor of the Success Case Evaluation Method, an innovative technique for evaluating learning programs that relies on qualitative feedback to help understand an organization’s training effectiveness.6 The SCM seeks out stories to develop an understanding of credible and valid methods of success. The interviews of success cases are designed to address four key questions that help others understand the effectiveness of any new effort. The four questions are: What is really happening? What results are being achieved? What is the value of the results? and How can it be improved? Brinkerhoff believes that SCM is most helpful for “assessing ‘soft skill,’ social, and other subtle outcomes and impacts that are usually thought of as hard to measure.”7 I have identified a model for what success in catechetical preaching should look like. This impact model portrays what behaviors and results should be present in a congregation if catechetical preaching has been successfully integrated into the faith formation of the congregation. The expectation is that when successful catechetical preaching is present the people are bridged into understanding who God is and what he has done for us.

Rebecca Ray, “An Interview with a Legend: Dr. Robert Brinkerhoff," CorpU, http://blogs.corpu.com/2010/07/30/an-interview-with-a-legend-dr-robert-brinkerhoff/ (accessed January 29, 2013).
7

6

Brinkerhoff, The Success Case Method: Find out Quickly What's Working and What's Not , xi.

64 I utilized word of mouth and reputations to develop a subject set of pastors who have been identified as successfully preaching doctrine in a way that proclaims the good news. When designing and implementing a method to search for best case scenarios involved both interviewing district presidents and seminary professors. I also sought the counsel of other pastors. I asked them which pastors have demonstrated an ability to preach the doctrines of the church in support of faith formation through catechetical preaching. Essentially I put my ear to the railroad track and listened for the trains arriving at the station. Once success cases were identified, I interviewed those pastors. I interviewed the preachers in person when possible; otherwise, I interviewed them on the phone or by video conference. The interviews were structured first to confirm that catechetical preaching did take place. Once the existence of catechetical preaching was confirmed, I asked questions to develop the story of success in that congregation. By seeking success stories from preachers, there is a danger that this method would result in stories that serve only as anecdotal evidence. The sample size of this type of research is small but still valuable. Maxwell states that qualitative researchers have an advantage with this small data set: Qualitative researchers typically study a relatively small number of individuals or situations, and preserve the individuality of each of these in their analyses, rather than collecting data from large samples and aggregating the data across individuals or situations. Thus, they are able to understand how events, actions, and meanings are shaped by the unique circumstances in which these occur.8

8

Maxwell, Qualitative Research Design: An Interactive Approach , 22.

65 In a review of SCM, the Harvard Family Research Project stated, “Picking out the best (and sometimes) worst accounts, verifying and then documenting them is the core of the success case method. This confirmation step is what distinguishes this approach from a simple cataloguing of positive accounts or anecdotes.”9 The strength of the success case method is the ability of this method to assess communication and other interpersonal capabilities that are generally difficult to measure. The research questions for this thesis involve understanding what is working and what is not working in catechetical preaching. Questions in the interviews with preachers were broad and general so that the individual preachers studied could tell their stories. The veracity of a story as a success required, “it must tell how a person actually used something, and the actual results they got.”10 Research Questions Storytelling is at the heart of this research method. The interviews were both open-ended and highly structured. The pastors were encouraged to tell stories that place their efforts within the context of their ministry. Robert Brinkerhoff points out that having questions that are open ended provides the opportunity for new information to be discovered and also to “capture and document the very particular and personal ways in which the innovation or intervention has been used to achieve successful results.”11 The interviews also have a focused structure to search for and identify those factors that provided for their success. The conversational interviews I conducted explored how these
Tezeta Tulloch, “Review of Robert O. Brinkerhoff's "Success Case Method",” The Evaluation Exchange 9, no. 4 (2003/2004), http://www.hfrp.org/var/hfrp/storage/original/application/f1be9c61c5a4011b6637bb5d1a3190ed.pdf (accessed October 23, 2012).
10 9

Brinkerhoff, The Success Case Method: Find out Quickly What's Working and What's Not , 4. Ibid., 38.

11

66 pastors successfully engage in doctrinal preaching that both faithfully trusts in the work of the Holy Spirit to call, gather, and enlighten the church and builds the congregation up in the confession of faith. Brinkerhoff states, “Across human history, stories are what we have used to understand and make sense of the world around us.”12 The interview questions, therefore, are designed to encourage the pastors to tell the stories of their success. The questions also are designed to “probe and flesh out the story of success. This not only explains and illustrates the success but also seeks to identify the factors that made success possible.”13 Self-report bias is possible in this study because the research relies on the preachers to relate through stories their experience of utilizing catechetical preaching. Examples of sermons, included in the appendix, provide some demonstration of the validity of their stories. I allow their stories to develop the measure of success in their own contexts. After getting sufficient biographical and contextual information to place the stories of an interview into a particular setting, I tried to keep the interviews conversational. The questions I asked metaphorically filled up five buckets. The sheets used for note-taking during the interviews are found in the appendix B. On each sheet is an illustration of a bucket. The buckets of questions assisted me in keeping the conversations unstructured so that the subjects felt free to tell stories. I used the bucket on my note taking sheets so that I could imagine the pastor being interviewed filling up the buckets as we talked. The metaphor of filling up the buckets provided me common structure across the eight interviews so I could conduct at a later time a comparative

12

Ibid., 4. Ibid., 39.

13

67 analysis of the interviews. Bucket number one focuses on the questions, “What did they use that worked? What, when, how, and where?” Bucket number two focuses on the questions, “What did the catechetical preaching help them achieve? How do they know it made a difference?” Bucket number three focuses on the questions, “What good did it do? Why are these results important?” Bucket number four focuses on the questions, “What in their context did they use or access that helped them? What tools, references, sources, or aids did they use?” Bucket number five focuses on the questions, “What suggestions do they have that would have helped the overall success?” Following the interviews, I sought to develop recommendations for the best practices for pastors and congregations to use when seeking to integrate catechetical preaching into the faith formation program of the congregation. I expected the comparative analysis of the different interviews to reveal preaching characteristics that would overlap. I also expected that the analysis would reveal that catechetical preaching helped these preachers and congregations develop their relationship with God and the world.

CHAPTER 5 ANALYSIS As I outlined in the previous chapter, the research for this project was based on qualitative interviews that were designed to answer the question, “Can catechetical preaching successfully become an element of the faith formation program in a congregation?” Preachers were selected for these interviews because they had been identified by seminary professors, peers, or publications as purposefully preaching catechetical sermons. The success case model for catechetical preaching was identified to include the following components. The preacher utilized the catechism in the sermon, possibly as a main text or as a key illustration. The preacher focused the sermon towards the work of Jesus so that the character of preaching remained the proclamation of law and gospel. The preacher equipped the people to live in the assembled body of Christ, the church and also helped the listener see the bridge between doctrine and living in the world. The whole congregation was considered as listeners of the sermon, therefore strengthening the notion that catechetical preaching is a multigenerational event. This success case model was not shared with the people being interviewed. The people I interviewed were allowed to self-identify catechetical preaching and share their

68

69 own reflections on what made this kind of preaching successful. Through the interviews, the success case model was tested through the experience of these preachers.1 Context The interviews conducted included different contexts. Those contexts included urban and rural, immigrant and suburban, institutional and congregational, and new members and long-time members. There were also different times when catechetical sermons were preached, including Lent midweek services, Sunday sermon series, Sunday school opening, and Sunday afternoon worship services. One of the preachers is a pastor in an urban congregation with a mixture of both an African immigrant population and a number of older Scandinavian long-time members. She stated that she began a series of catechetical sermons to help the congregation developed a shared language of faith that would help provide the building blocks for community within the congregation. She talked to the Africans about beginning a youth confirmation class. She realized that many of the African adults were also interested but because of work and family schedules, were unable to attend a class. She scheduled the catechism sermons to be held on the first Sunday of each month so that people could plan their work schedules. In her congregation, there was the existing tradition of a time after the sermon for sharing community events. People in the pews would stand up. They would then either introduce a guest or describe something going on in their lives. She took advantage of this community sharing time to extend the sermon into a conversation with the

Appendix A is the signed consent form that was used to secure the confidence of the people being interviewed. These pastors understood that their responses would be anonymous.

1

70 congregation. She provided starter questions in the bulletin that would get the community sharing time focused on the themes of the sermon.2 This time for group discussion after the sermon allowed the congregation to integrate what they had previously heard with what they would experience. This discussion time allowed the people to question her about the sermon but during this time they also would teach one another. Not all the questions and comments were directed towards the pastor. The people began encouraging each other with how the sermon connected with other sermons that had been preached in the series. This discussion time during the worship service helped the long-time members respect the experience of the immigrants finding their identity in the congregation. As they would witness the attempts of the immigrants to integrate their experiences with what they were heard in the sermon, they gained an understanding of what it means to hear the good news of Jesus from a different experience. A pastor in a rural congregation with a parish school provided a different context for catechetical preaching. He scheduled a worship service on Sunday afternoons that was intended primarily for public school children and adult inquirers. He also anticipated that others from the congregation would attend this worship service. The catechism service is held in his congregation throughout the school year. He uses the Service of Prayer and Preaching from Lutheran Service Book.3 His goal in using this catechetical experience is to get away from the classroom experience in which he has felt that he opens their heads, dumps in knowledge, and tests them. He worries that the classroom experience leads to knowledge that puffs up. So he places catechesis into a prayer service
2

See appendix C for examples of her bulletin inserts.

Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod (Commission on Worship), Lutheran Service Book, Pew ed. (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2006), 260-67.

3

71 so that there is more of a chance for the humility of a repentant heart learning to cling to the promises of God. He said, If catechesis is not swaddled in prayer than it becomes “knowledge about” God vs. “knowledge of” God. Which of these is the more spiritually health? We want people to truly know Him, not to merely know facts about Him, and to know His is for Him to proclaim Himself to us in His Word and for us to respond to that self-revelation in prayer. The classroom setting suggests all the wrong things; the sanctuary setting suggests all the right things. God speaks. We listen. We pray. He also used his catechetical sermons in the different contexts of a Synod headquarters weekly chapel service and as the basis for a weeklong training for people preparing for missionary work overseas. A retired pastor was interviewed who preached a series of sermons on the catechism at the midweek evening services during Lent. His congregations over his ministry included a small congregation in rural Illinois that thoroughly knew the catechism, and these series provided a time for the congregation to be encouraged to continue to hold to the faith in which they had been raised. He also served in a small congregation in North Chicago. This congregation was a mission congregation that experienced significant turnover in membership because of the proximity of the Great Lakes Naval Station, a training center for the navy. Many people in this congregation had little Lutheran background and hearing about the catechism was a new territory. The midweek services in Lent provided this congregation an opportunity to find a shared experience of inquiry. The third experience for this pastor was in a large congregation in Minneapolis that regarded itself as intentionally liturgical. Quoting the catechism he said “was home-town territory for these people.” He would introduce an illustration from Luther’s Small Catechism by saying, “Remember these words…” As he quoted the words of the catechism, people would nod their heads. His final experience of preaching

72 through the catechism was in a congregation with a history of personal piety but little experience with the catechism, and in this congregation, he did not find catechetical preaching as well received. He was not sure why the catechetical sermon series model did not work as well in this last congregation. A preacher, who identified himself as serving in “the buckle of the Bible belt,” preached the catechism during the summer. He identified one-third of his congregation as being those who did not have a Lutheran background when they joined the congregation. So each summer, over five years, he covered a different part of the catechism. There was an active adult confirmation program that provided a very fast paced overview of the catechism. He had also conducted Bible studies for adults that worked through the chief parts of the Christian faith in the catechism. He was encouraged to conduct this five-year summer sermon series because the fast pace of the adult confirmation class and the lack of attendance at the adult Bible study caused him to seek out an opportunity for the whole congregation to hear the Word proclaimed through the catechism. He used the summer for the sermon series so that the series would not be interrupted by the festivals of Easter or Christmas. He also identified the Pentecost season of the church calendar as an ideal time to focus on the relationship between the individual, the church, and the world. A pastor in suburban Michigan has a confirmation program that includes on Sunday morning a class for the parents of middle school students and a different class for the young adult confirmation students. Last year, he preached every Sunday morning on the same part of the catechism that was being covered in the confirmation class that

73 week. He felt that the people appreciated this year-long focus on the core beliefs of the congregation.4 A pastor in Wisconsin serves in a congregation with a school. He has been in this congregation for twenty-two years. He has preached the six chief parts of the catechism during Lent and works to regularly interject catechesis into Sunday morning sermons as he finds it appropriate with the appointed lessons. His Wednesday evening catechetical preaching is more interactive. Instead of a ten to twenty minute sermon, these sermons are often forty-five minutes. He will ask questions of people and invite people to discuss the topic in smaller groups. The eighth pastor interviewed serves in a small rural congregation in Nebraska. While his congregation is in a rural community, he commented that the traditional farm life family no longer exists. He regularly finds families unchurched and children not baptized. In this context, the Grandparents often act as spiritual guardians making sure children are brought to Sunday school and the worship service. Seven years ago, he preached a catechetical series for Lent.5 Since then, he has continued catechesis in the congregation through a Sunday school opening worship service. This worship service takes place in the nave of the sanctuary and is intended for the adults and children attending the Sunday school. The liturgy for this opening involves the opening versicles from Matins, a recitation of a part of the catechism, a short catechetical sermon, and a hymn. Following this combined opening the adults and children separate for an age appropriate Sunday school lesson.

4

Examples of his sermons can be found in appendix D. Sermons from his midweek Lent sermon series are found in appendix D.

5

74 These different contexts provided an opportunity for the success case model to be evaluated across many different experiences. The interviews revealed that these preachers were working in different contexts, yet they shared a common desire to equip the listeners to hear the doctrine of the church as a bridge towards understanding themselves in their relationship to God and to the world. Resources The preachers who were interviewed shared a variety of resources as being influential in shaping their catechetical preaching. When asked what was primary for them, they all noted that the Word of God was the basis for their preaching. The confessional documents of the church equipped them with a shared language and viewpoint to understand the Bible but did not replace the Bible as the primary text in preaching. Luther’s Small Catechism was used in the sermon to provide a shared vocabulary or as a reminder of foundations built in youth confirmation programs. A number of the pastors interviewed also highlighted that the worship service included recitations of parts of the Small Catechism. Whether the catechism was recited in the liturgy or not, all of them noted that the use of the catechism was transparent in the sermons. While the Bible was an essential source and norm for the catechetical preaching, all the individuals interviewed used tools to support the exposition of Scripture and the catechism. Some found that the first resources they turned to were the ones used for teaching in their youth confirmation programs. In fact, one of the preachers purposefully integrated the curriculum that was being taught to the youth confirmands on Sunday morning with the sermon that was being preached that same morning. His confirmation

75 curriculum includes materials from the Small Catechism, The Truth Project published by Focus on the Family6 and also materials written by Timothy Keller. Keller is the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. Even though Keller is not Lutheran, that pastor found him to be helpful because he provided a high level of discourse to explain the foundations of the Christian faith without talking down to laity. This pastor also shared that he was encouraged by Keller’s very repetitive nature of teaching the Christian faith. He looked for resources that supported the continuity of the faith, equipped parents to teach the faith at home, and prepared his listeners to think with a Christian worldview. Another pastor found the material from the Concordia Catechetical Academy (CCA) helpful in determining which Scripture passages to preach with different parts of the catechism. The CCA is an auxiliary organization of Peace Lutheran Church, Sussex, Wisconsin. This academy is dedicated to the promotion of the Small Catechism. The materials provided by the CCA use Old and New Testament stories to help teach the different parts of the catechism. This pastor found the connecting of Biblical stories to parts of the catechism more helpful than just the proof texts provided traditionally with the catechism. This academy does not supply sermons, but it did provide this preacher with a foundation to support his catechetical preaching. One individual interviewed made a point of commenting that his catechetical preaching was not a break from how he prepared the content of his sermons. He planned a series of sermons for the summer, and for these five summers the series happened to be
The Truth Project is a DVD-based small group curriculum that is “the starting point for looking at life from a biblical perspective. Each lesson discusses in great detail the relevance and importance of living the Christian worldview in daily life” “What Is Focus on the Family's the Truth Project®?," Focus on the Family, http://www.thetruthproject.org/whatistruthproject/ (accessed January 16, 2013).
6

76 catechetical. He developed Biblical texts to support the themes for each week. He studied the Greek or Hebrew of the particular Scripture texts. He referred to Luther’s Large Catechism for background material. He also developed a Bible study to compliment the sermon series. The pastor interviewed who preaches in an urban congregation with a large African immigrant community found the material from the Here We Stand7 series published by Augsburg Fortress to be helpful in identifying key topics to focus upon in her preaching. Each week she produced a worksheet that was designed to help the congregation listen to the sermon. The worksheet included questions that were used to guide the discussion time she held immediately after the sermon. One of the pastors provides to his congregation a weekly devotional resource called “Congregation at Prayer.” This resource is provided as an insert in the Sunday bulletin.8 He provides a model for families to utilize the catechism in their daily prayers. The pattern for these devotions includes an invitation to make the sign of the cross, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, a psalm, Bible verse, catechism, the Collect of the Day from the previous Sunday, and a Hymn. This devotional guide is introduced at the Sunday morning adult Bible study. It is then encouraged to be used to begin church meetings during the week and at chapel services in the school. The resources he uses to prepare his weekly devotional guide and catechetical sermons are primarily the Bible, the Small Catechism, and the Large Catechism. He said,

There are many materials including print and online resources in this series but this pastor said she especially used the small blue handbook with the winking Martin Luther on the cover. Kristofer Skrade and James Satter, The Lutheran Handbook (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2005).
8

7

An example of the “Congregation at Prayer” can be found in appendix C.

77 “Absolutely, I need to be a student of the Scripture and a student of my catechism so that I know where the people in my congregation are stumbling.” He believed that knowing the Scripture and the catechism equipped him to be a listener of his people. He also found value in Luther’s catechetical sermons, Luther’s A Simple Way to Pray,9 and Reu’s book on catechetics.10 He spoke cautiously about the use of Schwan’s catechism explanations alongside of the catechism. This pastor found in the past people conflated Schwan’s catechism11 explanations with the Small Catechism. He determined that Schwan’s explanations to be dry, boring, and academic, and said, “Luther’s explanations are meditations on the Gospel but so often people get turned away by Schwan’s explanations so that the catechism turns into a textbook.” He also said that a beginning resource for his catechetical focus in the parish was a class that he took from Kenneth Korby called, “Catechesis in the Parish.” This class encouraged him to understand catechesis as not just a fad in the parish but the very central rhythm for Christian education in the congregation. The pastor in rural Nebraska found his preaching with the catechism shaped significantly by professors he had while in the seminary and theologians he has been directed to by others. He quickly provided a catalog of people that had influenced his views on preaching the catechism. Noteworthy for him were Werner Elert, Herman

A Simple Way to Pray is a classic devotional guide that Martin Luther wrote in response to a request by his good friend and barber Peter Beskendorf. This simple tract anchors prayer in meditation upon the chief parts of the Christian faith and the Bible. A Simple Way to Pray (1535), LW 43:189.
10

9

Reu, Catechetics: Or, Theory and Practice of Religious Instruction.

Concordia Publishing House’s most popular edition of the Small Catechism includes a section that was designed to help students understand and apply the Luther’s Small Catechism. For many people in the LCMS the word catechism has likely included this explanation section. CPH describes this section as the product of “the work of Johann Konrad Dietrich, Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther, Heinrich Christian Schwan, and the committee that prepared the synodical catechism of 1943.” “ESV Luther's Small Catechism with Explanation - 1991 Edition," Concordia Publishing House, http://www.cph.org/p-1771esv-luthers-small-catechism-with-explanation-1991-edition.aspx (accessed February 22, 2013).

11

78 Sasse, Martin Chemnitz, John Pless, Charles Arand, Gerhard Forde, Steven Paulson, and Kenneth Korby. This list of influential people was a reminder for this pastor that catechetical preaching is not a new phenomenon. He said also that he will diligently search Luther’s Works before preaching on a part of the catechism. Results Achieved The preachers interviewed did not identify the primary goal of their preaching as an increase in knowledge. The way success was measured by the different preachers varied. The variety of goals resulted from the different contexts in which these sermons were preached. When the congregation included a large number of new converts, the goal was to help the listeners understand that Lutheran means more than just the name on the building. In the congregation with the large population of African immigrants, the pastor found that they had come from Liberia and other parts of West Africa where identity with a church denomination was largely regionally based.12 The catechetical sermon series that was held on the first Sunday of the month helped shape a bond of shared faith in the congregation. Unity based on a shared confession of faith helped bring the congregation’s new and long-term members together. It also helped form a common language of faith among the members of that congregation. She witnessed this growing unity in the congregation by the way that the community time after the sermon became more than just a time for announcements. Questions were asked during discussion time. The pastor was

She commented that the immigrants said that they had gone to whatever church was in their area or was providing relief.

12

79 proud to witness other people in the congregation besides herself answering the exploratory questions asked by the congregation. One of the contexts for a catechetical sermon series was a congregation that had experienced division because of a past conflict between the senior pastor and the associate pastor. The senior pastor retired, and the associate became the new senior pastor. In this suburban congregation with a parish school, this new senior pastor identified a need to identify core values and mission in the congregation. The catechetical preaching sermon series provided an opportunity for the congregation to discover their shared vision and mission. For this pastor the goal for the sermon series was to teach the faith, but he was not teaching the faith for the purpose of increasing the knowledge of the congregation. He was interested in equipping the people to defend and share the faith. Through catechetical preaching, the congregation was learning how theology impacts how they think and act. As a result of the previous conflict in the congregation members were reluctant to share Christ through their words and actions in the community. People were fearful of putting themselves out in the open to be attacked. The pastor identified two camps in the previous conflict. One camp was insistent on doctrine but did not extend that doctrine into action in the congregation or community. There was not a connection between their views of their relationship with God with how they understood the community around them. The other camp wanted to care for people but did so with no doctrinal foundation. The pastor did not want this division to continue. Therefore he indicated that he hoped the goal of his catechetical preaching was not perceived as a desire to build a fortress of truth around the congregation. Instead he used catechetical preaching to bridge the gap

80 between the two camps. Through the year, the pastor saw an increase in the eagerness of people from both sides to engage in ministry in new places. He also heard more people speaking positively about their own faith and practice. Now when he hears people speaking about their faith, it is less generic because there is a shared language. For instance, he now hears people talking positively about remembering their baptism and joyfully anticipating the Lord’s Supper. This pastor shared the following example of how the sermons about baptism changed the way people shared their faith in their families An example of someone coming to a deeper spiritual truth took place during our lesson on baptism. We taught people to say, “I am baptized,” instead of just saying, “I was baptized.” The goal was for people to understand that they live each day in light of a promise. It is a present reality. A member of the church shared that it changed the way they have prayer time with their children. They had thought of baptism as a ceremony they experienced when they were children. But now, the parents lead the kids in a time of “remembering their baptism” each night—a time for them to reflect on the ways they lived boldly as God’s children, as well as the ways where they fell short. In remembrance of their baptism the parent announced forgiveness over them before putting them into bed. A different pastor said a member of his congregation came up to him and said, “I remember memorizing these words but I didn’t know what they meant but now I know these words help my faith look to Jesus.” The pastor that held Sunday afternoon worship services of prayer and preaching said he found evidence of positive results. The catechetical preaching was to a multigenerational group of listeners that included adult and public school catechumens. In this setting he believed that the catechumens were experiencing faith as a trust that was lived in prayer and action and not just as a body of knowledge that is dumped into their heads. As he preached about the Apostles’ Creed and how we can use the creed to guide our confession of faith to our neighbors, he found that the people in the congregation were

81 better equipped to share their faith. He also preached about confession and absolution, speaking of how no man is as alone as the man alone with his sin. He found an increase in the number of people seeking private confession and absolution. At both of the congregations he served, when he arrived he found little interest in the congregation for every Sunday celebration of the Lord’s Supper. He partly attributed the ability to introduce offering Holy Communion every Sunday to catechetical preaching. People were regularly hearing about the promises of God and so sought out the refreshment of the forgiveness of sins through the Lord’s Supper. The pastor in Wisconsin with a school that distributed an insert every week in the bulletin did not want his catechetical preaching to be perceived simply as a program. He was concerned that if catechesis is perceived as a program option in a congregation then the impression will be given to the people that catechesis is just one way disciples of Christ are shaped. He said, “It is not about a method, but about a faithful exposition of Scripture that nurtures the baptized life.” His goal for catechetical preaching is to have the Scripture shape the way people think and give them a shared language of faith so that they are enabled to bear the suffering and struggles of living together. He witnesses the results of his efforts in the establishment of a congregation that annually prays through the catechism. He has confidence that the people in the congregation know the catechism and that it has helped the people encounter the Word of God. People in this congregation do not view the catechism as a man-made book that should be just studied. He said, “The catechism becomes the natural expression of what has been taught and preached.” In all the interviews, the results of catechetical preaching involved sharing a common language of faith. The purpose of this bridge into the language of faith was

82 rooted in the confidence that theological truths are life-shaping. There was not an effort by these pastors just to be theoretical about doctrine. The Word of God was proclaimed to impact lives and shape community. There was a focus on delivering the good news of Jesus and so to draw people back to Christ. One pastor commented about how activities in the congregation went on as before, but he now has confidence that he has a congregation that treasures a Christ-centered ministry. Catechetical preaching in these congregations provided the listeners the opportunity for review for some and an introduction to others of a common language for faith. The pastor in rural Nebraska noted that a member of the congregation came up to him and said, “I always took forgiveness of sins for granted but now I know I can’t live without it.” The success of catechetical preaching for these pastors was consistently measured by the unity it brought to each congregation. None of the preachers identified the unity as becoming simply more Lutheran. They rejoiced in their unity built on the work of God revealed in Christ Jesus. Negative Outcomes In the interviews, the preachers were asked what negative outcomes were experienced as a result of their catechetical preaching. The challenge of catechetical preaching that maintains the focus on the proclamation of the gospel rather than just talking about Jesus was a challenge for more than one preacher. Pacing was a concern. Either they felt like they were going too fast or going too slowly. For example, a preacher reflected on how the pacing of his series may have made it difficult for him to maintain a balance of Law and Gospel in his preaching. He realized this pacing challenge when preaching for ten weeks on the Ten Commandments. He was concerned that the sermons could be experienced as ten weeks of moral life

83 encouragement with the good news of Jesus appearing as an add-on to the sermon. While that pastor was concerned about spending an extended amount of time on the Ten Commandments, another pastor spoke of how his time constraints prevented him from asking the congregation to memorize the parts of the catechism that they were focusing upon. He knew repetition and memorization are important, but he did not feel he had the time to include these pieces to his catechism series. Another preacher saw the possibility that the catechism would be used as an authority and therefore used in a ham-fisted way to push through change. He found in his experience that the catechism did not work to support an argument. He thought that an idea needed to stand on its own and not rely on the catechism. He found the catechism worked best when it helped the congregation speak clearly about faith. No significant negative outcomes were experienced by the pastors that purposefully included catechetical preaching as an element of faith formation in their congregations. One pastor did comment that he had been challenged by members of his congregation to adopt practices similar to the larger congregations around him. Another pastor did say in his interview, “Initially people were worried that I was focusing too much on memorization. This concern decreased when these elders heard the children sharing their faith in the words of the catechism.”

CHAPTER 6 EVALUATION An evaluation of catechetical preaching as a purposeful element of faith formation in a congregation will be accomplished by comparing the results of the narrative interviews with the success case model identified in chapter five. The success case model developed for this project described successful catechetical preaching thusly:  The preacher utilized the catechism in the sermon, possibly as a main text or as a key illustration.  The whole congregation was considered as listeners of the sermon and so the preaching was identified as multi-generational.  The preacher brought focus in the sermon towards the work of Jesus, so that the character of the preaching remained the proclamation of law and gospel.  The preacher equipped the people to live in the assembled body of Christ, the church, and also helped the listener see the bridge between doctrine and living in the world. For all the pastors interviewed they understood that catechetical preaching involved utilization of the catechism in the sermon. It was noteworthy that all the people interviewed highlighted that the Bible remained the source and norm for their preaching.

84

85 Even when the objective was to cover a part of the catechism in a topical sermon, the Bible remained the foundation for the sermon. Catechetical preaching did not cause these pastors to set aside the Bible. The opinion of these preachers was that the topical sermons that focused on a part the catechism still remained solidly Biblical. They used the catechism in their sermons to help the listeners have an encounter with the Bible. In chapter four, I mentioned that Robert Kolb understands the importance of catechetical preaching for listeners today because they have so little training in how to read Scripture, the world, and themselves. The preachers I interviewed demonstrated an understanding that the catechism is not a catalog of church dogma. Through the use of the catechism in their preaching, they were seeking to help the listeners understand the Bible as a foundation for faith. Catechetical preaching nurtures the baptized life when it brings the listener into the Bible to witness the chief parts of the Christian faith. I asked one of the pastors what would his congregation be like if he did not bring catechesis into the pulpit. He responded, “The congregation would be missing if catechesis is just a classroom experience. We would be an association of knowledgeable people.” People may be concerned that catechetical preaching treats the catechism as if it were equal to the Bible. If the catechism is used as authoritative on its own without Scripture, it does not help the listener develop a framework of thought and confession that is built on God’s Word. The catechetical preaching helps the catechism become a natural expression of what has been taught and preached. A pastor told me, “The members of my congregation would find the catechism forced in my preaching if it does not engage the heart through an encounter with the Word of God.” These preachers demonstrated that they used the catechism to proclaim the Word of God. The use of the

86 catechism as an aid to proclaiming the Word of God and not in place of the Bible is necessary for the success of catechetical preaching. The preachers could keep the listeners focused on understanding their relationship to God and not just on their relationship to the material of the confessional documents of the Lutheran church. The pastors that found narratives in the Bible to go along with their preaching of the catechism experienced more positive results than those using the Bible and catechism as proof texts for cementing a position against other individuals or denominations. This concurs with James Nestingen’s belief that Luther’s Small Catechism should not be used as enforcement against heresy.1 The ability to use the Bible and catechism to show the story of God at work in the past and present gave unity to the congregation’s mission of care in the community. One of the pastors mentioned that he used the catechism to show that the confessions of faith made in Scripture are also found in their own history as a congregation. Another pastor specifically mentioned the universal language of faith communicated through the Bible and buttressed by the catechism. He said, “When preaching, I know they know the text and I can reference the Bible stories. I do not need to use contemporary examples to illustrate the catechism.” He said the ability of the catechism to teach people to read the Scripture was made clear to him when he spoke at a youth event in Sweden. He did not know the pop culture references for these Nordic youth but he told Bible stories. He then used the words of the catechism to buttress the points made in the Bible stories. He joyously found at that youth event that the Bible and the catechism provided him with a context to share the good news of Jesus Christ.

1

Nestingen, “Preaching the Catechism,” 33.

87 A fundamental reason for understanding the positives of combining the preaching task and catechetical task of the pastor is to bring catechesis into the whole congregation. When catechesis is solely identified as a youth confirmation event, the congregation will find it more difficult to find unity in the mission and values of the church. When doctrinal knowledge is demonstrated to be merely as an academic exercise, it is more difficult for the pastor to bring a shared worldview to a congregation’s interpretation of events in the world. Martin Luther wrote in his commentary to Psalm 117, I confess this freely as an example to anyone; for here am I, an old doctor of theology and a preacher…Yet even I must become a child; and early each day I recite aloud to myself the Lord’s Prayer, The Commandments, the Creed, and whatever lovely psalms and verse I may choose, just as we teach and train children to do…I study them daily and remain a pupil of the catechism.2 Catechetical preaching is a multi-generational activity but it is also an intergenerational activity. Luther wrote about the need for himself to become like a child. With the pastors that I interviewed, I believe there was evidence of a renewal of humility among the adults that learned alongside the children. This project affirmed that having multiple generations present was a key indicator for the success of catechetical preaching becoming a purposeful element in the faith formation program of a congregation. All the preachers identified including all ages in the settings for their catechetical preaching as a positive experience. The pastor in the immigrant community found a renewal of identity for the congregation when the new immigrants and the long-term members of the congregation shared in the experience of hearing and discussing the catechetical sermon series. She also found parents had an increased confidence in their ability to teach their children the

2

Psalm 117, in LW 14:8.

88 chief parts of the Christian faith. She began the sermon series because she wanted to start a youth confirmation program for the immigrant population in her congregation. When she realized the condition of catechesis among the adults she knew she needed an approach that reached both parents and children. She found that adults began altering their work schedules to be present for the first Sunday of the month catechism sermons. Catechetical preaching assisted the different generations to discover their unity in Christ. The pastor who coordinated the Sunday morning youth confirmation classes with the Sunday morning sermons found his whole congregation united in catechesis. The people echoed back and forth in their words a common Christian faith. By using the same language in the confirmation class and in the sermon, catechesis was reinforced as a multi-generational activity that is life-long. The pastor who had the service of prayer and preaching in the afternoon for adult and public school catechumens found that they appreciated the experiencing of going through the process together. He enjoyed witnessing how they developed a pattern of mentoring across the age groups as they walked together towards having a common language of faith and action in the congregation and the community. He also used his catechetical sermons in a series of chapel services at his synod headquarters. By bringing this sermon series into the context of prayer he found that the staff found the chief parts of the Christian faith as a devotional footing and not just as an increase in knowledge. The pastor that holds a catechetical service to open the Sunday school hour told me that he observed the adults just watching the participation of the kids. He dismissed the children to Sunday school. Then he told the adults, “You are not observers at this service, you and I are also witnesses to the children. We are giving them an example of

89 how catechesis is a lifelong event.” The next Sunday the adults participated alongside of the kids and no longer sat separate from the kids. The children and adults all spoke more confidently in the responses of the liturgy at this catechetical service. Experiencing catechesis as a whole congregational activity helped the congregations bring about a renewal of core values and helped them form a shared identity. This identity was not developed around ethnic heritage, over which pastor was supported, or even denominational labels. The identity formed by echoing the language of faith was founded on the work of God in Christ Jesus. I evaluated the interviews through the lens of the earlier identified key indicator of maintaining preaching as the proclamation of law and gospel. I believe these preachers sought to maintain this role of the sermon. One pastor said about his attempt to be authentic in catechetical preaching, I want to avoid being contrived and import the catechism artificially into the sermon. I focus on the Bible text and invite the listeners to encounter this text with the catechism so that they have an “aha” of faith. They see their sin, the need for Christ, find themselves the object of Christ’s work, and so find life in the Word. Catechesis in the sermon is about preaching repentance and faith.3 It became clear in the interviews that none of the preachers just wanted to talk about doctrine in their sermons. They were not simply taking the materials from their youth and adult confirmation classes and presenting a Bible study or academic lesson during the sermon time in the worship service. They desired that the chief parts of the Christian faith would shape the way that people understood themselves and what God was doing in their lives.

3

Private interview with a pastor from Wisconsin.

90 The pastor who held catechism services on Sunday afternoons spoke of how he wanted the catechism to become a part of the language of prayer and not simply material that was learned. The catechism when used in the sermon was designed to shape the way people read the Scripture and their own lives. The pastor in the suburban congregation found a renewal of core values in the congregation because he said the listeners were developing a relationship between what they were being called to do with what Christ had already done for them. He repeatedly spoke of God coming in the flesh in Jesus because we are sinners in need of mercy. They could see the need for mercy in the world because they understood the condemnation of their own sin. As they gained the language to talk about sin they also gained the ability to talk about God’s response to sin. People grew to understand that their mission as a congregation came from the promise of the gospel. The ability of catechetical preaching to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ and not just to talk about Jesus helped his congregation understand the importance of sharing their faith with others. The pastor who was at a congregation near the Great Lakes Naval Station found that catechetical preaching helped the congregation maintain a sense of unity even while there was significant transition in the population of the congregation. By including the catechism as an illustration in his preaching, he allowed these people in transition to discover that they were part of the body of Christ, a community that they could find wherever their travels in the navy would take them. When preachers were asked if they had difficulty proclaiming the gospel during catechetical preaching, they expressed doubt that it was necessary to put those two goals in tension. The idea that one would either preach a topical sermon that focused on a part

91 of the catechism or proclaim the gospel was not found among these catechetical preachers. A key success in using the catechism in preaching for these Lutheran pastors was that they maintained the voice of proclamation. At times they were engaged in expository preaching and used the catechism as a key illustration in the sermon. Mostly they had developed a topical sermon aimed at increasing the faith of people in a particular doctrine. They were using the catechism to help people have faith in the promises of God. Catechetical preaching historically has served as the doorway to the church. It has helped people who were on the outside of the church find entrance into the language of faith and practice. It has also helped those who felt like they were slipping away from the assembly of believers to find their footing once again inside the body of Christ. The narrative interviews for this thesis demonstrated that all of these pastors were interested in equipping the listeners to be a part of the body of Christ in both the life of the congregation and in their actions in the world. The pastor from rural Nebraska commented on the importance of the Table of Duties section of the catechism to equip his members to honor their God-given vocations in this world. He said, “The Table of Duties makes more sense when there is an emphasis on the daily joy of repentance.” Catechetical preaching can assist a pastor to equip the listeners to have a Christian worldview that helps shape the actions of the laity in their individual lives. The framework of ideas and beliefs through which people find their place in a congregation and in the world around them can be shaped by many different factors. The pastor that wanted to heal the divisions in his congregation knew that unity was not going to happen just because he told the people to get along. Disputes were developing around

92 people who had different understandings of the purpose of the congregation. So that the members did not continue creating divisions in the congregation concerning the previous pastor, the new senior pastor sought to provide them with a common path towards action. Through catechetical preaching, he provided a way for people to talk about the work of God in their lives and to give them a structure to understand that work in action through the congregation. While people in a congregation likely will own a Bible and know some of its content, they may not know how to use that knowledge to respond to the challenges and opportunities of life. The pastors involved in catechetical preaching were not interested in increasing the vocabulary of their listeners. They used the catechism to help the people apply God’s truths in every area of their lives. Colossians 2:8 says, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ.” A pastor told me, “Catechetical preaching in my congregation has prepared my people to identify the dangers of false doctrine.” Catechesis can help a person discern deceitful knowledge and stay firm in their faith in Jesus Christ. The preachers interviewed demonstrated that the success case model for catechetical preaching is valid. The catechism can help listeners understand the Bible. The whole congregation will benefit. A pastor can preach with an authentic voice that proclaims the gospel and not fear that doctrinal sermons will be inherently boring. A pastor will find it possible to strengthen a common set of values in a congregation by developing a confessional identity in the sermons. This shared view of God and the world

93 will help people in the congregation relate God and to one another and to discern ways to act with mercy in the community.

CHAPTER 7 REFLECTION This thesis project was begun with the intention of identifying and validating the key indicators for successful catechetical preaching. In order to validate the success case model for this form of preaching, I conducted qualitative interviews with pastors. These pastors were identified by their peers as engaging in catechetical preaching. My knowledge about why and how pastors are engaging in catechetical preaching was increased greatly through these collegial interviews. In this chapter, I will discuss the value and meaning of this project, areas of further research, and my personal reflections. Value and Meaning of the Project Throughout this project I have been challenged to identify catechetical preaching and validate the role of this form of preaching. The historical study described in chapter two examined the preacher’s role in helping people understand their relationship with God and with each other. I found O. C. Edwards’s understanding of catechetical preaching as a form that helps bridge people into living in the assembly of believers to be a helpful image.1 The gap in the community, the space that exists between those that identify with the gathered brothers and sisters in Christ and those who find themselves on the outside, is bridged by preaching that guides those on the inside and those on the outside to find their bond in the work of God. Robert Kolb has written about this bridge1

Edwards, A History of Preaching, 184-85.

94

95 building work of Christian witness, “We approach the Scriptures and their re-creative power recognizing that we have been called to build bridges between the inspired Word and the twisted and perverted world in which our neighbors live.”2 I found that all the preachers that were interviewed sought the power of the inspired Word to renew their congregations. This historical role of catechetical preaching as a bridge into the language and life of the church and the Bible is still needed. It does not need to be a boring obligation. Martin Luther did not intend his catechism to be boring. The question and answer format builds around the questions, “What does this mean?” and “Where is this written?” These are not designed to be boring questions. One value of this project was finding pastors who are choosing to preach catechetical sermons because people continue to ask questions about God and themselves. As noted in chapter two, Kolb points out that the catechism was provided by Luther to be a summary of God’s Word. I believe I help people trust the Bible by providing, through catechetical preaching, the fundamental concepts and teachings of the Bible. The catechism is not just a list of knowledge to be memorized, tested, forgotten. The pastor can find in Luther’s Small Catechism a summary of the Christian faith that was written to be a prayer book and not just a textbook. In chapter two I highlighted that John Pless criticized how the catechism is often turned into a textbook.3 I found agreement with Pless’s appreciation for the catechism as a book designed to support the baptized life. Luther demonstrated with his tract A Simple Way to Pray that he viewed the
Robert Kolb, Speaking the Gospel Today: A Theology for Evangelism, Rev. ed. (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1995), 206-07.
3 2

In chapter 2 of this thesis.

96 Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer as anchors for a devotional life to prevent one’s thoughts from drifting towards our own works. James Nestingen and Timothy Wengert highlighted the importance of noticing the way the SC orders the chief parts. The catechism is strengthened in its ability to bridge a person towards the assembly of believers through the way it orders the chief parts of the Christian faith. I believe that this project reminded me to consider the order in which the Christian faith is presented. Preachers should consider not only the text of the catechism but the manner in which it is presented. Catechetical preaching in the context of a multi-generational audience is a key indicator for success. Keeping catechesis as a multi-generational activity in a congregation fits well with Luther’s belief that it is an impossibility to know the catechism perfectly. He did not imagine the purpose of the catechism to be simply providing knowledge. In fact, catechesis then is not just multi-generational but it encourages inter-generational conversations. It is highly profitable and fruitful to read it daily and to make it the subject of meditation and conversation. In such reading, conversation, and meditation the Holy Spirit is present and bestows ever new and greater light and devotion, so that it tastes better and better and is digested, as Christ also promises in Matthew 18:[20], ‘Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’4 Catechesis that moves beyond the classroom into the context of preaching in a congregation I believe encourages conversations to happen between the generations in a congregation. I found in my project that pastors did experience success in their congregations when they used the catechism as a way to have guided conversations towards the Bible. The pastor that had the habit of community time after her sermon

4

LC, Preface 9, in BC, 381.

97 supported the idea of catechetical preaching as a purposeful conversation into the Bible. The African immigrants sought to integrate what they heard in the catechetical sermon to what they had heard previously. Through the pattern of words used in the catechism, in the sermon, and in the discussion guide, the congregation was helped to develop a worldview that centered on the central promise of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. In that congregation, the catechetical sermons helped the African immigrants and the long-time members of Scandinavian background find unity in the Body of Christ. The pastor that held a catechetical service as the Sunday school opening found that adults and children heard together the words of faith. There was in that congregation a reminder that everyone in the congregation benefits from the simple words of the catechism. The experience of interviewing pastors in so many different contexts helped me gain confidence that the catechism can be a successful tool in preaching today. Bringing the catechism into preaching and not just into the classroom is important because it can also help move the role of the catechism in the congregation to become more than just an educational tool. When the catechism is seen as a way to support conversation about the Bible, it can be a helpful form of preaching. People with a postmodern outlook are no longer investing themselves into grand narratives of truth and identity, but they are still trying to place themselves into a sense of identity within their most immediate community. In this ongoing struggle for people defining themselves and their relationships to others, there are many forces at work influencing their sense of meaning and purpose. Into this struggle, preachers need to purposely proclaim doctrine. While the postmodern outlook may cause people to resist

98 systems that bring about unifying truth, I can stand my ground and provide them with a truth that gives us common ground. The catechism supports the preacher who wants to provide people with a way to see through conflicting narratives and find the good news that is for all. The authentic content of Jesus’ teaching should be preached, and I believe that through this project, I have demonstrated that catechetical preaching is a form of preaching that supports faith formation being anchored in the Word of God. In the great commission (Matthew 28:1820) Jesus reveals to the apostles how they will accomplish their mission to go and make disciples of all nations. The church will baptize and teach. The sermon should be a time for this teaching to be accomplished. This project is also valuable for pastors who are struggling with how to communicate the Christian faith with words that can be understood by people in the pew. Doctrinal preaching is the task of a translator who must work to anchor the gospel proclamation in specifics. Catechetical preaching answers Carl Braaten’s concerns about neopaganism because this preaching form proclaims clear words of promise that point listeners to the specific works of Christ. This project also helped me learn about the role that catechetical preaching can have in shaping the values and mission of a congregation. This preaching form not only supports the development of the individual listener, but it also helps the formation of community in a congregation. The pastor in the suburban congregation with a school had faced conflict that stalled its momentum to act in the community. As he preached through the year with the catechism, he was not only making a verbal presentation of the gospel, he was also giving to his listeners a vision for wholesome, authentic and healing

99 relationships that were shaped by God revealed in Christ. The pastor in Wisconsin spoke of how it is hard to live in community during times of suffering and struggle, and he believed that the common language of faith learned in the catechism was helpful. People that share in the language of faith are equipped to share words of encouragement that focus on the work of Christ. I believe this demonstrates how Philip Melanchthon used the words “doctrina, tradition, and ministerium as verbal nouns that have substance in their content but cannot exist without being put into action.”5 Catechetical preaching helped congregations gain confidence in identity. A congregation that has experienced division will gain unity in their actions in the community because they have a strong anchor of truth in Christ Jesus. Spending a time consistently focusing on the proclamation of God’s Word in its confession of faith will strengthen a congregation. If pastors find support through this thesis to use the catechism in their preaching, they will find they have gained a valuable tool in cultivating faith and life in their congregations. Through the use of the catechism, they will bring the Word of God into the hearts of their members and find that the Spirit will be at work making an impact in their lives. Further Research Catechetical preaching is designed to assist people understand their relationship to God and to the people around them. This project looked specifically at developing a success case model for catechetical preaching. Through the interviews with pastors that are engaged in this form of preaching I sought to identify the key indicators of success

Arand, Nestingen, and Kolb, The Lutheran Confessions: History and Theology of the Book of Concord, 4.

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100 that could be adopted by other pastors that wanted to engage in catechetical preaching. This research focused on the work that happens in the pulpit and how the pastors perceived their own success. The pastors I interviewed were attempting to shape the piety of the people in the pew. They hoped that their preaching would support the attempt of people to live out their beliefs in their daily lives. How successful this movement from the pulpit to the pew occurs was measured in this project through the narrative interviews with pastors. Further study is needed to understand the effect of catechetical preaching upon the piety of the people in the pew. I believe an examination into the different ways people understand piety should be included in research that would try to understand this movement from the pulpit to the pew. I think that the pastors I interviewed were under no illusions that they were going to change the practices of individuals in their congregation through a single sermon. I appreciated the humility they all expressed in trusting that God would be at work in their proclamation of the good news of Jesus. The tension between what they preached in the pulpit and what is lived in the pew is not new. In the Bible, we find Paul struggling with the tension between the call of God and his own flesh when he wrote, So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. (Romans 7:21-23) I recognize that I conducted this project from the perspective of my confessional Lutheran background. It is in my tradition to understand Lutheran identity and outlook to be shaped through catechetical training and defending a traditional Lutheran

101 understanding of the sacraments, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. Unity in the church is found in the unity of doctrine. The Augsburg Confession states For this is enough for the true unity of the Christian church that there the gospel is preached harmoniously according to a pure understanding and the sacraments are administered in conformity with the divine Word.6 I have confidence that the church is where “the gospel is purely preached and the holy sacraments administered according to the gospel.”7 I believe this confidence leads to a piety in confessional Lutheranism that has a communal character. Faith formation focuses on the “shaped and shaping role of individuals and communities.”8 Further study could be done to understand how the purpose of preaching is shaped by different understandings of piety. Another area of study could involve an attempt to reconcile the different uses of faith formation and spiritual formation. In the Literature Review of this project I discussed how Lutherans have historically defined faith formation through what beliefs are confessed. This understanding of faith formation is anchored in the conversation a community has about what it believes. In contrast to this understanding of faith formation others use the term spiritual formation, which could be contrasted with a definition of spiritual formation that focuses on what people do. The term spiritual formation appears to be anchored in the development of the habits of the Christian life. Is there a way to reconcile these different concepts of faith formation and spiritual formation without

6

AC, Ger. 7:2-3, in BC, 42. AC, Ger. 7:1, in BC, 42.

7

Martha Ellen Stortz, “Practicing Christians: Prayer as Formation,” in The Promise of Lutheran Ethics, ed. Karen L. Bloomquist and John R. Stumme (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1998), 61.

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102 running into the challenge of works-righteousness? Further study could seek to answer this question. Another way the research of this thesis could be extended is through a study of catechetical preaching beyond Lutheran pastors. All the pastors I interviewed were members of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, or the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. One of the pastors interviewed for this project preached his catechetical preaching at a regularly scheduled Sunday afternoon catechetical service. This was the typical pattern for catechetical preaching during the Reformation. In fact, churches were required to conduct services regularly to prepare the people to receive the Lord’s Supper in a worthy manner.9 In the past this type of service was common for Lutheran congregations, but it is now uncommon. However, many Reformed churches have maintained the tradition of this type of service and use the Heidelberg Catechism for these services. An interesting project to further the understanding of how catechetical sermons help shape the piety of people in congregations would be a comparative study of the catechetical sermons from different denominations. This type of research could also look at how different understandings of piety are reflected in the purpose of these sermons. Personal Reflection I began this project with the desire to see that catechetical preaching would become a purposeful element of faith formation in a congregation. I used the catechism in my preaching in the past during a sermon series on the Ten Commandments. I had known that there was a tradition to use the midweek services of Lent to preach these types of
9

Bode, “Instruction of the Christian Faith by Lutherans after Luther,” 181.

103 sermons, but I felt ill-equipped for catechetical preaching and worried that I was simply transferring into the pulpit an academic lecture. Mary Jane Haemig pointed out in her research of catechetical sermons from the 16th and 17th century that there was a growing complexity to these sermons. The complexity of these sermons might have developed because the preachers had confidence in the knowledge of their hearers.10 I am afraid the complexity in my sermons was more likely related to my lack of appreciation for the simplicity and plainness of Luther’s Small Catechism. Through my research, I gained confidence that the design of Luther for the Small Catechism and the Large Catechism was not to be dogmatic textbooks that cover every theological issue. He geared his catechisms to be books for prayer and meditation on God’s Word that equipped the baptized to live their daily lives. I have also gained confidence that this form of preaching is not just to be studied in history. When I think about how people move across the gap that exists in congregations between those on the outside and those on the inside, I appreciate the need for a common language and hermeneutic to read the Bible. When one of the pastors I interviewed spoke of how he would introduce a quote from the catechism with the words, “Remember these words…,” I am reminded that he was using the catechism to remind the people that they were a community bound together by their shared language of faith. Luther’s published catechetical sermons were used to bridge communities into the theological principles of the Reformation. So I appreciate that catechetical preaching has historically served as this bridge, and I have grown in my certainty that it is still capable of helping people.
Haemig, “The Living Voice of the Catechism: German Lutheran Catechetical Preaching 15301580,” 127-29.
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104 The spiritual conditions of people in the pew and in the community are worrisome to me, and I believe that providing people with the confidence of God’s Word in a clear confession of faith is important. Good preaching is vital for repentance and reform to occur in a congregation. I know that at times I want to take a shortcut in my preaching and just tell people what they should be doing with their lives. I might in the past have labeled that kind of preaching as the prophetic role of my pulpit. This project has reminded me that in my preaching I need to build the foundation for the congregation’s actions on the work of God in Christ Jesus.11 Our doing follows from who we are in Christ Jesus. My daily life finds meaning as I am brought back into the promise of my baptism. “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ (Galatians 3:27).” Building behavior on doctrine may sound dry and academic. I have worried that doctrine in my preaching has appeared as something that stands as an obstacle between us and the Bible. I know that this concern has caused me to be cautious in my preaching. I have worried that sermons that connect people to the doctrine of the church would get in the way of enabling the people being able to see Jesus. I think this project has given me more confidence to join Robert Smith when he writes, “Doctrinal preaching has a set of bifocal lenses: it has a vertical orientation in which it envisions the revelation of the Word of God, and it looks horizontally and sees the need for relevance in presenting that Word to human beings.”12 I believe doctrinal preaching helps people see who God is and who God is calling them to be in this world.
“Theologians exploring a distinctively Lutheran understanding of ‘formation’ underscore divine initiative again and again.” Stortz, “Practicing Christians: Prayer as Formation,” 58.
12 11

Smith, Doctrine That Dances: Bringing Doctrinal Preaching and Teaching to Life , 49.

105 My confession of faith is the scaffolding upon which I read the Word of God and the foundation of how I preach it every Sunday. The way that I know God and how I share him with others should not just be a tool that I use privately in my sermon preparations. While I hope all of my preaching is doctrinally pure and clearly proclaims the Law and the Gospel, catechetical preaching places these tools into the hearts of the listeners. Preaching on the chief parts of the Christian faith in a purposeful way in a congregation equips the listeners to read the Bible better and share the Bible with other people. Catechetical preaching gives people a road map that points them continually back to Christ. If I want people to be doers of the Word, then I must first connect them to the Word. I found the interviews that I conducted for this project to be an enjoyable experience. It was easy to talk at length about the purpose of preaching and how those pastors understood their role in proclaiming God’s Word. It was evident in each one of my conversations with these pastors they love preaching because it gives them the opportunity to connect people to the promises of God. I appreciated finding out how these pastors use preaching to shape congregational vision and individual piety. The power of preaching to influence a congregation is significant, and I found that each one of these pastors under takes this responsibility with a great deal of humility. I greatly appreciated how one of the pastors shared that he always looks for a Biblical account to help him communicate a part of the Catechism. He reminded me that storytelling does not need to be absent from catechetical preaching. Doctrine and Biblical stories should be told together.

106 I also noticed that all the pastors I interviewed had a long outlook for what happens from the pulpit. It was endearing to witness the sense of relationship that these pastors have with their congregations. They understand that sin is real and there is a daily need to repent and find refreshment in the forgiveness of sins. For instance, one of the pastors held a catechetical sermon series for five summers. He had a relationship with his listeners and he sought to build that relationship around a connection to God’s Word. He knew that he did not need to cover everything in a single sermon. Through a regular rhythm of simple words and plain explanations of the chief parts of the Christian faith, he provided the people with a structure to build relationships within the congregation. The ability to step into a pulpit and hope to transform lives through preaching requires trust in God to be at work in our proclamation. All of these successful catechetical preachers shared their confidence in God’s Word to be at work in the proclaimed Word. One reason I enjoyed these interviews was the opportunity to talk about the craft of preaching with my peers. Locally, I have not participated in this kind of encouraging conversation. Outside of the classrooms of seminary and graduate school, I have not talked at length with other pastors about why and how they preach. After conducting each one of these interviews, I felt refreshed and positive about the work of preaching. I believe that these successful preachers enjoy their vocation because they trust the Holy Spirit to be at work through God’s Word. The Next Step I serve as the pastor of a congregation that uses as its tag line, “Connecting People to Jesus.” This simple phrase serves as a simple guideline to our actions as a congregation. If we are going to do a new project one of the first questions we will ask

107 ourselves is, “Does this project connect people to Jesus?” I believe that I can turn to anyone in my congregation and say, “Yes, I am connecting people to Jesus when I preach sermons that communicate the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, Baptism, Absolution and the Lord’s Supper.” This project will be extended in my congregation by more integration of catechetical preaching into the current Christian education ministry, with time included for guided conversations. I intend to use the midweek services of Lent as a time for catechetical preaching. When I prepare these sermons I will specifically look for Bible stories that can serve as the structure for sharing the catechism. I recall how Robert Hughes and Robert Kysar spoke of preaching doctrine in the 21st century requires the preacher do translation work. I do want my preaching to bring the joy and promise of Jesus into the context of my listeners. I think that this translation work is important to make sure that I am not just preaching about Jesus but that this catechetical preaching delivers the good news of Jesus. I want to proclaim Jesus and not just talk about him because my goal is that the listeners of catechetical sermons will trust in Jesus.

APPENDIX A IRB CONSENT FORM
INFORMED CONSENT FORM Catechetical Preaching as a Purposeful Piece of a Faith Formation Program in a Congregation You are invited to be in a research study that examines the role of preaching in a congregation’s faith formation program. You were selected as a possible participant because you have been identified as someone affected by the role of preaching in a faith formation program. We ask that you read this form and ask any questions you may have before agreeing to be in the study. This study is being conducted by me, Rev. Evan Gaertner, as part of my thesis project for completion of a Doctor of Ministry in Biblical Preaching at Luther Seminary. My advisor is Professor Michael Rogness. Background Information: The purpose of this study is to understand the best practices for integrating preaching into a faith formation program in a congregation. Procedures: If you agree to be in this study, we would ask you to participate in an onsite or phone interview. Risks and Benefits of Being in the Study: This study does not include the likelihood of any physical or psychological risks. There will be no direct benefit to you for your participation in this study. Indirect benefits to you and/or your congregation will include a better understanding of how preaching can shape the youth confirmation program and overall faith formation program in the congregation. Confidentiality: The records of this study will be kept confidential. I will not include any information that will make it possible to identify you. All data will be kept in a locked file in my office or online using the software Evernote; only my advisor, Rev. Dr. Michael Rogness, and I will have access to the data and, if applicable, any tape or video recording. If the research is terminated for any reason, all data and recordings will be destroyed. While I will make every effort to ensure confidentiality, anonymity cannot be guaranteed due to the small number of people and congregations to be studied. Raw data will be retained but all identifying information removed by December 31, 2016.

Voluntary Nature of the Study: Your decision whether or not to participate will not affect your current or future relations with Luther Seminary and/ or with other cooperating institutions, including your congregation. If you decide to participate, you are free to withdraw at any time without affecting those relationships.

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Contacts and Questions: The researcher(s) conducting this study is Rev. Evan Gaertner. You may ask any questions you have now. If you have questions later, you may contact me at 9743 Betty Drive, Brighton, MI 48116 or egaertner001@luthersem.edu or (810) 355-6517. You may ask any questions you have now or later by contacting my advisor, Professor Michael Rogness at mrogness@luthersem.edu You will be given a copy of this form to keep for your records.

Statement of Consent: I have read the above information or have had it read to me. I have received answers to questions asked. I consent to participate in the study.

Signature Signature of parent or guardian Signature of minor subject’s assent Signature of investigator

Date Date Date Date

I consent to be audiotaped (or videotaped): Signature Date

I consent to allow use of my direct quotations in the published thesis document. Signature Date

Created 03/09/2012

APPENDIX B INTERVIEW WORKSHEETS1 Doctor Ministry Thesis Project at Luther Seminary “Catechetical Preaching that Forms a Purposeful Piece of a Faith Formation Program in a Congregation” Investigator: Rev. Evan Gaertner Advisor: Rev. Dr. Michael Rogness Date: _____________________ Onsite: _____ Phone: _______ Subject Name: ___________________________________ Consent form received: __________________

#1 What, When, How, and Where

#2 What results were achieved?

#3 What good did it do?

#4 What helped?

#5 Suggestions

This interview worksheet helped me keep the interviews casual but still provided me enough consistent structure so that I could conduct an analysis of the interviews.

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111 Bucket #1 What did they use that worked? What, when, how, and where? Bucket #2 What results were achieved? What did the catechetical preaching help them to achieve? How do they know it made a difference? Bucket #3 What good did it do? Why are these results important? What costs or negative outcomes were avoided by making catechetical preaching a purposeful piece of a faith formation program in the congregation? Bucket #4 What in their context did they use or access that helped them? What tools, references, sources, or aids did they use? Bucket #5 What suggestions do they have that would have helped overall success?

#1 What, When, How, and Where #3 What good did it do?

#2 What results were achieved?

#4 What helped?

#5 Suggestions

APPENDIX C CONGREGATION HANDOUTS Example of “Congregation at Prayer”1 The Congregation at Prayer A Guide for Daily Meditation and Prayer For the Week of the Second Sunday in Lent February 24, 2013, through March 3, 2013 Catechesis Notes for the Week—Food for the Soul—“[The Lord's Supper] is appropriately called the food for the soul since it nourishes and strengthens the new man. While it is true that through Baptism we are first born anew, our human flesh and blood have not lost their old skin. There are so many hindrances and temptations of the devil and the world that we often grow weary and faint, at times even stumble. The Lord's Supper is given as a daily food and sustenance so that our faith may refresh and strengthen itself and not weaken in the struggle but grow continually stronger…For such times, when our heart feels too sorely pressed, this comfort of the Lord's Supper is given to bring us new strength and refreshment…” (The Large Catechism, Tappert Edition, p. 449, paragraphs 23-24, 27). The Order of Meditation and Prayer Pray and confess out loud as much from the order of meditation and prayer as you are able, or as your family size and ages dictate. Learn by heart the verse, catechism, and hymn of the week Theme: Jesus Preaches the Gospel for the Salvation of His Enemies. Invocation In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Apostles’ Creed Verse: John 6:54
This insert is handed out weekly by one of the pastors I interviewed for this project. He publishes this insert to encourage a catechetical habit in the home. Formatting of this material has been changed from the original.
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113 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. Psalm: 4 and/or the appointed daily psalms listed below Prayer on the Psalm: O Lord, You never fail to hear and answer the prayers of Your children who call upon You in faith. Grant us to live in the joy of Your salvation all the days of our lives and to commend ourselves to you each day for the gift of quiet sleep and safety, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Daily Psalms Morning Evening Sunday 84 42, 32 Monday 119:73-80 121, 6 Tuesday 34 25, 91 Wednesday 5 27, 51 Thursday 38 126, 102 Friday 22 107, 130 Saturday 43 31, 143 Sunday 84 42, 32

The Catechism: The Sacrament of the Altar— Where is this written? What is the benefit…? How can bodily eating…? Where is this written? The holy Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, Second Grade + and St. Paul write: Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when He was betrayed, took Kindergarten + bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to the disciples and said: “Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me.” In the same way also He took the cup after supper, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” What is the benefit of this eating and drinking? First Grade + These words, “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,” show us that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation. How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things? Second Grade + Certainly not just eating and drinking do these things, but the words written here: “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” These words, along with the bodily eating and drinking, are the main thing in the Sacrament. Whoever believes these words has exactly what they say: “forgiveness of sins.”

114 Readings for the week of the Second Sunday in Lent Day Bible Stories for the Family and Daily Prayer Readings from Academy LSB, P. 299 Sunday Satan Tempts Jesus—Luke 4:1-13 Gen. 16:1-9, Mark 6:1-13 15-17:22 Monday Daniel and the Lions’ Den—Daniel Genesis 18:1Mark 6:35-56 6:1-23 15 Tuesday Daniel’s Dream of the Four Beasts— Genesis 21:1Mark 6:35-56 Daniel 7:1-28 21 Wednesday Lent: Daniel’s Prayer—Daniel 9:1-6, Genesis 22:1Mark 7:1-23 17-27 19 Thursday Daniel’s Vision of a Man—Daniel Genesis 24:1Mark 7:24-37 10:1—11:4 (12:1-13) 31 Friday The Proclamation of Cyrus the King of Gen. 24:32Mark 8:1-21 Persia—2 Chronicles 36:22-23 52,61-67 Saturday Look Ahead to Sunday’s Readings Genesis 27:1Mark 8:22-38 29 Sunday Look Ahead to Sunday’s Readings Gen. 27:30Mark 9:1-13 45,28:10-22 Prayers: Collects for the Week, Daily Themes for Prayer, In Our Prayers at Peace Collect for the week of the Second Sunday in Lent: O God You see that of ourselves we have no strength. By Your mighty power defend us from all adversities that may happen to the body and from all evil thoughts that may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. Daily Themes for Prayer Sunday: Pray for the joy of the resurrection among us; for the fruit of faith nourished by the Word and Sacraments. Monday: Pray for faith to live in the promises of Holy Baptism; for one’s calling and daily work; for the unemployed; for the salvation and well-being of our neighbors; for schools, colleges, and seminaries; for good government and for peace. Tuesday: Pray for deliverance against temptation and evil; for the addicted and despairing, the tortured and oppressed; for those struggling with besetting sins. Wednesday: Pray for marriage and family, that husbands and wives, parents and children live in ordered harmony according to the Word of God; for parents who must raise children alone; for our communities and neighborhoods. Thursday: Pray for the Church and her pastors; for teachers, deacons, deaconesses, and other church workers; for missionaries and for all who serve the Church; for fruitful and salutary use of the blessed sacrament of Christ’s body and blood.

115 Friday: Pray for the preaching of the holy cross of our Lord Jesus Christ and for the spread of His knowledge throughout the whole world; for the persecuted and oppressed; for the sick and dying. Pray for faithfulness to the end; for the renewal of those who are withering in the faith or have fallen away; for receptive hearts and minds to God’s Word on the Lord’s Day; for pastors and people as they prepare to administer and receive Christ’s holy gifts.

Saturday:

In Our Prayers This Week (This section was prayers particular to this congregation) Lord’s Prayer and Morning or Evening Prayer from the Catechism Hymn of the Week “Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart” (St. 1) LSB 708 Example of Congregation Discussion Guides2 1st Tablet Teaching Sermon Summary of Teaching Sermon – June 13, 2010 The First Tablet of the Ten Commandments Intro: I am the Lord your God. 1. You shall have no other gods. What does this mean? We are to fear, love and trust God above anything else. 2. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. What does this mean? We are to fear and love God so that we do not use his name superstitiously, or use it to curse, swear, lie, or deceive, but call on him in prayer, praise and thanksgiving. 3. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. What does this mean? We are to fear and love God so that we do not neglect his Word and the preaching of it, but regard it as holy and gladly hear and learn it. Discussion Questions: 1. To fear and love God is different from our fearing other people. Why is that? 2. Whenever you call on the name of the Lord, God is listening. Do you want God hearing every time you use God’s name? 3. According to Martin Luther, the Sabbath is not just because we all need a day off. How do you honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy?
These five discussion guides were passed out by the pastor in the congregation that preached a catechetical sermon once a month for five months. The discussions occurred immediately following the sermon. This congregation, which includes an African immigrant population, found these discussions very helpful for integrating the information from month to month.
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116 July Teaching Sermon: 2nd Tablet of the Ten Commandments In June we had a teaching sermon about the first 3 commandments, which we sometimes refer to as the “first tablet,” which are all concerned with our relationship with God. On July 25, 2010 we examined commandments 4-10, the ones dealing with our relationships with other people. (Note: The Ten Commandments are numbered differently by different churches, and in churches that descend from John Calvin’s teachings instead of Martin Luther, “you shall not make a graven image” is considered the second commandment and everything shifts until the end, when the 2 about covetousness are combined into one. The catechism we use from Martin Luther has the graven image clause as part of the first commandment.) This teaching sermon on the 2nd tablet focused on how the commandments are not just a series of “Thou Shalt Nots,” to avoid endangering the lives of our neighbors. More importantly, Luther’s “meanings” of the 2nd tablet describe positive actions we should take to promote life. Following the commandments is not about avoiding the bad, but actively doing the good! Can you hear the life-giving commands of God in Luther’s explanations below? 4. Honor your father and your mother. We are to fear and love God, so that we neither despise nor anger our parents and others in authority, but instead honor, serve, obey, love, and respect them. 5. You shall not murder. We are to fear and love God, so that we neither endanger nor harm the lives of our neighbors, but instead help and support them in all of life’s needs. 6. You shall not commit adultery. We are to fear and love God, so that we lead pure and decent lives in word and deed, and each of us loves and honors his or her spouse. 7. You shall not steal. We are to fear and love God, so that we neither take our neighbor’s money or property nor cheat them by using shoddy merchandise or crooked deals to obtain it for ourselves, but instead help them to improve and protect their property and income. 8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. We are to fear and love God, so that we do not tell lies about our neighbors, betray or slander them, or destroy their reputations. Instead we are to come to their defense, speak well of them, and interpret everything they do in the best possible light. 9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. We are to fear and love God, so that we do not try to trick our neighbors out of their inheritance or property or try to get it for ourselves by claiming to have a legal right to it and the like, but instead be of help and service to them in keeping what is theirs. 10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

117 We are to fear and love God, so that we do not entice, force, or steal away from our neighbors their spouses, workers, or livestock, but instead urge them to stay and remain loyal to our neighbors. Lord's Prayer Teaching Sermon The Lord’s Prayer – What does this mean? Introduction: God doesn’t need our prayers in order to act. We do not pray because God needs to know what is going on. Nor do we pray because God needs to be coerced to our ways of thinking, to do what we ask. God doesn’t need to be changed. That’s not why we pray. We pray so that WE might be changed. When Martin Luther wrote explanations to the Lord’s Prayer, this was the major theme. God doesn’t need our prayers for God’s name to be made holy, or for God’s kingdom to come, or to give us daily bread. We worship the God of the Entire Universe who is all-seeing and all-knowing and yes, all-loving. God knows better than we do how to give good gifts to his children. Therefore, we talk to God not to change God, but to change ourselves. Jesus’ example of a persistent neighbor, knocking until he is given bread to serve his guests, could make us think that prayer is about persisting until we get what we want. But God is all about us giving us what we need, and does it even without our asking. Persisting in prayers like the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, talking with God - seeking, asking, knocking - changes us from selfish people who are focused on our own desires, to ones who turn to God to give us changed lives. We pray to be in communication, in relationship with God – because this relationship transforms your life! That is why we pray. Our Father, who art in heaven God encourages us to believe that he is truly our Father and we are his children. Hallowed be thy name. God’s name is certainly holy in itself, but we ask that we may keep it holy – by teaching God’s word in truth and living in harmony with it! But anyone who teaches or lives contrary to the Word of God dishonors God’s name among us. Thy kingdom come God’s kingdom comes indeed without our praying for it, but we ask that it may come also to us – when the Father gives us the Holy Spirit, so that by his grace we believe his holy Word and live a godly life now and forever. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. God’s will is surely done without our prayer, but we ask that it may be done among us. What does that look like? God’s will is done when God hinders and defeats every evil scheme of the devil, the world, and our sinful self which would prevent us from keeping his name holy or oppose the coming of his kingdom. God’s will is done when he strengthens our faith and keeps us firm in his Word as long as we live. Give us this day our daily bread. God gives daily bread, even without our prayer to all people, though sinful, but we ask that he will help us to realize this and receive our daily bread with thanks. Daily bread includes everything needed for this life: food, clothing, home and property, work and income, a devoted family, an orderly community, good government, favorable weather, peace and health, a good name, and true friends and neighbors. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

118 We ask that our Father would not hold our sins against us and because of them refuse to hear our prayer. We pray that he would give us everything by grace – a free gift of love – for we sin every day and deserve nothing but punishment. We on our part forgive and gladly do good to those who sin against us. We pray that we might be the kind of people who do these things! Only God can change our hearts! And lead us not into temptation God tempts no one to sin, but we ask that God would watch over us and keep us, so that the devil, the world, and our sinful self may not deceive us and draw us into false belief, despair, and other great and shameful sins. We pray that even though we are so tempted we may still win the final victory. But deliver us from evil. We ask that our Father would save us from every evil to body and soul, and at our last hour mercifully take us from the troubles of this world to himself. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen. Amen means “Yes, it shall be so.” We say “Amen” because we are certain that these prayers are pleasing to God, and are heard by him. For Jesus himself commanded us to pray in this way and has promised to hear us. Discussion Questions: 1. What is it like for you to call God “Father” or “Mother”? Or some other close family member? How does this change your relationship with God for better or worse? 2. What are some ways you participate in making God’s name “holy” or helping God’s kingdom come on earth? 3. What is the “daily bread” you need to survive, and when have you been especially thankful for it? Office of the Keys Teaching Sermon What is the "Office of the Keys"? It is that authority which Christ gave to his church to forgive the sins of those who repent and to declare to those who do not that their sins are not forgiven. What are the words of Christ? "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." John 20:23 "Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Matthew 18:18 "Key" Quote "Our people are taught that they should highly prize the absolution, as being the voice of God, and pronounced by God's command. The power of the Keys is set forth in its beauty and they are reminded what great consolation it brings to anxious consciences, also, that God requires faith to believe such absolution as a voice sounding from heaven, and that such faith in Christ truly obtains and receives the forgiveness of sins." – From the Augsburg Confession, a basic document of Lutheran teaching What sins should we confess? (Luther’s Small Catechism)

119 Before God we should confess that we are guilty of all sins, even those which are not known to us, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer. But in private confession, as before the pastor or any Christian, we should confess only those sins which trouble us in heart and mind. Communion Teaching Sermon Exodus 12: 1-14 The Passover Lamb  A meal to tell their story of deliverance  How is Jesus as the Lamb of God – similar or different from the Passover Lamb?  Whose sacrifice is it?  The new covenant Matthew 26:26-28 + Mark 14:22-24 + Luke 22:19-20 The Words of Institution (whereby Jesus instituted this practice) also found in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26  Take and eat. This is my body. This is my blood.  God’s presence is a mystery in, with and under these finite, earthly elements Eating in a worthy manner 1 Corinthians 11: 17-34  Not caring for each other? It’s not the Lord’s Supper  Discern: Do you trust Jesus’ words “given for you for the forgiveness of sins”? That is all that is needed for us to be worthy to receive communion "Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread" (1 Corinthians 10:17)  Communion builds community  It is not the Lord’s Supper you eat if you are  Sent out from the meal to feed others Discussion Questions: 1. Do you have a particularly meaningful memory of sharing Holy Communion? 2. How might we create an inviting space at the Communion Table for those who struggle with their worthiness or feeling neglected by the rest of the Body?

APPENDIX D SERMON EXAMPLES Catechetical Sermon Example1 In Nomine Jesu Lent 2 “Thy Kingdom Come” The kingdom of God certainly comes into our world. At times the kingdom of God is revealed in a way that no one can miss what is at work. Consider the time when Elijah battled the prophets of Baal. Israel had experienced three years of drought, a drought that was called upon the land by Elijah because of the adulteress way that the people had been following after the false gods of Canaan. The land thirsted so that the people could remember what it was like to have their souls thirst for the Lord. After three long years the word of the Lord came to Elijah and told him, “I will send rain on the earth.” So Elijah presented himself to Ahab, the King of Israel. Elijah had 450 prophets of Baal gather at Mount Carmel. This showdown between one prophet of the Lord God and the 450 prophets of the false god Baal is one of those Bible stories with the best lines. The prophets of Baal have the first chance to call upon their god to show up. They dance and prance and do all that they can to invite Baal to send fire upon the prepared sacrifice. There was no answer. No fire. There was nothing. So Elijah says, “Cry aloud, surely he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened” (1 Kings 18:27)! The prophets of Baal cut and sliced themselves as was their custom but Baal did not show up. Then Elijah invited the people to come closer. He built an altar in the name of the Lord. He had a trench dug around the altar. He had four large jars filled with water and poured upon the bull prepared for the sacrifice and the wood. This was repeated a second time and a third time. The water flowed over across the sacrifice and filled the trench. Some of you might remember a time when you have gone camping. It has rained all week, which is in the back of your mind while you gather the firewood. You try to start the fire and of course the wood is soaked and nothing will start. Imagine how wet that wood on that altar became after those four rounds of soaking. With the wood for the burnt offering soaked, and an act of God the only way a fire is going to come upon that sacrifice, Elijah prayed to the Lord God with these words, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in
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This sermon was preached by me during Lent. Each midweek service in Lent this season focused on a petition of the Lord’s Prayer.

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121 Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding” (1 Kings 18:36). The fire of the Lord came upon that sacrifice and the drought ended. The thirsty land and thirsty souls were satisfied. Was the kingdom of God there that day in Israel? There was no doubt. God was at work. Elijah had brought the Word of the Lord to that land and the Kingdom of God was revealed for all the land. Another time that the kingdom of God was revealed to be present was a time that Jesus and his disciples were in a boat and a great storm rose up. This was our reading from Mark chapter four that we heard earlier. Evening had come and Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go across to the other side.” Hmm….Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side. Why did Jesus and the disciples get into the boat? To get to the other side. So they are in the boat and Jesus falls asleep. While Jesus is asleep, a great windstorm causes waves to beat upon the boat. You remember how Elijah had so much water poured on the sacrifice that the water overflowed and filled the trench? Those disciples were being overwhelmed by the water flowing into their boat. They woke Jesus up and cried in disbelief that he seemed to be so far away from their fear. Jesus rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” (Mark 4:39) Was the Kingdom of God there that night in the boat? The Word of God in the flesh was there in that boat, indeed the Kingdom of God was in that boat. Those are some examples of the kingdom of God revealed with no doubts. Do you see that baptismal font over there? I had Sophia in my arms, and said “Sophia I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” As that water overflowed upon her head, was the kingdom of God revealed to be at work? Yes! Where the Word of God is present the kingdom of God is being revealed. With your lips you confess that Jesus is Lord, with your hearts you believe that he has saved you from your sins. In that confession of faith is the kingdom of God being revealed? Yes! The Holy Spirit is at work in the Word of God daily rescuing us from our sin and giving us the promise of renewal and life in the forgiveness of sins. The Kingdom of God is being revealed in that baptism and daily life in Christ. Can the Kingdom of God also be revealed in those despairing moments of death? I remember recently a casket that was here in front of me. It was a day when the kingdom of God was a thing of doubt for some. Do you recall these words of Jesus, “I am the resurrection of life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26). Can the kingdom of God be revealed in those moments when the lights seem like they have been dimmed and the hush of grief is swallowing us up? Yes! I want to tell you the Kingdom of God is being revealed wherever the Word of God is present. I know that on that day when they gave Jesus that bruised reed for a scepter and the crown of thorns for his head, the Kingdom of God was being revealed. When Jesus was put upon that cross and mocked, the Kingdom of God was being revealed for us in those moments we are being swallowed up by death.

122 The Kingdom of God is present indeed whether we remember to ask for it or not, but in this petition of the Lord’s Prayer we have asked that the Lord would give us the faith to remember that his kingdom is at work in our world. Your world might be filled with the joy of a baby like Sophia or the despair of the body of Joanne in the casket. Your world might be just making it through daily life. Tonight we pray, “Thy Kingdom Come,” because we trust that the Kingdom of God is at work in our lives. The Word of God fills these moments with the power and glory of our king Jesus. Yes! You are in the Kingdom of God through the Word. Soli Deo Gloria

Catechetical Sermon Examples from Pastors Interviewed For This Project Catechetical Sermons on Baptism, Second Article of the Creed and Office of the Keys2 Baptism Sermon Transformed by Grace Acts 2:36-47 I want to speak in a language today that we should all be fluent in. And some of you already are, but for some of you are new to this language. My experience though is that even long-time churchgoers can get caught up using a totally foreign vernacular, so it’s always good to review. You may know that Pastor Vogel and I had to learn Greek and Hebrew when we went to the Seminary. What I realized when I went through it is that one of the best ways to learn a new language is to draw from on you already know. So let’s use our basic English skills for a second. What does this word connote? (Was) Obviously, it’s a past tense verb. I was once athletic. I was once full of hair. It works in sentences like that. The past tense tells us something that no longer is. Simple enough! Now, what does this word indicate? (Am) It’s a present tense verb. I was 35, I am 36. I was single, I am married. Very easy distinction! Okay, now take that and apply it to the language of baptismal faith, which is the teaching that we’re focusing on today. I know it seems like all kinds of denominations have their own dialect and language can vary. But let’s just use the language we already know and see if it gives us insights to how we might talk as baptized people of God. Remember, the past tense tells us something that no longer is. “I was.” The present tense tells us something that is right now. “I am.” So, what is the best way to speak about baptism? “I was baptized!” Or, “I am baptized!” Now, obviously, there is a sense in which we can speak rightly of our baptisms in the past tense. I was physically baptized in December of 1975. But words matter. And you know what’s dangerous about speaking of our baptisms in the past tense? That’s
These sermons were shared with me by the pastor of a large congregation with a school. He preached a yearlong catechetical sermon series that coordinated with each week’s youth confirmation lesson. These sermons illustrate how he sought to provide the congregation a common language of faith and unity in core values.
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123 where the baptism stays. In the past! It becomes something that has no meaning or value for right here and right now. But baptism isn’t just a one-time event with a one-day impact. It’s not just a ceremony. It’s not just a religious act. Tons of parents make that mistake when they have their children baptized. It’s like they check it off the list like it is one more thing to do. “Okay, that’s behind me now!” And they leave it behind them until it’s time to sign their child up for confirmation. But take baptism into the present tense. “I am baptized!” That changes everything! Knowing that “I am baptized” is the most powerful influence on my life every single day. And it should be in yours. Can God forgive me? Yes! Why would I believe that? I am baptized! Should I seek to avoid temptation and evil, even if I really feel like doing something that God says I shouldn’t? Yes! Why would I care? I am baptized! Should I set out to love God and love my neighbor as myself? Yes! Why would I want to? I am baptized! If I die a sudden death today is there any comfort for my family? Yes! Why? I am baptized! If I were to experience the terrible tragedy of losing one of my children can I be comforted? Can I get through that? Yes! Why? They are baptized! One of the ways a lot of Christians talk that I find unfortunate is when they give their spiritual resume like this: “I was baptized Catholic. I was baptized Methodist. I was baptized Lutheran.” That’s not accurate. We’re baptized into the body of Christ, not into a particular church body. But even beyond that, it would be so much more powerful and meaningful to live each day with the awareness that the baptismal event in my past and in your past offers us a radical new reality. We are forgiven; we are loved; we are new; we are children; we are. So, let’s talk that way! I have to admit, in some ways I am so excited to teach about this. There are two reasons that I’m a pastor in a Christian Church that affiliates itself with the name Lutheran as opposed to some other denomination or non-denominational church. There are other faithful Christians and churches out there. But what keeps me here is our language of Holy Communion and Baptism. I think it’s most consistent with an understanding of God’s grace. I get excited talking about his gifts! But I also get scared! Because let’s face it, most of us know this is one of those doctrines where there is disagreement in the Christian Church on things like how to do it or when to do it. You can start to wonder if anyone knows what they’re talking about. But you know what I think the problem is when people approach the teaching of baptism? They isolate it. They compartmentalize it. So it becomes something where they say, “I talk this way about Jesus; about salvation; about Christian living. And then I talk this way about baptism.” But the doctrines of our faith don’t operate in a vacuum. The Scriptures aren’t disconnected parts. At the center is Jesus. That means our language about doctrines like Communion, Baptism, or anything should speak the language of Jesus. So instead of dissecting every denomination’s nuances on baptism this morning, let’s just do that. Let’s just speak the plain language of Jesus, and we’ll see how he easily guides our speaking the language of baptism.

124 One thing that you realize right away when you dig into the language of the Bible though, is it’s totally foreign to the language of our culture. For instance, in our culture almost everybody thinks they’re inherently good. But the Bible speaks a different word. It says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” All! Religious people; non-religious people; adults; infants; men; women; men a little more though, right ladies? The Bible talks about God’s glory as the standard, not the person who is a little worse than you. And nobody measures up to God! The Bible tells us from the point of conception we have a disease that we inherited from Adam and Eve. That disease renders us spiritually dead. And one day the result of this disease physical death! That’s harsh language, I know. But if you don’t translate that reality it into your worldview, you’ll keep doing things that the Bible says are futile. You’ll try to please God with your religion. You’ll try to make yourself come back to life. But if God really is who He says He is we simply cannot be religious enough for Him. And if He isn’t who He says He is why would we even bother to try? You know what actually happens when we do try though? We end up looking and sounding like those people who have a language barrier with someone and they think they’re going to get through to them if they talk a little louder. “DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?” But all you get back this incredulous look that says, “Don’t you get it, we’re speaking two different languages?!” We’re shouting out, “I must do, do, do,” whenever we’re prideful about what we have accomplished, and whenever we’re defensive about the stuff we haven’t. People think about getting saved in a present tense kind of way. And in all our present tense doing we have people going in every possible direction, bumping into one another, speaking different languages right past each other about what’s really important in this world. But God is shouting out to us a totally different language by way of a cross and an empty tomb. He’s saying, “Have faith that it is done, done, done!” He speaks in the past tense about what saves us. It’s done. His last words on the cross—“It is finished!” Our brokenness with God is in the past. It no longer is! Our present is full of mercy and grace! No need for pride! No need for defensiveness! Jesus Christ is the only person not needing to be washed of his sins, ever, and yet he was baptized to signify, “My life is for you.” Because of what he did, you don’t have to do! He was perfect in every way and says, “You can have credit for it.” Because of what he did, you don’t have to do! Jesus is the only one who ever walked this earth that didn’t deserve a punishment for any misdeed, but he died a death he didn’t deserve to give us a present and a future that we don’t deserve. Because of what he did, you don’t have to do! And then he rose. He rose. He isn’t rising. He is not yet to rise. He rose. Death no longer is! There is nothing left to do. There is nothing left to get. It’s gotten! That’s the language of faith. Jesus does it so that we don’t have to. So how is the language of baptism the same as the language of faith in Jesus Christ?

125 Baptism can’t be an act that we do to show something to God, like how religious or faithful we are. It can’t just be a symbol. That would be totally inconsistent with the language of the Bible and of salvation. The Scriptures say we are washed clean of all our sins through baptism. The Scriptures say we receive the gift of faith and the Holy Spirit through baptism. The Scriptures say we’re a new creation on account of our baptism. The person that existed before God, no longer is. We’re given a totally new identity before God. In other words, Baptism is simply a means where Jesus does what Jesus does. In baptism we receive these gifts. And the nature of the gift and the size of the gift are totally dependent on the ability of the gift-giver, not on the person receiving the gift. That’s why we believe baptism is for all people, even babies. They don’t have to understand it yet. It’s a gift! You don’t just give your kids Christmas and birthday presents they already know how to use. They may not be able to speak as fluently as we can, but it doesn’t mean they haven’t been given a voice. And they’ll learn to talk the language of baptismal faith the same way they’ll learn the English language. Little bit by little bit through seeing it spoken in the faithful lives of the people around them. Now, what do you do when you receive a gift from someone? Hopefully you send them a thank-you! You honor the gift-giver. You didn’t have to do anything for the gift, but you get to say thank you for it! That’s why Christians speak a language of obedience of morality and values and seek to speak like God speaks. It’s why we still continue to confess our sins to Jesus It’s not religious talk. It’s to remember that baptismal event from our past today. All the promises that were made over us that day still hold true today. Saying, “I am baptized,” means that we’re saying, “Today, no matter where I’ve strayed; no matter what I’ve messed up; no matter how many times I forgot to say thank you; all that stuff is in the past when today I trust in the gifts of my baptism.” Jesus has taken the person that was filthy and disobedient in his sight and said, “That person no longer is!” Now he says, “You are—you are—mine!” Continually he feeds us with baptismal grace so that we live in the world’s sight like the person he sees us as. That’s why you can be asked boldly to participate in something like TRANSFORM by the way. You’ve already been transformed. Now you can just live like you are and make an impact in your homes and in your church according to the gifts you’ve been given. When we don’t speak that clear new language, we’re just talking a bunch of gibberish that confuses everyone. Let’s speak the language of baptismal. You are baptized. I am baptized. We are transformed by a gift. Let’s be the people that the gift-giver says we ARE! Amen! The Second Article of the Apostles’ Creed Sermon Philippians 2:1-11 “Identity” I have to say if the Bible were a mountain range, Philippians chapter 2 would be one of its peaks. It offers the most complete picture of who Jesus is, what he did, and why he did it. It tells us everything we need to know about him—his mind, his motives, his

126 whole identity. And if you really see Jesus—the real Jesus for who he is—you’ll also see what should be your mind, and your motives, and your identity. Quick review: The last few weeks we looked at what is called the first article of the Apostles’ Creed. Christians believe that God the Father created the world and everything in it. And it was good. But we also believe that the entrance of sin into the world tainted everything the Father had made. So He hatched a plan to do something about it. And this week and next we’ll unmask the central figure in this plan—the Father’s Son, Jesus Christ. In that video we watched earlier you saw there are so many opinions people have about Jesus. You’ll rarely hear anyone deny that this man Jesus was real and that he walked the earth. Even the other major world religions believe in his existence. He is an undeniable historical figure. But who was he, really? No topic has ever been the source of more debate in the history of the world. Was he a major historical figure like Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King? Or was he even more than that? He was so much more than that! Let’s go to the mountain top and see. First thing: Philippians chapter 2 says Jesus was in his very nature God. A lot of you have heard me talk about core teachings of Christianity—the things that all Christians need to believe whether or not they go to a Lutheran church or a Baptist church or any other church. You can think of teachings like our doctrine of baptism or the Lord’s Supper as spokes of the wheel. They’re important. They make the whole wheel turn better. But a person can be wrong about a teaching—they can be missing a spoke— and still be Christian. But this teaching of Jesus being divine—of Jesus being in his very nature God is in the hub of the wheel. It’s at the heart of the Christian faith. Jesus possesses all the qualities that make God unique and quite literally make God God. In his very essence he is God. He’s not part God. He’s God. Just like the Father is God. And as we’ll talk about in a couple of weeks, just like the Holy Spirit is God. How in the world can this be? Great theological answer: I have no idea! But maybe this will help some of us who are confounded by this teaching understand it a little better. I hesitate to share this because I don’t want to trivialize such a mystery. And there is no perfect illustration for the Trinity. They all have flaws. But a lot of you might have heard of the egg illustration. Bear with me if you’ve heard it before because I think it’ll help some people out who are new to the faith or coming to church. So, an egg has how many distinct parts? Or to use the language we use for God “persons?” Three—the shell, the white, and the yolk. They’re all different. But in their very nature, they’re all egg. Throw an egg into a pan and you see three parts. It doesn’t become three eggs. It’s still one egg. Now remember, the shell is not the white and the white is not the yolk. They are all distinct. And yet, in their very essence they are all “egg.” That might help make a little more sense of the dynamic of God’s make up. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all distinct, but in their very essence they are God. But at the end of the day, no matter the illustration, as Christians we accept this teaching by faith and on account of God’s revealing of its truth, not on the basis of whether or not it makes sense to us. There are a lot of things that I can’t comprehend that just beautifully are!

127 A lot of people obviously have a problem with explanations like that. Faith is beyond their grasp. And so you’ll hear a lot of claims that Jesus was probably just a great teacher of peace and love but as time went on stories about him got embellished in order to create a revolution. That way we can call him a good man without really having it make a difference. But here is the thing about that. The apostle Paul, in Philippians 2, was quoting a hymn from the earliest believers—from the people who had walked with Jesus and talked with Jesus, and some of whom had even seen him raised from the dead. And they had heard Jesus say himself that he was God. They worshiped him as God. If they didn’t believe him they would’ve thought he was a total lunatic for making such a claim. And they certainly never would’ve settled for claims that he was a good teacher or man of peace then. He had to be who he said he was to get the Jews to follow him. The Jews who turned out to be the first believers in Christianity would’ve never thought that their Messiah was going to be a man like Jesus. The Jews thought of God as this far away being, totally above the universe. For them to come around to accepting that about him means that there had to have been something so absolutely incredible about his presence—something they had never ever seen! It totally changed them! “So what,” some would say, a lot of charismatic leaders have created cult followings. Saying he had a strong presence doesn’t prove anything. And that’s true. But one difference: What drives every cult leader you’ve ever thought of—men like Jim Jones or David Koresh. Their glory! Their comfort! Their reputation! They serve themselves! And this is where Jesus is so radically different. Remember, if he really is divine what did he already have? Glory! Comfort! Reputation! He didn’t need to get it. He had it. But Paul says that all of that was something Jesus did not consider to be grasped. In other words, it was something not to be held on to. He let it go. And instead he was mocked. He was beaten. He was killed. He became utterly humiliated by taking on the role of a servant. You see, he wasn’t a leader who looked out for himself. He was looking out for us. He did everything for our glory, for our comfort, and for our reputation. That’s what made him appear so different. We create all kinds of false gods in our lives and we grasp on to them with all our might. We don’t want to let go to them because we think that’s where we’ll find our glory and comfort and reputation. Jesus knows it won’t work though. It just makes our grip on him loosen and loosen and loosen until it slips away. So he died to serve us to grab us back. He was punished by his Father so that we don’t have to be. Does that change your mind? It’s supposed to. Author John Stott says the only way to respond to Jesus is extremely. I know that’s so taboo in American Christianity. We’re taught not to be “fanatics.” It’s okay to like Jesus in our culture—to see him as things like a teacher—but don’t get too carried away. But if you read the Bible you’ll see that no one who ever met Jesus ever had a moderate reaction to him. They hated him, were terrified by him, or fell totally in love with him. If Jesus claims to be God and he’s not, run away from him because he’s nuts and not worth following. But if he is who he says he is everything in our lives should revolve around him.

128 Does your life revolved around him? Do you long to serve him no matter when, no matter where, no matter how? There is only one way you’re going to want to live like that. Believe that Jesus Christ, fully divine and fully God took on the flesh of humanity just so he could die for you and me. Jesus’ name is worth being praised because he allowed that name to be dragged through the mud. He became somebody worth following and serving by serving others. We try so hard to be somebody in this world. That’s why some of us work too much. That’s why some of us emphasize money too much. It’s why some of our young people don’t think their life matters unless they’re “popular.” It’s even why American churches and American Christians have tried to make a name for themselves by being larger and larger so that people will look at them and say, “They matter,” not through taking on the marks of humility and service. And you know what happens when we live that way? When we spend our life focused on how great it’ll be when we get to the top, God lets us fall to the bottom. Eventually everything we stake our hope on fails us. Even men like Steve Jobs the founder of Apple can’t beat the cancer that ravaged his body. He needed more than what his billions could buy him. God doesn’t want us to try and make a name for ourselves. You know how that works in the life of a church goer? Pastor Vogel and I hear it all the time. People say, “I’ve been going to church. I’ve been reading the Bible, I’ve been participating in programs at the church, or I helped someone out.” All good things! But if they’re the things that lead us to say, “I’ve made it. God must be pleased with me,” then that’s us trying to be somebody. That’s us trying to make a name for ourselves. But that’s not how it works if we really want the so-called good life. Everything in the Christian life is counter-intuitive. Jesus isn’t just a lowly man, he’s fully divine. He’s not just God, he humbles himself to take on flesh. And for us, if we want to be somebody the way it happens is to come to Jesus saying, “I’ve got nothing. I have no rights. I have no good in me that would satisfy you. I am poor in spirit.” Then you become somebody special because you’re covered by his name. You’re given an identity that’s blanketed by his qualities of love and service and sacrifice and humility. You’re a child of God. So, if Jesus has all the characteristics that make God God, and that gives him power to save you and me, well then what does that mean for our life if all those same characteristics are what cover our sins and make us like brand new? It means that there is not one thing we couldn’t do if we were as dependent on the Father as Jesus was. Isn’t that the ultimate in counter-intuitive? That the way we can do all things is by admitting we can do nothing? But with God we can do everything He made us for. You know, we’ve got to avoid dishonoring God through low ambitions. When I came to SOTL as a pastor I thought, “I just want to have a relaxing, peaceful ministry where I can raise a family.” A good ambition but far too low! We actually have been given the gifts of God that can transform homes and change the world. Let’s live like it! Maybe you come to church saying, “I want a place where I can meet some nice people, or where my kids can learn some good values, or where they can go to school.” Some of you come each Sunday saying silently, “I’ve always gone to church so I’ll keep going. I

129 want to sing songs I like. I want to understand the message. I want to be done in an hour.” Maybe you come because you figure you’ll need a place for a wedding or a funeral someday. None of those ambitions are inherently bad, but they can so easily become selfcentered. And besides that they’re far too low for our life with God. He says we can do great things. How? Well, we’re covered with grace. We’re seen as holy and beautiful because of his forgiveness. We have a brand new identity. Don’t hold on to it though and keep it hidden for yourself. Let go of it by taking on the role of a servant, pleasing God and helping others. Do you believe you’re here to do great things? Do you believe that you can? Or are you content with a moderate response to God? Don’t hold on to your ambitions. Let go and take hold of God’s. It won’t always look great in the eyes of the world. But it’s good! Jesus is here to serve you. With forgiveness when you fail. With His Word so you can grow. With your baptism so you can be marked with a new identity. With His Supper so that you can be with him. These are great things, ordinary as they all seem, just as he’s great, ordinary as he seemed. Be served. Serve. May this be your ambition! For Jesus’ sake! Amen! Office of the Keys Sermon 1 Corinthians 11 “Examine Yourselves!” I know it’s a bit odd to have the message right at the beginning of our worship. But today we’re going to focus on Paul’s words in 1st Corinthians that we should examine ourselves. Specifically he’s referring to how we prepare to receive Holy Communion, but there is also a broader approach to this self-examination. We should be looking in the mirror every day! So, today I want us to learn more about what it means to examine ourselves, and then I want us to be able to take the time to actually do it. Before we dig in though, let’s pray… My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Shepherd of the Lakes is what I would describe as a vibrant church. Hopefully during the last few weeks, as our capital campaign called TRANSFORM has been rolled out, we’ve highlighted for you some of blessings we get to experience as a church. Today you’re going to see a video that highlights what Pastor Vogel and I think about what God’s doing here. But as much as I enjoy being a part of our many ministry programs, next Sunday actually begins my favorite week in the church year. I absolutely love what is commonly referred to as Holy Week! One reason is that because of all the extra worship services there seems to be a lot less meetings going on, and that’s just fine by me! Another reason why I love Holy Week, and I’m sure this is something a lot of you are looking forward to as well, is our Good Friday Cantata. It makes Easter that much more meaningful if we first experience the sights and sounds of what took place on Friday. This year our confirmation students will take their first Communion on Maundy Thursday. That’s a cool thing to be a part of as well!

130 On Easter morning the full sanctuary, children in their Easter outfits, the Easter lilies adorning the altar, the rousing proclamations that Christ is raised from the dead; it’s just easier to pop out of bed on days like that! Those are just some of the reasons I love Holy Week. But there is a bigger reason than all of that for why I’m looking forward to next week. I can sum it up in one word: SIMPLICITY. Next week is just so clearly what we’re all about! It’s easy to forget what the Church really is. Sometimes church-goers even get confused. But the real purpose of the Church is not to have things like a school or a youth group; it’s not to operate a pantry or a Stephen Ministry; it’s really not the purpose of the Church to do any of the stuff we do around here on Monday-Saturday. The Church was established by God to be a set-apart community. It’s exists to be something very different from the world. And that happens when the Church functions as a group of people who love God and who love each other! It’s just that simple. That’s what we have to offer the world. All those things that go on here Monday-Saturday are just some practical ways that we’ve organized our community to live out its purpose. Those methods will change over time though, and they should change from time to time. It’s our true purpose for being that is timeless. And the reason I love Holy Week is that we just seem to get that a little bit better! I love the simplicity of us coming together on Palm Sunday and remembering that a king rides into town for people who just don’t get it! But soon he’ll show them what a different kind of king he is so that they start to! I love the simplicity of Thursday of Holy Week, where it’s made clear that being with a group of people, bread and wine, and a promise from Jesus to be there too is all we really need. I love the simplicity of the darkened and bare sanctuary on Good Friday. I love the simplicity of the words of our Savior before he dies, “It is finished!” And I love the simplicity of Easter. Three simple words tell us we have hope and a future. Christ is risen! I love Holy Week. And this year I hope you’ll set-aside all the complicated stuff in your life—the busyness, the relationship junk, the events—and enjoy the simple journey. Now, obviously there are 51 other weeks of the year, and those are the weeks that we want to help look a little more like Holy Week. Those are the weeks where it’s easier to forget. We start to make Christianity and the Church more complicated than it is. To keep that from happening, Paul encourages the Corinthians, and now us, to do what is perhaps the hardest thing to do in life. Examine ourselves. That’s a very tough thing to really do! Because if we’re honest we’re left to deal with things that we’d rather not! Let’s hash out why we shouldn’t be so afraid though. Because there is also an honest truth about Jesus that cures everything! As I mentioned before, the context of Paul’s words dealt with how the Corinthian Church was treating Holy Communion. There were divisions among them that just shouldn’t have been. It was their practice to have Communion in their homes as part of a larger meal. That actually sounds great! But there were a lot of abuses going on. Some of the members were cutting in line. Some were taking too much food. Some were getting drunk. The neediest among them were being ignored. Basically, they weren’t functioning as the body of Christ, but as individuals. Their communion was broken. And Paul’s

131 concern was that when they took Holy Communion, then, they were missing the whole point. So, on account of this, Paul says, “Examine yourself first.” They needed to make sure they’d be worthy of receiving the gift. Now, what does that mean practically? Words like worthy and unworthy can be awfully confusing when it comes to the Christian life. In the secular world we think of someone as worthy of receiving something because they did something good. Someone is unworthy to receive something because they did something bad. But it’s the exact opposite in the Christian life. As a matter of fact, you want to receive Communion in an unworthy manner? Think that you deserve it. You want to receive it worthily? Know that you don’t! We watched that video earlier where it was asked “Is a clean slate possible?” That was a man who was examining himself. He was being honest and admitting that the good in his life wasn’t good enough. He could’ve and should’ve done more. He was being honest and recognizing that his efforts at morality and service were attempts to get something rather than to give something. Is a clean slate possible? What happens when you examine yourself? I know what happens when I examine myself. My life is filled with could’ve, should’ve, and would’ve. It’s also dominated by too many shouldn’t haves! Is a clean slate possible? Sometimes I’m tempted to think the way to be made clean is by trying harder. Or I hone in on the stuff that I do well. Anything to keep me from confronting the reality of sin in my life! Does that sound anything like you? Well, examine yourself. It is if you spend any moment in your life thinking, “I better do this so that God rewards me, or so that He doesn’t punish me.” That’s you thinking you’re capable of saving yourself. It is if you find that you talk about a God who always seems to agree with you already think or believe. That’s you placing yourself above God. It is if you find that you explain away your struggles in life as the fault of someone or something else. That’s you failing to remove the plank from your own eye. It is if you find yourself wishing that others would change so that you can be happy. That’s you totally missing the point! Because a true examination of ourselves leads to much different conclusions! We are broken sinners with nothing to offer God that would make us acceptable. We have failed the examination. Is a clean slate possible? The answer is simple. Our preschool students know it. It’s the one we resort to when we don’t know any other answers. And the truth is, there is no other answer than, Jesus! Jesus Christ was examined by his Father. And the conclusion was, “This is my Son, with whom I am well pleased.” He was tested by Satan for 40 days in the wilderness, and he passed the examination without blemish. Pontius Pilate quizzed him, looking for one little crack. He found none.

132 But this is how Jesus chose to examine himself. I’m a cheater. I’m a liar. I’m an adulterer. I’m an outcast. I’m self-righteous. I’m a gossiper, slanderer, bigot, and murderer. Jesus allowed that dirt and filth to cover him for one simple reason! So we can have a clean slate. Jesus wore our sins to take our sins away. Jesus failed so that we can pass. Jesus died so that we can live. That is pure grace that is received simply by faith that believe Jesus can do this. Our clean slate depends on him and what he did. When you get that, it changes how you use his gifts. It changes how you treat others. But the minute we start thinking that we’re entitled to anything because of what we’ve done, God starts to disappoint us greatly. We wonder, “Why didn’t this go my way God? I did all the right things!” The same thing happens in our relationships with others. We can get angry and hold a grudge when people don’t live up to our expectations. What Christ did for us does demand a different response! And that response it to receive the sacrifice of Christ’s body faithfully! To think we deserve anything brings judgment upon us. To ignore the needs of others around us after our need has been so fully met brings judgment upon us. The devil is there in our lives, day in and day out to try and make it way harder to be Christ’s Church than it should be. He’s subtle. He’s tricky. He’s a liar. Don’t fall for it. Examine yourself in light of God’s Word and conclude, “Yes, I am a sinner.” Examine yourself in light of God’s Word and conclude, “Yes, I need Christ’s sacrifice.” Examine yourself in light of God’s Word and conclude, “Yes, Christ died for me. Yes, Christ forgives me.” Examine yourself in light of God’s Word and conclude, “Christ has set me apart. He has made me special. I will seek to live like it by loving Him and others!” It’s simple. Lent Sermon Series: Utilizing Bible accounts for each of the Ten Commandments – Ash Wednesday through Easter3 Ash Wednesday Ninth Commandment: You Shall Not Covet Your Neighbor’s House Tenth Commandment: You Shall Not Covet Your Neighbor’s Wife … Bible Narrative: 2 Samuel 11:1-4 Tonight, 2 Samuel 11 is used in conjunction with the Ninth and Ten Commandments. This Bible story is written for your Lenten – repentant - learning. For your warning AND for your repentance! “Let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall,” (1 Corinthians 10:11)! The Law of God is good and wise. The Ten Commandments describe what your life before God and before one another should look like. But you and I are sinners. Children of Adam and Eve! Our sinful flesh does not do what the Law requires. The commandments say: “You shall not covet” and, because of

This catechetical sermon series was prepared by a pastor from rural Nebraska. I interviewed him for this project and he shared this series to illustrate how he used Bible accounts to preach the Ten Commandments.

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133 our sinful nature, we are off to the races COVETING! We profusely covet what doesn’t belong to us. And so the Commandments reveal our sin. Point them out to us. Like an X-ray or CAT scan machine! It’s really ugly! Brutal! Shocking! We really didn’t think we were that bad! We could have never imagined this sin sickness to be so deep! Corrupt to the core! Lost and condemned persons we are due to our sinful condition! In addition, the Commandments silence all our flimsy fig leaf excuses of selfjustification before God and hold us accountable. The Ninth and Tenth Commandments that say: “You shall not covet,” expose us for who we really are: SINNERS! And this Word of God kills us! And that’s very good. Because that’s the only thing you can do with the old Adam / Eve! You can’t rehab old Adam / Eve! You can’t salvage old Adam / Eve! The old Adam / Eve by daily contrition and repentance is to be drowned and die with all sin and evil desires! In addition, tonight’s Scripture is also written for our comfort. There is forgiveness for sinners. Every sinner! For every sin. No matter how heinous. There is free and total pardon for you, me, King David, and the world through Jesus Christ our Lord and His holy week innocent suffering and Good Friday dying! Consequently, there is a promise from Jesus Himself! And it is this: “I forgive you!” This is very good too. For all you’re left with here is faith – faith alone – in Jesus and His absolution. And that faith is the new creation – the new creature – that lives before God now only by faith in Jesus! Now to the text. King David. Doesn’t do his kingly vocation. “In the spring when kings go off to war” David farms it all out to General Joab. It’s up to General Joab to fight Israel’s enemies and defend Israel’s borders while King David loafs. Joab ravages and besieges. David dawdles. Joab and all Israel are fighting in the field. David loafs at home. And so one night when David can’t sleep he spots her. He can’t believe his eyes! She’s taking a bath! Right out in the open! What kind of women would do that? It is as if she wants to be seen on purpose! Perhaps she has something on her mind! Hmm? He can’t take his eyes off her. She’s gorgeous! Stunning! What a body! Kim Kardashian or Jennifer Anniston have nothing on her! She could be the cover girl for GQ or the centerfold for Playboy every month for the next ten years! Who is she? This naked bathing beauty? As if David didn’t know. Her name is Bathsheba. Daughter of Eliam. And she has a wedding ring on her finger! She is wedded to Uriah the Hittite! Eliam is the son of one of David’s counselors, Ahithophel. And both Eliam and Uriah are both members of the king’s personal bodyguards (2 Samuels 23:34, 39). Beautiful Bathsheba: Eliam’s daughter – Uriah’s wife. They all know each other! Very well! And King David covets her. Doesn’t give a rip that she’s married. He wants her. And he wants her now! Badly. No low “T” with this man! He will satisfy his desires no matter what. No matter who he hurts. No matter whose lives he destroys. No matter who he has to kill. HE WILL have what he covets! He will have her! He is the king! And what the king does is right! So he barks out orders: “Go fetch her for me! Chop! Chop!” “And don’t forget to sneak her through the back door! I’ll have the lights dimmed, the candles lit, and the romantic music playing softly!” Off go David’s servants. To her house. Right across the street no doubt!

134 “Good Evening Madam Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam and wife of Uriah. My, don’t you look ravishing tonight. The king requests your …. presence. Please follow us.” And they escort the ravishing bombshell directly to the king’s bedroom. The one-nightstand is consummated! Underneath the canopy and between the sheets of his majesty’s royal bed! His coveting led directly to physically adulterating his marriage and Bathsheba’s. And David could care less. He got what he wanted! He got what he coveted! What or who is it that you covet? What’s that? You say you don’t covet? Nonsense! Of course you do! You are no better than King David. You are just as bad as King David. Your coveting knows no bounds! It ranges from another person’s spouse all the way to your neighbor’s land, home, or investments! You name it. Whatever your neighbor has – you want it! You’re never content with what God has given you! Taking people to court is the usual way to extend and bring to fulfillment the coveting! All under the cover of legality! “See I have the title! It was awarded to me! The inheritance is mine! The court said so!” The tentacles of coveting extend into everyday business transactions. In these tough economic times – your neighbor out of work – his 401k tanked – deep in debt – has property and possessions. With all the cunning you can muster and with an eye for more profit you harass and hustle him into selling his stuff for only half of what it is worth. And you justify the purchase by saying: “I got a super deal!” And like David you could care less. Because it’s all about you Baby! First come first serve! Look out for numero uno! Survival of the fittest! You see how deep the sin is? It’s really bad. “You shall not covet!” The last two commandments reveal our sin, indict, convict and condemn us. God is not pleased! These commandments show God’s wrath against our coveting! Lost, dead, and condemned you and I are in our sin! But here is the good news! Really, really great news! His name is Jesus. God was in Christ Jesus reconciling the world to Himself – NOT COUNTING YOUR SINS AGAINST YOU! Imagine that! God forgives. He forgives you! Because of Jesus! And only because of Jesus! How can this be? Here’s how! God made Jesus, the sinless and perfectly holy one, TO BE SIN! “He who knew no sin was made to be sin.” And to be cursed (Galatians 3:13)! Yes, that’s right! Jesus was determined to go all the way for your salvation. He wouldn’t stop until He took all that is yours – including and especially all your sin! “God has laid on him the iniquity of us all,” (Isaiah 53). Perfect and holy Jesus is made to be sin by bearing all your sin, all my sin, all the world’s sin in His body. So much so that Jesus is MAXIMUM SINNER! He willingly goes under the Law and endures His Father’s wrath against all sin and every sinner! In your place. Vicariously! The greatest and only sacrifice that atones for sin: Good Friday’s Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Now that the Law has accused Christ on the cross, it looks all around. It looks at you. But you are baptized into Christ’s death. Jesus gives you His Good Friday Body and Blood to eat and drink sacramentally. In Christ the Law is fulfilled for you. All the Law’s accusations are used up in Christ and His promises. And what does He promise: Te absolvo! You are forgiven. All your sin -- all your coveting is answered for! And you have peace with God through Jesus Christ!

135 Have a happy Ash Wednesday and a wonderful Lent! In the Name of Jesus. Wednesday of Lent 1 Eighth Commandment: You Shall Not Give False Testimony Against Your Neighbor Bible Narrative: Matthew 26:57-68 Genesis 3: “Did God really say? Oh, come now. You won’t really die!” Lies – dirty rotten lies from the father of lies. “God’s holding out on you. You can’t trust Him! Go ahead and eat. Can’t you see how pleasing to the eyes the fruit it?” Slander! Lies and slander. All in order to dethrone and kill the Lord and Giver of Life! And Adam and Eve believed in the lie. The false witness! And the day they ate … death! Fast forward to the New Testament. This time Satan uses very religious people as his instruments. His mouth. His tongue. To besmirch and ruin the Preacher from Nazareth’s reputation! And more! We can get rid of Him! We can do in this troubler of Israel! All we need are a few lying tongues! That’s how Jezebel and Ahab snuffed out Naboth in order to get his vineyard. That’s what the high priest Pashur did to Jeremiah. In order to justify themselves Pashur and his colleagues made plans. Schemed. Allowed Jeremiah to be arrested. Physically abused. Held captive. In order to ruin his reputation and ‘kill’ him with their tongues. And it all appeared to be so pious and right! Now here stands Jesus! Before another high priest -- Caiaphas! And all his religious cronies! On trial! You hear the word “trial” and you automatically assume all will be fair and just. Judge and jury will hear the case impartially. Witnesses will have integrity. Yeah, right! They’ve got it in for this Jesus! No! We too have it in for this Preacher! We too look for false evidence. We too look to betray and kill God – God in the flesh – the Lord Jesus with lies and slanders that flow from our tongues! “Bring in the scoundrels … we mean witnesses! Yes, that’s right! Hurry! Most Reverend High Priest, listen to what they have to say about the Preacher!” But none of the lies and slander achieved the goal: putting the Preacher to death. Finally two rogues speak up: “Preacher Jesus declared that he could tear down this magnificent King Herod built temple here in the city and then three days later rebuild it!” At last! Now we’re on to something! This might just be the ticket. This may just get Him the gallows! I mean … really … who does this Jesus think He is? God? No man can do such things! Brilliant move by the prosecution! False witness! Misrepresent what the Preacher said and meant! Explain everything from His preaching in the worst possible way! After all, you remember that when Jesus preached that particular sermon, the temple He was talking about WAS HIS BODY – not the building! Jesus was referring to His Body as the dwelling of God on the earth. He was predicting His death and resurrection! (John 2) But who cares! Who will believe it? We just love wallowing in false testimony! Not the truth! Especially when it comes to this Preacher! In order to get rid of Him! He claims He can all-by-Himselfdemolish Herod’s temple – that took forty-six years to construct -- and then build it again in three days! Preposterous! Outrageous! Absurd! Don’t you see how dangerous this Preacher is?

136 A magnificent but wicked twisting of Jesus’ sermon! What deadly poison! Let’s kill Him with our tongues! Let’s get rid of Him once and for all! So what have you to say about that Jesus? Is this true? Speak up man! Won’t you defend yourself? But Jesus – amazingly remains silent! Not a word from His lips! Public lies are not worthy of an answer! Even when we distort His preaching! He patiently bears such malicious evil. And so the High Priest takes another tact. A different line of questioning. “All right Jesus – I remind you that you are under oath and that God Himself is our witness and I am God’s man here. So you’d better answer my question. This is no joke! This is very, very serious! So now I ask you before the living God: do you believe that you are the Christ – the Son of God?” And that’s when Jesus finally speaks up! Boldly! All of a sudden His tongue works! He is not tongue-tied. He will confess and give witness TO THE TRUTH, the whole truth and nothing but the truth! Even though it puts Him in the gravest of danger! With this answer, His enemies – you, me, Caiaphas, and all his cronies – have finally caught the Preacher! We get exactly what we have wanted all along – that the preacher gets handed over to the hangman! Aren’t we so proud of ourselves? Doing God such service! And with such zeal! Justifying ourselves! And so Jesus categorically states – categorically preaches another sermon. And what a sermon it is! “Indeed I am! Your question, Caiaphas, had the answer in it! Yes, I am the Christ! I am the Son of the God! I certainly am the Savior! Me and no one else. In just a little bit you’ll see the truth of this fact. I am the fulfillment of Psalm 110 and Daniel’s prophecy! I am the everlasting King who is given all authority in heaven and earth! In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming in the clouds of heaven! How’s that for an answer?” Caiaphas’ ears are burning! Tears his robe in two! And his tongue goes wild! More lies! More slander! But all so religious! In what appears to be so right! “This Preacher is the most wicked of all! What irreverence! What blasphemy! What sacrilege! No man – especially this Preacher – can be the Son of God! The Messiah! We don’t need any more witnesses! Wouldn’t you agree? He deserves to die?” “Yes! Absolutely! It’s a no brainer!” we all shout. “He certainly does deserve the death penalty Caiaphas!” And then we march right up to False Witnessed Jesus – gather up a boatload of spit with our tongues and expel it all in His face. Then some of us, as if our words and spit are not enough, clench our fists and pummel His face. Some of us hold our hands open and slap Him as hard as we possibly can! “After all, He deserves it! Claiming to be God’s Son! Caiaphas is dead on! Total blasphemy! So if you’re the Messiah, prophesy! Who just punched you? Who just slapped you silly?” But with the words from His mouth Jesus testifies to – witnesses for – SALVATION! FOR SINNERS! Yes, for sinners who use their tongues to give false testimony! False witness! Even against their very own Messiah! Against Preacher Jesus Himself! “Yes, it’s just as you say Caiaphas. I am the Christ! I am the Son of God!” That is His sermon! A message of salvation! Hidden in this captured, bound, despised, beaten, condemned, and rejected Preacher is God in the flesh. God’s eternal

137 Son! Revealing and proclaiming the good news that the salvation of the world is here. Right before their very eyes! Right before our very eyes! Now then, it is the time to use our tongues to confess and repent. We did Him in with our slanderous lies. With our false testimony. By perverting His words – His sermon about the temple of His Body. We tried to justify ourselves by arguing that He blasphemed. We were wrong. We sinned! We blasphemed by not confessing Him to be the Christ as He said. And then claiming that He deserved to die! What sin! We deserve to die! We deserve God’s temporal and eternal punishment! That’s so true! Finally, using our tongues to speak the truth! So I tell you. Listen to the words that Jesus has given me to speak. His words in my mouth! His words on my tongue! Here they are: God doesn’t give you what you deserve. He gave it to Jesus. Jesus used all your evil and turned it for your good – for salvation. For you! He took all your sin – thoughts of the heart, words of the tongue, and deeds of the body – into Himself. And He died with them on the cross! And so you are forgiven! Totally! You are covered with Jesus’ blood from His cross. So now Jesus defends you and your reputation against the devil! “Oh yes, they’re sinners Devil! But all their sin now belongs to Me! I took it all in My Body on the Tree! You have no rights in this courtroom. Your accusations against them don’t work anymore! So get lost!” Jesus speaks well of you! Explains everything about you before His Father in heaven in the kindest way! And it goes like this: “I died for them! My Body, the temple, was Calvary destroyed in death! But in three days I rebuilt it. I did something completely new! I rose from the dead! Just like I promised! For all these sinners and for their salvation! They are my brothers and sisters! And now I put into their mouths my most holy Body and Blood. For the cleansing – the sanctification -- of their mouths, tongues and hearts!” Before the Father, your reputation is spotless. All for the sake of Jesus. In the Name of Jesus. Wednesday of Lent 2 Seventh Commandment: You Shall Not Steal Bible Narrative: 1 Kings 21:1-16 MF Global! Bankrupt! $1.2 billion of investments just goes missing! Everyone knows it’s been stolen! But John Corzine, the head of it all, would only say before a Senate hearing on the matter: "I simply do not know where the money is, or why the accounts have not been reconciled to date." I.E. that’s legalese for: “Don’t you know who I am? I’m the great John Corzine! Former United States senator and New Jersey governor! I can do whatever I want. I am above the law! Now let’s get this sham over with so that I can carry on with my billions and steal more billions from someone else!” Sinners do not fear and love God. And so they brazenly rob their neighbor’s money and possessions. And they’ll do it in any dishonest way that they can! Even if it means that they have to rig the legal system by making robbery permissible – through legislation. Or by greasing judges’ palms or buying off lawmakers! Whatever it takes! Help folks improve and protect their possessions and income? Look out for your neighbor? Do what is best for him? For her? You’ve got to be kidding! Yeah right! John Corzine. $1.2 billion! Gone-di! Pulls a Bernie Madoff and gets away with it!

138 Oh, and by the way, there was another incident! Did you hear about it? It didn’t get any headlines on CNN or Fox News. You didn’t read about it in the Lincoln Star or the Omaha World Herald. But it is recorded in 1 Kings! Yes, that’s right, it’s in the Bible! And it involves another bigwig politician! This time it implicates the king of the northern kingdom – Samaria – his majesty - Ahab! And what a piece of work Ahab is! “Did evil in the eyes of the LORD” 24-7-365! Out-eviled every previous Samarian king before him! Didn’t fear, love, or trust in God above all things! Didn’t fear, love or trust in God at all! For starters, he married a nonIsraelite, Phoenician unbeliever, and fanatic worshiper of idols – Jezebel! That was strictly forbidden by the LORD! Then Ahab not only introduced but also endorsed the liturgy of Tyre into his kingdom (1 Kings 16:29-34). He was very contemporary! Very up to date! Very relevant! On the cutting edge! Quite ecumenical! Tolerant! After all, liturgy is neutral! Especially the foreign liturgies that bring in the crowds and cash! So Jezebel’s beloved national idol, Melkart, the Phoenician Baal, became the officially endorsed god and Baalism became the protected religion of the land of his majesty king Ahab! Syncretism – the mixing together of different religions like a salad and calling it Food Network good -- was the rage! Still is! “We’re all going to the same place Reverend! We all believe in the same God! Doesn’t really matter what religion you choose! Just choose! Just be sincere! Now that’s authentic!” That sure floated Ahab’s boat! And so all things religious were tolerated – except the worship of the one true God – the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses who brought the Israelites out of Egypt and redeemed them! That God? Yahweh? The great I AM? Intolerable! Watch out for the all-things-tolerant -crowd! They are the most intolerant, the most tyrannical people you’ll ever meet! But his majesty isn’t done yet! He also makes an Asherah pole! Asherah, of course, was the female consort of Baal, the female queen idol. Can’t just have male gods! Got to go the whole nine yards! When it came to idolatry, his highness Ahab made the northern kingdom eat the whole enchilada of pagan delicacies! And then his majesty made political alliances that the LORD strictly had forbidden(1 Kings 20:31-34)! Apostasy – idolatry – spiritual adultery – the cause of Israel’s fall and her exile a century later reached a new high during Ahab’s reign! But now his majesty has his eye on a vineyard! A vineyard he doesn’t own. It belongs to citizen and fellow countryman Naboth, his next-door neighbor. Therefore it’s a vineyard that not even the king can have! (Deuteronomy 17:14-20; 1 Samuel 10:25; Leviticus 25:23-28; Number 26:7ff.) But Ahab’s into vegetables. Vegetable gardening. And we all know the benefit of veggies! Got to watch your cholesterol! Need more fiber. Less red meat. Can’t let our children become obese! Got to set an example for the children of Samaria! The first family needs more land for royal veggies! It’s all the rage! Let’s move! “So I’ll make Naboth an offer he can’t refuse! Hey, Naboth! I’m on a veggie kick these days! Give me your vineyard! I want to use it to raise my carrots, peas, potatoes, spinach, and green beans. I’ll pay you top dollar for it! And I’ll even give you a better vineyard. You have nothing to lose! So much to gain!”

139 Except the land of his forefathers. So even though the offer was extremely sweet and outrageously generous, Naboth refuses his majesty! “The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” King Ahab is chagrined. Peeved. Irked. He goes home and pouts. However, even as he sulks on his bed he won’t let a private citizen keep his ancestral vineyard. He will deprive Naboth of his inalienable right to keep his land. He will let wifey queen cohort in crime Jezebel steal it by the most unscrupulous of maneuvers! First she taunts him. “Honey, is this how you act as king over Israel? Do I have to do everything? I guess so! We know who wears the pants in this arranged marriage don’t we? I’ll get the vineyard for you!” Very quick witted! In a matter of moments she puts a plan into place. Foolproof! Brilliant! She puts out a royal proclamation from his majesty King Ahab. With his own seal! Declares a fast! For an entire day! Everyone has to go without food! Gather all the people! The nobles and elders too! Court will be in session! For a very serious matter has come to the king’s attention! And everyone should know about it! There are witnesses to this capital crime! And the perpetrator must be punished! The charge? Oh, yes, the charge! Blasphemy and treason! Citizen Naboth has cursed God! And He has cursed his majesty Ahab! Got to get rid of the sinner Naboth! Otherwise God’s judgment would be unleashed on the whole country. So let us all humble ourselves with our day of fasting! And let us put notorious Naboth and his boys to death! We’ll show God that we don’t tolerate such sinning here! And God will be most pleased with us! So gather all the rocks you can everyone -- the size of tennis balls, volleyballs, and basketballs outside the city gate! It will be death! Death by stoning! As soon as Jezebel received word that the grisly affair was over, she drew up the proper paperwork, contacted the appropriate attorneys and sent his majesty to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard. “Now be a good little boy Ahab! Naboth’s dead. And so are his heirs (2 Kings 9:26). The vineyard’s all yours! It reverts back to you! Aren’t I brilliant? I sometime surprise myself with my genius!” And humanly speaking who would object? After all, you can’t go around cursing God and the king! That’s just not right. So go ahead your majesty! Confiscate the vineyard! Naboth and his boys got what they deserved. Except that the testimony was completely false. The witnesses were liars. Paid off. Bribed. Just so that Ahab could get what he wanted! But this horrific crime did not go unpunished. The LORD dealt with the king through Elijah the prophet. Elijah had a Word from the Lord. And it was this: DOOM! Doom of extinction on the royal husband and wife for the unparalleled wickedness! Right as Ahab was taking possession of the stolen vineyard Pastor Elijah showed up with a sermon in his mouth. And the sermon was this: “This is what the LORD says: ‘Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?’ … ‘In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood – yes yours!’” (1 Kings 21:19) This story serves as an example and warning to all of us! God is serious when he forbids stealing! From petty to grand! Any kind of stealing displeases the Lord. Seriously! This is no joke! What have you stolen? You worked 30 hours but got paid for 40! The cashier mistakenly gave you $10.00 in change when you only should have received $5.00. And

140 you kept the extra $5.00! You promised to do a job using topnotch materials. But instead you installed shoddy, worthless stuff. You failed to report your proper income to the IRS. And then the biggest theft of all! And the most common! You even try to steal divinity for yourself! Yes, that’s right. Divinity doesn’t belong to you! Yet you want it for yourself. As if you own it! You act like you’re God Almighty Himself! “I shall be as God” is your mantra. Your M O! Dethrone the one true God and replace Him with yourself! Even if that means taking the God-man in the flesh Jesus and killing Him! To take what we want as our own -- deity! Oh, the Idolatry! You, me, Ahab, Jezebel – the sin is equally shared by all of us! We’re all guilty as sin! And it’s all sin that needs to be repented of! Before it’s too late. Hellaciuosly too late! So it’s time to repent and believe. To turn away from your sin! Die to it! And turn to Jesus “who being in very nature God did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but MADE HIMSELF NOTHING, TAKING ON THE VERY NATURE OF A SERVANT, BEING MADE IN HUMAN LIKENESS. And being found in appearance as a man he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!”(Philippians 2:6-8) Death on the cross as THE SIN-BEARER! The bearer of your sin! Every last bit of it! Dead-on-the-Cross Jesus is the only sacrifice that turns away God’s wrath from you as a sinner! On that Good Friday He, and He alone, endured God’s eternal wrath that you deserved because of your sin. “He who knew no sin was made to be sin” – FOR YOU! On the cross Jesus took and absorbed all your sin in His Body! He endured all its punishment: death and damnation! His blood, His divine blood, spilled and shed on the cross purifies you from all sin! Forgiven and redeemed by His death, Jesus gives you back your humanity! He has good use for you. You are now His instruments in this world for good. The good of your neighbor. Helping folks to improve and protect their possessions and income! In the name of Jesus. Wednesday of Lent 3 Sixth Commandment: You Shall Not Commit Adultery Bible Narrative: Genesis 39 Joseph. Coat of many colors Joseph. Favored by his father Jacob. Who had dreams about the future with his brothers bowing down to him Joseph. Who, without regard for the consequences, naively shared the dreams’ content with his family Joseph. Envied and despised by his brothers Joseph. Hated him so much they wanted to kill him Joseph. Instead, they serendipitously sell him to Ishmaelite traders. Eventually, insufferable Joseph ends up in Egypt. Sold into Egyptian slavery. Slavery! Bought by captain of the guard Potiphar. Can you imagine? The heartache? The pain? The despair? Forcibly betrayed! Devastatingly separated from father Jacob and from the God of his fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! And yet there is the current refrain no matter what happened to Joseph. No matter what the circumstances: “The LORD was with Joseph.” (Genesis 39:3, 21, 23, Acts 7:9) Not just in Canaan. The LORD crosses the border! Joseph is not alone. The LORD is

141 with him even in this foreign land of pagans and idol worshipers! Even in his darkest hours. The LORD’s gracious presence garners results. “The LORD gave him [Joseph] success in everything he did.” Joseph’s master notices this. Consequently, Potiphar gives Joseph control of his entire estate! “Joseph you’re in charge of everything! It’s all in your hands! I trust you! You’re like a son to me!” Potiphar has nothing to worry about with Joseph in charge. Then Moses adds quite a line in this history. One that might surprise you. One that you might have missed. “Now Joseph was well built and handsome.” You fill in the blanks. Six pack abs. Perfect pecs. Broad shoulders. Chiseled physique. Sandy blonde hair. Big blue eyes. A-list bod and heart-throb Joseph hasn’t escaped Potiphar’s wife’s eyes! She’s taken notice. Pronto! She’s scoped him out! Did I mention that this is Potiphar’s wife? Oh, yes, I did, didn’t I? Joseph will soon learn the meaning of the phrase: Real Housewives of the Egyptian Nile! She’s a cougar on the prowl! We aren’t told her name so let’s call her Victoria or Vicki for short. In America Vicki could have her own prime time reality TV show on TV Land! Do a couple of slutty one-night stand cameos on How I Met Your Mother and Three and A Half Men! Get a gig on Dancing with the Stars! Go on the interview circuit with Matt Lauer, Bill O’Reilly, and Barbara Walters! Make millions writing steamy tell-all books! And then receive a number of one-on-one party invitations from Ashton Kutcher and Charlie Sheen! Why? Because she loves to sleep around! Especially with hot, Brad Pitt or Matthew McConaughey types! “And after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’” “Come to bed with me. I’ll show you a good time!” The more things change the more they stay the same. Did I mention that Vicki’s married? Oh, yes, I did, didn’t I? Vicki is wife to Potiphar! Fear, love, and trust in God above all things? Not even on her radar screen! Remain faithful to her husband? Totally irrelevant! Leading a sexually pure and decent life? Downright laughable! Honor and love only her husband? How incredibly Victorian! So prudish! So 1950s-ish! So Ozzie and Harriet! So Leave It To Beaver! Even in ancient Egypt! The woman has needs. And she wants to fulfill them. Not with her husband! But with the new young hunk, Joseph! If any of you ladies (young or middle aged) need the worst kind of role model for the modern or post-modern liberated woman – here you have it! Joseph could pull an Ashton Kutcher and no one would know! It could be a onenight stand or an extended relationship. And who would even care? Everyone does it! Everyone hooks up! What one does in the privacy of one’s own bedroom is nobody else’s business anyway! It would be his and Victoria’s secret! So what if Potiphar finds out? He’ll get over it! So she applies her sultry Egyptian Mary Kay makeup. Straps on her crocodile high heels. Slips into her sexiest see through Nile Cotton nightgown. Saddles right up to Joseph in her most seductive Walk Like An Egyptian moves. Puts on her bedroom eyes. Twirls her fingers through his curly hair. Blows into his ear and whispers: “Come to bed

142 with me.” What an enticing temptation! What a thrill! What an amazingly opportunity for a young male slave! And what does well-built and handsome slave boy Joseph do? Are you ready for this? You won’t believe it! The text says: “BUT HE REFUSED!” REFUSED HER I TELL YOU! No adultery for Joseph! Ever! He will not adulterate holy marriage in any way! “Here’s the deal Vicki! I’ve got a secret for you! With me in charge,” he says, “my master does not have to worry about a thing. He trusts me. I suppose I could do anything I wanted. I suppose I could have you. But I won’t. So here’s the 411! You’re a married woman! I will not commit adultery with you!” Cougars usually don’t take No for an answer. Vicki tries to wear Joseph down. Men are weak! They’re all matrixed a certain way. There’s always one thing on their mind. So day after day she offers herself to him! And day after day Joseph refused. He even looked for ways to avoid her. After all, to commit adultery – to have sexual relations with a woman you’re not married to – is a “wicked thing and [a] sin against God.” Joseph has learned from God’s Word that a sexual relationship is a gift from God. However, he also knew and believed that sexual activities in the bedroom are to be used properly – in the way that God intends it. Now I hope you’re not rolling your eyes and turning the preacher off right now. Why? Well, because Joseph offers you and I a wonderful God-pleasing example to follow. To fear, love and trust in God even in our sexuality. A man and a woman are supposed to have a sexual relationship. That’s God’s intent. A one-flesh union. To be fruitful and multiply. But only after they are married. Marriage first. Then the honeymoon! The way it was from the beginning. In Genesis when God brought Eve to Adam and married them. Adam and Eve were both naked together and they were not ashamed. Why? Because they were married! Because they were husband and wife! Here we all have loads to repent of! And it’s time we had a serious talk. But I fear that some of us, including myself, do not want to talk. Don’t want to hear God’s Word on this matter. We would rather ignore the Sixth Commandment and God’s will for our life on this matter. We would rather sin against God and continue to live wicked lives on purpose! After all, everyone else does it. And it’s legal! I’m afraid we talk like this: “Joseph did what he did. That was his choice. That’s fine for him! But don’t expect me to be like Joseph! It’s my life and no one can tell me how to live it.” But God has! And it is clear. The Sixth Commandment. Addressed specifically to each one of us: “YOU shall not commit adultery.” Now you can shift the blame or spin it this way: “Pastor Kuhlman is such an SOB!” Or “Mom and Dad don’t approve but they’ve gotten used to it.” Or, “I’ve been married before! It was such a disaster – so painful -- that I promised myself that I’d never marry again!” But the facts are the facts. Sin against God is sin against God. Instead of holy living, I fear that we entrench ourselves in the most wicked of all living. To disregard God’s Word here on this is very dangerous. Eternal life or death dangerous! When any sin is held outside of forgiveness, then there isn’t any forgiveness for any other sins. Forgiveness comes entire or not at all! No fractions! Would you purposely hold on to your sin? Would you dare to take back your sin from Jesus and say:

143 “I’ll keep them thank you! I’ll deal with them!” If that’s the way you want it, then sadly, you will! Impenitence will end hellaciously! So tonight it is time to repent. Time to hear God’s Word and to confess our sin that adulterates marriage in any way. Time to repent of how we have failed in whatever way to lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do. Why? Because Jesus has come for sinners. All sinners. He was always going after Sixth Commandment sinners. In order to … forgive them! In order to purify and cleanse Sixth Commandment sinners with His holy word of absolution! Jesus is the friend of sinners! He does not avoid you. He wants to be seen with you as His forgiven brother or sister. He willingly and completely obeys the Sixth Commandment for the entire world – for you – and every sinner! His perfect obedience annuls our disobedience. Jesus flawlessly does what God expects in the Sixth Commandment. And He does it for you! What He did counts for you! At the same time, Jesus does not shrink from taking all your sin and dying for it on the cross! He eagerly and categorically announces: “I’ve got your sin! It’s mine. I died with it all soaked up in My body! I buried it in the black hole of my tomb! I forgive you! Entirely and completely!” The Lord’s forgiveness for all your sin is the forgiveness that counts. So that you can begin to fear, love and trust in Him above all things. So that you begin to fear and love in Him in order to lead a sexually pure and decent life in what you say and do, and husband and wife love and honor each other. Faith in Jesus the Sin-Bearer, the Sin-Forgiver. Love for those in your life. In the name of Jesus. Wednesday of Lent 4 Fifth Commandment: You Shall Not Murder Bible Narrative: Genesis 4:1-16 Anatomy of a murder. You’re minding your own business and then all of a sudden … News alert! It’s scrolls along the bottom of the TV screen. Before you can read it brunette bombshell anchor Mona Cohen interrupts regular programming: “This just in to Paradise Lost Network! We have received disturbing news! It comes from one of the western farm fields. We’re hearing unconfirmed reports that one of Adam’s sons was found dead a short while ago. Let’s go live to our ace on the spot reporter Biff Bernstein. He’s there with the latest. Biff, can you confirm what we’re hearing?” “Mona, yes the dead body has in fact now been identified by officials as Abel. Mona, this is a grisly scene. I’ve never seen anything like this! It’s sickening! I can’t believe this has happened! This is no accident! It is criminal! Abel’s head has been crushed in! It is the goriest and most gruesome incident I’ve ever covered… [Biff gags]. As you can tell Mona, I’ve lost it. Who could have done this? Who could have done this Mona? Back to you.” “Thanks Biff. For those who have just joined us, we have confirmed that Abel, the younger twin brother of Cain, has been found dead from substantial blows to the head. It is a gruesome criminal scene. A massive manhunt has now begun for the world’s first ever killer. More breaking news as it happens.”

144 While you’re still in shock – still in dismay – another breaking news alert from Mona Cohen of Paradise Lost Network! “This just in! More dreadful news! Authorities have confirmed that Abel’s killer has been apprehended! The killer is … are you ready for this ladies and gentlemen? … Abel’s older twin brother Cain!” Double tragedy! Double punch to the gut! Not just the world’s first murder! Not just a homicide -- BUT FRATRICIDE! Abel, viciously slaughtered by his very own brother! The very brother we all believed to be the ONE! The ONE to bring back the paradise Adam and Eve lost by their rebellion. The ONE to put an end to all the pain and agony that Satan brought into the world by our parents’ sin. Cain! Cain! Cain! Cain’s no messiah! Far from it! We were all foolishly mistaken on that one! We just all assumed! Cain had us all fooled. Both boys went to church. Both heard sermon after sermon. Both offered their sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise. All the neighbors said Cain was a quiet boy. A good neighbor. Always on time. Reliable. A hard worker. What went wrong? Why would he do such a heinous deed? Then another news flash! “Mona Cohen here again with more breaking news. We have been told that Cain was a very angry young man. He had a very, very dark side. Hated his brother Abel! Had something to do with their offerings at church. His intense anger appears to have begun when the LORD favored Abel’s offerings but not Cain’s. Here to give us some perspective on why all this happened is Doctor Ruth Bernbaum. Dr. Bernbaum, what triggered all of Cain’s anger and the savage attack of his brother? Why couldn’t Cain master the sin that was crouching at his door?” “Well, Mona, it could be a number of factors. One, perhaps God likes ranchers more than farmers. Another explanation may be the way Eve potty-trained these boys in combination with Adam’s laissez-faire attitude. That probably didn’t go so well. One more factor could be that Cain skimped with his offerings. Maybe the grain he offered wasn’t the best or possibly he only offered chaff instead of wheat. Or, and this is the most likely explanation, you did this to him! The pressure was too much for him! All the messianic expectations you all put on him led him to this!” And with that you shut off your TV. You’ve had enough of this rubbish! There’s got to be some other explanation! Well, there is. I’ll tell you. It’s called sin. Both brothers were sinners. But the difference between the two was spelled: F-A-I-T-H! Cain doesn’t believe that he is a sinner. He’s full of himself! Firstborn and all that! Cain doesn’t fight against his anger and hatred. Cain, therefore, doesn’t believe in God’s promise to send the Savior. Cain refused to believe the sermons that the LORD is gracious and merciful. Cain does not and would not repent! No wonder the LORD DID NOT look with favor on Cain’s offering. No wonder the LORD DID LOOK WITH FAVOR ON ABEL’S! If you doubt any of this Hebrews 11:4 clearly explains the discrepancy between the two brothers. Listen. “By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he [Abel] was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.” Again, the difference between the two brothers was FAITH!

145 Cain’s unbelief, his impenitence, fed his hatred. Hated his brother. Hated God! He did not fear, love, or trust in the LORD. His heart was at odds with the LORD. Therefore, his heart was also at odds with his brother. “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer” (1 John 3:15; Matthew 5:21-22)! So Cain did what was in his heart. He lured Abel into the field with a hypocritical act of brotherly love. When Abel turned his back Cain bashed in the rear of his brother’s head! Calculated, cold-blooded murder! Colossal carnage! When Adam sinned the ground was cursed (Genesis 3:17). Now here Cain, for the spilling of Abel’s blood, for just standing there and letting Abel bleed out, is directly cursed! He has desecrated the ground with a murderous blood bath! Cain refused to be his brother’s keeper! So the earth opened up its mouth to receive Abel’s blood from Cain’s hand. Cain can only be a restless wanderer now because the earth will refuse to bear any crops for him! He can till and till and till – plant, plant and plant – BUT THE EARTH WILL GIVE HIM NOTHING! For Abel’s “blood cries out to the LORD from the ground!” In addition, Cain must live the rest of his life with eyes in the back of his head. He won’t be able to sleep very well at night. After all, everyone is outraged! It is highly probable that someone will try to avenge Abel’s murder! Therefore the LORD puts a mark on Cain to show that he’s off limits to a human executioner – an avenger of blood! Life in any stage is a gift from the LORD. The LORD wants your neighbor’s life protected. Always! Thus the Fifth Commandment! The LORD forbids the taking of life in any way. From abortion to euthanasia! From shooting someone in cold blood to slitting someone’s throat or putting poison in their food! The LORD forbids the taking of your own life too. Judas did that, you remember, when he despaired of the LORD’s forgiveness. You shall not murder! That’s God’s categorical personal address to you! No “ifs,” “ands” or “buts!” Do not hurt or bring harm to your neighbor in any way! Instead help and support him/her in EVERY physical need. And we have failed! Our tongues are instruments of death! We ruin reputations! We destroy lives with our angry words and hate-filled discrimination. We sit quietly and do nothing when our neighbor needs help. We care about ourselves first. Our needs. Our wants. Our desires. Our hopes. We stand by and do nothing as our neighbor drinks himself to death, starves herself to death, forces his child to live in a cage like an animal, or as 1.2 million of unborn innocent lives are cruelly destroyed each year in this country. “Am I my brother’s / sister’s keeper?” we ask! With that question we incriminate ourselves just like Cain! So it is time to repent! It is time to “love one another” and “not be like Cain who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother,” (1 John 3:11-12) It is time to give up something during this Lent and all of our lives! And what is that? Your sin! Time to confess your sin. All sin against God’s will to protect and preserve life. Life that He alone gives. Abel’s murdered blood cried out to the LORD for revenge! But the Blood of Jesus – that’s different! A whole different ball game! His Blood speaks and proclaims just the opposite: FORGIVENESS! For sinners! For you. For me. “Father, forgive them – they don’t know what in the world they’re doing!” Exactly! We sure didn’t! We falsely believed that we were doing God a favor! That everything would be so much better if we would get rid of Blasphemer Jesus! He

146 can’t be God! We are! (At least we pretend to be!) So we too shouted: “Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Be rid of Him! We’re in charge here! His Blood be on us and our children!” We “killed the author of life” (Acts 3:15)! “Father, forgive them!” Yes, Jesus’ Good Friday, Lamb of God, Mount Calvary Blood for your forgiveness pleads! His sacrificial Blood shed on the cross atones for all your sin! For His life – His divine life is given in, with and under His Blood! Bloodied – sacrificed on the cross Jesus – sprinkles His Blood on you! That Blood speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. Abel’s blood cried out for revenge! The shed Blood of Jesus proclaims FORGIVENESS! “But the blood of Jesus for our pardon cries!” (Hymn #433 LSB stanza 4). So here’s the truth! You, the sinner, are redeemed! You, the sinner, are sanctified! For the Blood of Jesus is on you and your children. In a saving way: FORGIVENESS! You, like the murderer Barabbas are set free! Jesus, the Holy One, willingly gives His life and allows His divine Blood to be shed! Your sin is His! His holiness is yours! The Blood of Jesus purifies you from all sin! It is His Good Friday Blood that He puts into your mouths in the Sacrament for your cleansing. For your purification! For the forgiveness of all your sin. In the Lord’s Supper the Blood of Jesus speaks! It says: “given and shed FOR YOU! FOR YOU AND FOR YOUR SALVATION!” Faith trusts this Word from the Good Friday Jesus! Now He has good use for you in this world as His instrument. He now uses your body in this life to help and support your neighbor in his/her body! And that is quite a sacrifice or offering of thanksgiving and praise in response for all that Jesus’ Blood has given you! In the Name of Jesus Wednesday of Lent 5 Fourth Commandment: Honor Your Father and Your Mother Bible Narrative: 2 Samuel 15-18 Absalom’s rebellion Honor your father and mother. Honor them. Fear and love God so that you do not anger or despise Dad, Mom or other authorities. Honor them. Serve and obey them. Love and cherish them. After all, parents and those in authority are God’s masks. God’s servants! His representatives! For you and for your advantage in this world! God is present – hidden at work – in and through them! God rolls up His sleeves! He is active in the world through them. You remember what Jesus Himself said: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s,” (Matthew 22:21). Twelve-year-old God in the flesh Jesus, after being found in the Jerusalem temple, “went down to Nazareth with them [Mary and Joseph] and was obedient to them,” (Luke 2:51). And then thirty-three-year-old Jesus, although completely innocent, suffered at the hands of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate – who then unjustly handed Him over to be crucified! The blessed apostle Paul puts it this way: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities … The authorities that exist have been established by God … He is God’s servant to do you good,” (Romans 13:1, 4). So too the blessed apostle Peter: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men,” (1 Peter 2:13). All this flows from the Fourth Commandment – especially with the word: “Honor!” You are to honor parents – you are to honor authorities because of the hidden

147 majesty behind them: God Himself! Remember, God uses them as His instruments – for your good! But there is a young man: Absalom. King David’s son. Fabio before there was Fabio! Absalom was an Adonis! His body, face, and hair were the talk of the ancient world! “In all Israel there was not a man so highly praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the top of his head to the sole of his foot there was no blemish on him. Whenever he cut the hair of his head – he used to cut his hair from time to time when it became too heavy for him – he would weigh it, and its weight was about 5 pounds by the royal standard,” (2 Samuel 14:25-26). The hunk of all hunks! In the ancient world such a unique man would often make divine claims about himself! And Absalom sure acts that way. He is so full of himself. So curved in on himself! He plays by different rules. His own! He is his own authority! He takes judicial and criminal matters into his own hands! He put out a hit on his brother Amnon who raped his sister Tamar (2 Samuel 13:1-29). He does what no man, including the king himself, ever did in the history of Israel because it was strictly forbidden! (Deuteronomy 17:16) He obtains for himself a chariot and horses as well as an entourage of 50 bodyguards to always run ahead of him (2 Samuel 15:1). Without any legitimate authority, he sets himself up as a judge to hear court cases among people who feel they are getting the shaft by the legitimate authorities (2 Samuel 15:2-6). Absalom purposely does this to UNDERMINE HIS FATHER’S AUTHORITY! He does it to win hearts and followers for himself! “Honor your father and your mother”? That is not even on Absalom’s radar screen! That Fourth Commandment, let alone any of God’s words, doesn’t even register. He is deaf to the Word of God! He does not fear, love and trust in God above all things. Then Absalom does it! No more pretense! He crosses the Rubicon! Civil war! Insurrection! Rebellion! Against his father and king – David! He proclaims himself as king of Israel in Hebron! Amasses troops from all of Israel! Marches on Jerusalem! With the help of King David’s best and most trusted advisor and strategist now turned traitor: Bathsheba’s grandfather – Ahithophel (2 Samuel 15:10-12)! King David and his petite army of loyalists have to flee the capital. Quickly they cross the Kidron Valley and high tail it eastward to hide in the desert! The king is diabolically betrayed. Totally humiliated. A price on his head! “KING DAVID – WANTED DEAD! NOT ALIVE!” Absalom occupies Jerusalem. In broad daylight for every man, woman and child to see with their own eyes, Absalom makes love to David’s ten remaining concubines (2 Samuel 16:22)! In the ancient world, such an act was Absalom’s way of saying publically that he’s in total command! That he alone is king, not David! In addition, such a tawdry and crude act sealed Absalom’s irrevocable mutiny against his father and king! His total rejection of the Fourth Commandment’s injunction to honor his father and king! Then, as David flees for his life into forced exile, a distant relative of deposed and dead King Saul named Shimei gets right in David’s face! He curses David! Throws rocks at David! Showers David with dirt! Incredibly, David lets it be. He passively suffers it (2 Samuel 16:5-14)! Just as he suffers his son’s rebellious, insurgent civil war! In fact, David explicitly orders his men not to harm his son: “Be gentle with the young man Absalom for my sake,” (2 Samuel 18:5).

148 The decisive battle takes place in the forest of Ephraim (2 Samuel 18:6). There, David’s army goes on the offensive. Although his troops are completely outnumbered, Absalom’s forces are defeated. 20,000 casualties! Then, while frantically riding his mule in the massive confusion of the woodland battle, Absalom -- Adonis Absalom, GQ Absalom, Arrogant Absalom, Almighty Absalom – falls into the hands of David’s men! His gorgeous hair gets tangled and caught in the thick branches of a huge oak tree! He’s helpless! Hanging by his hair in midair as his mule keeps on going! General Joab disobeys David’s explicit orders! He launches three javelins into Absalom’s body. Then more soldiers, ten in fact, surround his mortally wounded body and finish him off! How tragic! How ironically tragic! The self-serving revolt is over. Absalom is graveyard dead! All this serves as a warning to all of us! It shows us how serious God is regarding the Fourth Commandment! We are to honor our parents and authorities! We should fear His wrath and not doing anything against any of His commandments! Pulling an Absalom in any way, shape or form is not God-pleasing! But we do it all the time! And we could care less! We anger our parents. We despise them when they won’t let us do whatever we want. We only obey them only in order to get something we want. We do not honor anyone in authority! Seriously, we don’t! We are anti-authority in every way! We mock our teachers who expect us to learn. We incessantly ridicule our leaders who do their best to serve the country, state, or community. We even despise our pastors. And why is that? Because they – (are you ready for this?) -- they humbly expect us to hold God’s Word sacred, hear it gladly, and come to the divine service willingly! How horrible! Isn’t it? But that’s not the worst of it! On top of it all, they have the audacity to beg us – beg us -- to repent! Repent? Now that takes the cake! Isn’t that just the worst? It’s criminal, isn’t it? Then we tell everyone who will listen just how awful the pastor is! And none of this rebellion against every authority from parental to spiritual to civic bothers us at all! Not one bit! Not one bit! Living like there could never be any negative consequences for such sinning! And we have the gall to rag on Absalom and falsely believe that we’re any better! So what is there left to do? Do I dare say it? I might as well. After all, what could happen? Well, all heaven could break loose among us! So here goes! It’s time to … repent. Time to admit our sin. Tell the truth about ourselves. Stop all the self-justifying and the blaming of others. And trust King Jesus! King of kings Jesus! All authority in heaven and on earth Jesus! Who, instead of fleeing from Jerusalem – resolutely heads to the capital as King AND STAYS PUT! To do battle! Against the evil powers of sin, death and Satan! There, just outside of Jerusalem, across the Kidron Valley on the Mount of Olives, Judas betrays King Jesus into the hands of sinners! Abandoned, denied, and disowned! Arrested! Jailed! Beaten beyond recognition! Cursed! Insults hurled in His face! Mocked with a crown of thorns and a purple robe! Finally, unjustly and unfairly sentenced to death as if He were the worst criminal in the Roman Empire!

149 He willingly suffered it all! “Put your sword away Peter! There will be none of that! Let it all be! I’m not here to lead a rebellion!” Then, as He hung, pinned to a Tree, caught and suspended between heaven and earth, His enemies come upon Him. Sin, death, and Satan are delighted to have found Him in such weakness! Such helplessness! They then have their way with the King of kings! They throw themselves at Him with all that they have! These three powers – like three javelins – propelled into Jesus’ corpus with all their might! What does hanging in a tree Descendant-of-David-King-Jesus do? He lets it all be! In fact, He prays for all of us who rebelled against His Lordship: “Father, forgive them.” “Forgive them Father I beg You! Let no harm come to them! Don’t let any evil or the Evil One harm them! Let not their sin damn them! Instead, let their sin damn Me! I will suffer it! I willingly take into Myself the guilt of their rebellion against You Father! I will die for their sake Father! For their salvation sake! Forgive them Father! Don’t hold any of their sin against them. I beg You! For my sake!” Then He dies! The only true God King on the earth dies! The salvation job accomplished. For you and for the world! King the most! Savior the most! When He’s hanging dead from the Tree – graveyard dead – gruesomely tangled in its branches! He died this way for you! From the Tree and from His Blood that stained it He exercises His authority over you. He lords His death over you with the promise that your sin is forgiven! He has the wounds and scars to prove it! In addition, He gives you His Body and Blood in the Sacrament to confirm it! He gave you His Name in Holy Baptism to substantiate it! His royal prayer from the Tree for your forgiveness has been answered! You are forgiven! Jesus has the kingly authority to say so! His absolution bestows and gives what it says! His regal forgiveness gives you your life back. A life that now rejoices and gives thanks for your parents and other authorities that He’s put into your life. A redeemed life in order to honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them. In addition, His kingly absolution gives you even more: salvation! His heavenly reign breaking wide open in your life now and forever! So go in peace! In the Name of Jesus. Maundy Thursday Third Commandment: Remember the Sabbath Day by Keeping It Holy Bible Narrative: Mark 14:12-26 God made the Sabbath Day holy. That’s a given. That’s Genesis 2! And yet the Commandment: Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy! What’s up with that? Here’s the deal! “God wants it to be holy for you.” The Sabbath Day is holy in itself but in the Third Commandment God wants it to be holy FOR YOU! Incredible! How then is the Sabbath Day kept holy FOR YOU? The answer is this: “when … [you] make use of God’s Word and exercise … [yourselves] in it.” The Sabbath is about you being all ears! Being all ears to God’s Word! I.E. it is about hearing God’s Word! For in, with, and under His Word God talks. God speaks. God speaks to you through Jesus the Word made flesh! And He speaks to you through His written Word –

150 the Bible. The Bible, as God’s Word is to be preached, taught, and pondered! God’s Word is to be HEARD WITH YOUR EARS! It is to be heard because God’s Word is a living, dynamic, vigorous, energetic, efficacious Holy Spirit-filled act of speech! God’s Word is vibrant and all creative. “Let there be light!” “Be fruitful and multiply!” “Lazarus, come out!” “I baptize you in the Name …” The Lord’s Word proclaimed does exactly what it says. It gives precisely what it commands. The Lord does and gives what His Word says! I have to go on extolling! There’s even more! Where the Lord’s Word is going on – being mouthed – preached – proclaimed, the Holy Spirit is going on! I.E. where the divine Word -- there the Holy Spirit bestows and grants divine holiness – sanctifies! Hallows! Did you hear that? God’s Word hallows! God’s Word holies! God’s Word sanctifies! All because His Word is most holy! The Word bestows and gives the very holiness of the Triune God Himself! TO YOU! AND FOR YOU! Through your ears! Any day from the New Testament on, in which God’s Word is preached, taught, proclaimed is a holy day – a Sabbath Day for you! For in that Word God is speaking to you! In and through that Word the Lord deals with you! And by His Word He hallows, holies, and sanctifies you the sinner. The Third Commandment is about being occupied with God’s Word! Hearing the preaching! Holding it sacred! Gladly hearing and learning it! Not blowing it off! Or treating it as a nothing! Tonight you are given to hear! The Lord Jesus! He does a Passover like none ever before! He speaks words that were never ever spoken or heard at any Passover meal in the history of Israel! On the very day on which it was “customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb,” the Lamb is provided. The Lamb is there! The Lamb is the Lord Jesus Himself! He is THE Lamb of God! The Lord provides! The perfect and without blemish Lamb! The divine Lamb – the only One that takes away the sin of the world – that atones for all sin and for every sinner! And Passover Lamb Jesus will be sacrificed. That’s tomorrow. Good Friday. This evening is the night on which He is betrayed. Judas! Hands the Lamb over to sinners. To be bound! To be crucified on the altar of the cross! “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me – one who is eating with me … It is one of the Twelve … one who dips bread into the bowl with me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him.” It is according to the Word! The Word – the prophecies – are doing what they promised! What they predicted! “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me,” (Psalm 41:9)! The divine Word from that Psalm is doing what it says. Giving what it says! To the Word made flesh Jesus – on the night in which He was betrayed! In the midst of this Passover meal Jesus takes bread. He gives thanks and breaks it. He takes a cup. He gives thanks for it. Then, as He hands out the bread and the wine to His disciple there are more words! LORD Jesus speaks! From His mouth! “Take this bread. It is my body.” “This [cup of wine] is my blood of the new covenant which is poured out for many.” What? Is He serious? Yes, deadly serious! Has He lost His mind? No. He is of very sound mind! The Lord says what He says. Means what He says. Does what He says! Gives what He says. THIS IS HIS LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT.

151 This is what He bequeaths! This is the inheritance! The gifts! The bread IS His Body! The wine IS His Blood! It is His Body born of the Virgin! He doesn’t have another one! It is His Blood that flows in His arteries! He doesn’t have any other kind of Blood! Both are to be received with your mouth! Eaten. Drunk. With His words Jesus makes a covenant! Or a promise! “This is my blood of the new covenant.” This is the language of Exodus 24:6-8! Moses took the blood of the animal sacrifices and sprinkled it on the Israelites and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you …” Here, on the night He was betrayed, the LORD – the LORD Jesus takes the cup of wine and declares: “This is my blood of the new covenant.” Not the blood of animals! BUT “MY BLOOD!” BUT THE BLOOD OF THE GOD-MAN HIMSELF! With these words Jesus suffers Himself to die! As THE ONE AND ONLY SACRIFICE FOR SIN! THAT IS WHAT IS “NEW” HERE! His Blood is divine Blood that purifies from all sin! Divine Blood for cleansing! Divine Blood for forgiveness and salvation! The Blood of God Himself in the very Body in that man Jesus that is given into death on the cross once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin! With the bread He gives His Body to eat. With the wine He gives His Blood to drink. “This is my blood of the new covenant which is poured out for many!” FOR MANY – AND FOR YOU! HE IS GOD THE LORD FOR YOU! IN THIS WAY. THE SACRAMENT OF THE ALTAR WAY! In the Sacrament tonight Jesus holies you, hallows you, sanctifies you! His most holy Word hooked together with the bread and wine bestows what He promises. Jesus Himself speaks to you tonight. Into your ears go His Words! Into your mouths goes what His Words say! “Take this bread. Eat it. It is my Body. Drink the cup. It is my Blood. It is the new covenant in which I prove that I am God for you!” It is a Holy Communion! He comes. He gathers. He speaks. He takes your sin! He clothes you with His holiness! It is holiness -- His – for you! And with His Words that you hear tonight at the Sacrament you have forgiveness – the forgiveness He won for you at Calvary! With His Good Friday forgiveness bestowed with His Words “given and shed for you,” you also are given life and salvation! Jesus is the LORD. He is LORD God for you! And you are His holy, hallowed, sanctified people! All bestowed with His Words! Happy hearing! Happy eating and drinking according to His Words! In the Name of Jesus. Good Friday Second Commandment: You shall not misuse the Name of the Lord Your God Bible Narrative: Luke 23:46 Jesus: bitterly betrayed. Judas and we use our mouth to cut that dastardly deal for some cash! Jesus: disappointingly denied. Peter and we use our mouth to curse and swear in order to lie! “I swear to God I don’t know this Jesus! I’ll be damned if I’m one of His followers!” Jesus: appallingly abandoned. By the rest of His disciples and all the rest of us! “Let’s high tail it out of here! We could be arrested too! We can’t be seen with Him anymore! It’s just too risky!” With friends like that who needs … … … enemies?

152 Well, they show up too! In spades! Hurling insults! Mocking! Sneering! “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.” “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” (Luke 23:35-39) All these are huge satanic temptations! “Think about yourself for a change Jesus! Good grief! Go ahead! Hop off the cross! You don’t deserve this! You don’t need to suffer like this! Show these people that you really are the Christ! That you truly are who you say you are! Save yourself!” His enemies desperately looked for a way to lay their hands on Him Luke (20:19; 22:53)! Jesus predicted that He would be given over / betrayed / handed over to the “hands” of sinful men (Luke 9:44; cf. 24:7)! Well, their hands, our hands, get what we all want! Judas’ treason! Hands over Jesus to His enemies! He is given into the hands of sinful men! Our hands. Clenched. Tightened. Opened. Shaken. Too many to count! With their hands, with our hands, we all slap, beat, pummel, flog, and pierce Him and pin Him with hammer and spikes! In the midst of His enemies, the evil powers of death, Satan, and sin and horrific suffering – in the midst of bearing the sin of the world – facing death -- suffering its damnation – (and this is the finale of Luke’s passion narrative) -- Jesus PLACES HIMSELF … INTO … HIS FATHER’S … HANDS! “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Incredible trust! Faith! He Prays! Calls upon not just some generic god – but to God the Father – His Father and our Father! Calls upon Him by Name! In every trouble! He was always going off and praying to His Father during His life. “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house” (Luke 2:49)? When everything heats up and He’s in Gethsemane he prays: “Father, if you are willing take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). As He hangs on the cross between two terrorists He prays: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Now, Holy One Jesus, in the midst of utter agony and the most immense trouble – facing death and damnation as THE SINNER by bearing all sin for the sake of sinners – He prays to His Father at the placed named Skull! “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” That’s Psalm 31:5. Jesus probably prayed the entire psalm of which we are only given a snippet. This may have been the very first prayer Jesus learned as a boy. Taught to Him by Mary. It was the “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Prayer” of all Hebrew families. The prayer that flows from faith! Prayer that relies on God the Father for all help! For everything! Even at the moment of death! Jesus dies with prayer on His lips: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Even then He uses God’s name properly. He looks to His Father for all help in every need. For all consolation! For all deliverance! After all Jesus learned another prayer from the Psalter: “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me,” (Psalm 50:15)! From such a promise Jesus lives! And dies! His unwavering trust in His Father continues in the moment of His death for sinners. And for you! And for your salvation – the salvation He earned, won and accomplished in His bitter suffering and death on Good Friday. His death for you has borne fruit in your life. You are baptized into His death – the only death that counts against all your sin, death, and hell! Faith in Jesus leads to the

153 proper use of your mouth: calling upon the Father in every trouble -- praise and thanksgiving. And that’s every day. Every morning and evening. In the evening, right before you go to bed, which is a rehearsal for lying down to die, you too pray like Jesus. You pray the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep prayer of Psalm 31:5: “into your hands, Father, I commend myself, my body and soul and all things” in the sure and certain hope that because of Jesus, death doesn’t have the final word. Jesus does! He defeated death! He rose from the grave. And He will raise your body on the Last Day. More on that this Sunday! Until then, a blessed Good Friday! In the Name of Jesus. The Resurrection of Our Lord First Commandment: You shall have no other gods Bible Narratives: Mark 16:1-8 He raised the widow’s on at Nain. He raised Jairus’s daughter. In fact, Jesus brought the house down with laughter when He said: “She’s not dead – just taking a little nap!” He audaciously and categorically promised Martha: “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in m will never die,” (John 11:25). He walked to His best friend’s grave and barked out these orders to the already decomposing remains: “Lazarus, come on out!” And he did! Grave clothes and all! But all these people eventually died again. Now Jesus is dead! Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome are off to the tomb. You go to the cemetery to pay your respects to the DEAD! The Lord who preached, “I am the Resurrection and the Life” is graveyard dead! Can’t get any deader! Joseph of Arimathea wrapped up the dead body and then laid it in the tomb! The least you can do is anoint the corpse with spices. So it’s off to the grave “when the Sabbath was over” to pay their respects to the dead – the dead and buried Jesus! What’s this? Oh, my …! The tomb … is open! The large, heavy sealed tombstone has been moved! Oh no! It can’t be! But it sure looks like it! That’s the only explanation! A tomb invasion! A break in! Trespassers have violated the tomb! No doubt, they have desecrated and profaned the Lord’s body! He had many enemies! Wasn’t it enough to viciously murder Him? Can’t they leave Him alone even in death? Do we even dare to look? They do. They step in to the tomb. Someone’s there! The trespasser is still here! He’s no intruder. No desecrator of the grave! He’s a holy angel! Strange! Very strange! You don’t see angels every day. But we did see them at the Annunciation and at Jesus’ birth, after His temptation in the wilderness, and while He prayed in the Garden! Now here too! You’d be alarmed too! Angels are mighty creatures. Every time someone in the Bible sees an angel he is scared stiff! “Ladies, no need to be frightened! I won’t hurt you,” the angel proclaims. “Looking for the corpse, ladies? The body of Jesus? Jesus from Nazareth? Well, are you? You are, aren’t you? Well, then I’ve got great news for you! Get a load of this, ladies! GRAVE EMPTY! TAKE A LOOK! SEE WHERE JOSEPH LAID THE BODY! IT IS GONE! NO LONGER HERE! HERE’S WHY! JESUS THE CRUCIFIED, DEAD AND BURIED RIGHT HERE IN THIS TOMB HAS RISEN! RISEN FROM THE DEAD!”

154 This is the game changer! The salvation game changer! The cross is not emptied of its power because He rose! You are no longer in your sins because He rose! You’re faith in Him is not in vain! Why? Because He did it! Did exactly what He said He would do! In every detail! Betrayed. Condemned to death. Mocked. Spit on. Flogged. Killed. Then the clincher: AND THREE DAYS LATER HE PHYSICALLY ROSE FROM THE GRAVE (Mark 10:33-34; 8:31)! Awakened from the dead! Shed the burial clothes! Folded them up and placed them here as He left the cemetery! Never to return! Never to die again! No one else has ever done this! Muhammad didn’t! Buddha didn’t! Not Joseph Smith! Not Brigham Young! Not even Harry Potter! No one! Excluding the fictional character from Hogwarts, these dead and decayed bodies still remain in their graves! But not Jesus! I will trust Him! You can trust Jesus! He does what He says! Does what He promises! He rose! Many saw Jesus! He really did come out the grave! When St. Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians he gives evidence of this fact with witnesses. The resurrected Jesus, he writes, “appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve … he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to [His half-brother] James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born,” (1 Corinthians 15:5-7). It is true! We have witnesses! His grave is empty! Hundreds saw Him! He did what He promised! Therefore -- JESUS IS WHO HE SAYS HE IS! Who St. Mark and the centurion at the foot of the cross confess: THE SON OF GOD (Mark 1:1; 15:39)! I.E. God in the flesh! Son of God Jesus for you! “WHO DIED FOR YOUR SINS!” You’d be full of awe and fear too! In the First Commandment way, that is! Fearing, loving, and trusting in Jesus above all things! This is always what happens when Jesus does His salvation stuff in the Gospel according to St. Mark! He awed and overwhelmed folks when He taught from the Word and then cast out demons on the authority of His word (Mark 1:21-22, 27). When He calmed the storm and walked on the sea (Mark 4:41; 6:51) the disciples were “terrified,” “amazed,” and “asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!’” When Jesus absolved and healed a paralytic the citizens of Capernaum were “amazed” and “praised God” proclaiming, “We have never seen anything like this,” (Mark 2:12)! The snickers turned to absolute astonishment when Jesus raised Jairus’s dead daughter with only a command, “Talitha koum,” (Mark 5:42)! Vociferous Peter was left completely speechless – petrified into silence -- at the sight of Mount of Transfiguration Jesus (Mark 9:6)! As Jesus led the way to Jerusalem without hesitation for the last week of His life, the disciples were astonished and the others who followed were frightened (Mark 10:32)! So too here at the empty tomb! First Commandment fear and awe! With even greater intensity! It is absolutely incredible! Another miracle! He did it! He did what He said He would do! HE ROSE FROM THE DEAD! These shaking in their boots women now know what every disciple of the Risen Lord Jesus comes to know – that in Jesus the Son of God all divine power and mercy is present! For the crucified and risen Jesus is God Himself!

155 HIS RESURRECTION MEANS THAT JESUS IS GOD … FOR SINNERS! Every one of them! Including Peter – one of the worst. Denied Jesus. Wouldn’t be seen with Jesus in His greatest need! Oh, Peter! He failed so badly. He wouldn’t fear, love and trust in Jesus above all things! But Jesus died and rose for Peter! Jesus wants to tell Peter that He still loves him! Always has! That all is forgiven! Reconciled! That’s why Peter is singled out: “Go, tell his disciples and Peter. He’ll meet you in Galilee as He promised.” To show them His hands and His side! To absolve these sinners! For all of them to confess like Thomas: “My Lord, and my God” (John 20:28)! You too! In His death Jesus has redeemed you. Purchased and won you from all sins, death, and the power of the devil. He rose for you too! This is the Gospel – on which we take our stand! This is the Gospel by which you are saved: “THAT CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES, THAT HE WAS BURIED, THAT HE WAS RAISED ON THE THIRD DAY ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES!” However, the crucified and risen Jesus doesn’t meet you in Galilee! He promises to meet you in the divine service through His Word and Sacrament. To be God for you! In order to absolve you too! You, who are no better than Peter! Perhaps even worse! You too are forgiven! Jesus shed His Blood for you! That’s exactly His promise every Sunday in the Sacrament: “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins.” He is the Lord! He is Lord God for you! The only One! The First Commandment One! For now! And forever! Death does not have the last word. First Commandment God Jesus does! After all, the Crucified Jesus is the Risen Jesus! He is the Resurrection and the Life. His promise still holds true: “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in m will never die!” Have a happy Resurrection Day! In the Name of Jesus.

APPENDIX E PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE Correspondence with Robert Kolb Dear Evan, Thanks for sharing this with me. Of course, I remember you. The project is fascinating, and tomorrow I will print out your proposal and get back to you soon. I am at the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel for the summer and so have somewhat limited access to the printer, etc. I think that catechetical preaching becomes ever more important in a world in which many of our hearers have had little if any fundamental training in how to read Scripture (which is what "doctrine" really is -- well, how to read the Bible, how to read the world, how to read ourselves). So it will be fun for me to reply. And say hi to Mike from me if it is appropriate. Blessings on your ministry and on this project. Peace and joy in Christ, Bob

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WORKS CONSULTED Albrecht, Michael J. “Preaching & Catechesis.” Logia 3, no. 4 (1994): 3-50. Allen, Ronald J. Patterns of Preaching: A Sermon Sampler. St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 1998. Barna Group. “Barna Survey Examines Changes in Worldview among Christians over the Past 13 Years.” http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/21transformation/252-barna-survey-examines-changes-in-worldview-amongchristians-over-the-past-13-years (accessed February 5, 2013). Blok, Arie. “Preaching with the Heidelberg Catechism Today and Tomorrow.” Regional Synod of Canada, http://www.reformed-church.com/Pioneer/june-90a.htm (accessed February 6, 2013). Boysel, Joseph L. “And Their Eyes Were Opened: A Study in the Spiritual Formation Benefits of Weekly Word and Table Worship.” DMin Thesis, Asbury Theological Seminary, 2009. Carson, John L., and David W. Hall. To Glorify and Enjoy God: A Commemoration of the 350th Anniversary of the Westminster Assembly. Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1994. Charry, Ellen T. God and the Art of Happiness. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010. ———. Inquiring after God: Classic and Contemporary Readings. Blackwell Readings in Modern Theology. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2000. Creswell, John W. Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches. 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2009. Cwirla, William. “Kenneth F. Korby: In Memorian.” Logia 16, no. 2 (2006): 9-11. Cyril, Saint. The Catechetical Lectures of S. Cyril, Archbishop of Jerusalem, Translated, with Notes and Indices. Charleston, SC: Nabu Press, 2010. De Jong, Peter Y. “Comments on Catechetical Preaching (2).” Mid-America Journal of Theology 2, no. 2 (1986): 149-70. 157

158 DeBona, Guerric. Fulfilled in Our Hearing: History and Method of Christian Preaching. New York: Paulist Press, 2005. DeLeers, Stephen Vincent. Written Text Becomes Living Word: The Vision and Practice of Sunday Preaching. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2004. Fisk, Jonathan M. “Why the Catechism Totally Rocks.” The Lutheran Witness 132, no. 2 (2013): 12-13. Foley, Edward. Preaching Basics: A Model and a Method. Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1998. Forde, Gerhard O., Mark C. Mattes, and Steven D. Paulson. The Preached God: Proclamation in Word and Sacrament. Lutheran Quarterly Books. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007. Garrido, Ann. “The Gift of the Child: Implications of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for the Discipline of Preaching.” DMin Thesis, Aquinas Institute of Theology, 2003. Gergen, Kenneth J. “Social Construction and Practical Theology: The Dance Begins.” In Social Constructionism and Theology (Empirical Studies in Theology), edited by C. A. M. Hermans. 3-22. Boston: Brill, 2002. Gibbs, Jeffrey A. Matthew 11:2-20:34. Concordia Commentary. St. Louis. MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2010. Haemig, Mary Jane. “Preaching the Catechism: A Transformational Enterprise.” Dialog: A Journal of Theology 36, no. 2 (1997): 100-04. Halvorson, Michael James. Heinrich Heshusius and Confessional Polemic in Early Lutheran Orthodoxy. St. Andrews Studies in Reformation History. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2010. Hart, D. G. “Catechetical Preaching Solves the Church Calendar Problem.” oldlife.org, http://oldlife.org/2010/12/catechetical-preaching-solves-the-church-calendarproblem/ (accessed February 6, 2013). Herl, Joseph. “Liturgical Prescriptions in German Church Orders to 1800.” Unpublished data file. Hermans, C. A. M. Social Constructionism and Theology. Empirical Studies in Theology, 7. Boston: Brill, 2002.

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McCall, G. D. “So That Faith May Continue: A Plan to Make Preaching More Effective in Promoting Faith Formation and Spiritual Development.” DMin Thesis, Columbia Theological Seminary, 1987. Molinari, Andrea Lorenzo. Romans and Christians Ad 64: An Intergenerational Catechetical Experience of Martyrdom and Persecution in the Early Church. Translated by Tyler Walpole. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2009. Moltmann, Jürgen, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Ellen T. Charry, and Miroslav Volf. A Passion for God's Reign: Theology, Christian Learning, and the Christian Self. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998. Mulligan, Mary Alice. Believing in Preaching: What Listeners Hear in Sermons. St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 2005. Myers, William. Research in Ministry: A Primer for the Doctor of Ministry Program. Studies in Ministry and Parish Life. 3rd ed. Chicago, IL: Exploration Press, 2000. Ott, Heinrich. Theology and Preaching; a Programme of Work in Dogmatics, Arranged with Reference to Questions 1-11 of the Heidelberg Catechism. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1965. Scott, Bernard Brandon. The Word of God in Words: Reading and Preaching the Gospels. Fortress Resources for Preaching. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985. Srawley, James Herbert. The Catechetical Oration of Gregory of Nyssa. Cambridge: University Press, 1903. Strauss, Gerald. Luther's House of Learning: Indoctrination of the Young in the German Reformation. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978. Taylor, Larissa. Preachers and People in the Reformations and Early Modern Period. Boston: Brill, 2001. Thielicke, Helmut. How to Believe Again. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1972. Thompson, William. “Catechesis: The Quiet Crisis.” The Bride of Christ (Advent 1990). Trueman, Carl R. The Creedal Imperative. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012. Wengert, Timothy J. A Formula for Parish Practice: Using the Formula of Concord in Congregations. Lutheran Quarterly Books. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2006.

161 Willimon, William H. Peculiar Speech: Preaching to the Baptized. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1992. Woodford, Lucas V. Great Commission, Great Confusion, or Great Confession? The Mission of the Holy Christian Church. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2012.

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