As posted on the blog of the Concordia Catechetical Academy on 29 January 2012
Every Sunday our family goes to Church together. There is no question about whether we will attend or not, it is a given. Sunday Divine Service and Sunday School or catechesis is what we do every week. Why? We are Christians. Our Lord Jesus meets us each week in the Divine Service. We gather to hear the Lord’s preaching. He understands and penetrates the deepest needs of our lives with His Word. He calls us to see our doubts, our fears, our unbelief, our stubbornness, and self-centered loves. He calls us to repentance—to see our sin— that He might restore and renew our lives with His forgiveness. Our faith depends upon His Word and Sacraments. In His Word and Sacraments Jesus meets us and ministers God’s love to us by His Holy Spirit. It is a way of life for us to gather each week to hear His Word, to confess our sin, to pray for our family and the needs of our brothers and sisters in the congregation and community, to sing the praises of our Lord’s love and salvation, and to receive His body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins and the strengthening of our faith in Christ and our love for one another.
When the Catechism begins each section of the Six Chief Parts of Christian doctrine with the subtitle, “As the Head of the Family Should Teach…in a Simple Way” most Christians don’t have a clue of the profound beauty, wisdom, and simplicity of the statement. We teach our children the Christian faith not with smart boards, classroom lectures, or doctrinal essays and exams; we teach our children the faith by doing with them those things that are central to what it is to be a Christian. When weekly attendance at the Divine Service and Sunday catechesis is the normal pattern for a Christian family, children learn that Jesus and His Word and Sacraments are the most important thing to Mom and Dad, and that the practice of our faith in Christ is at the center of our lives as Christians. In short, the habit of weekly attendance at the Divine Service and Sunday catechesis teaches our children what is most important in life.
Included in the habit of weekly attendance is the spirit with which parents approach the liturgy, hymnody, sermon, and catechesis with their children. One of the greatest gifts we can give to our children is simply to talk about what is going on in the Divine Liturgy that Sunday. What are we going to celebrate? What is this Sunday’s Gospel about? What hymns will we sing? When we return from the Divine Service we might talk about how we were drawn in to the Gospel story for the day and how Jesus demonstrated His love for us and for all people. We might also reflect upon the needs of those in the congregation for whom we prayed, and remind ourselves to keep them in our thoughts and prayers over the coming week. Finally, we as parents might be given the opportunity to reflect upon what we have heard and use it as an occasion not to upbraid our children with the Law but to confess our own failings to them and ask their forgiveness. By this they will learn that the Lord Jesus really is present in our lives and that our faith in Him really does matter. Such “sanctified conversation,” seasoned with a discussion of what Jesus has actually done for us and given us in the Divine liturgy and Sunday catechesis, can be among the most impactful and memorable experiences in our children’s lives. By bringing them to the Lord each Sunday and celebrating with them all that the Lord has given them in preaching and the Sacrament, they will learn to love Him as their Savior and Lord.
posted at steadfastlutherans.org on March 4,2011 by Norm Fisher
Background and Relevance
As Christians, it is extremely important that we understand where we have come from. We are Christians who live almost 2,000 years after the ascension of Jesus Christ. We are quite a ways removed from the historic moments of Christ’s life on this earth. Even so, as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation, we belong to the Holy Christian Church that was created by Christ and led by his apostles. Knowing this, we are never to be ignorant of the history of the Church to which we belong. A study of the history of the Church is always a worthwhile endeavor. In that light and in preparation for the season near at hand, an examination of the historic time of Lent now follows.
History of Lent
As early as the Third Century, Christians devoted themselves to prepare for the celebration of Easter. In these early generations, two days before Easter were dedicated to the Christian practice of fasting. From the end of the worship service on Good Friday to the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ on Easter—equaling the time Jesus spent in the tomb—Christians would fast. Generations that followed increased the period of fasting to six days which was also the amount of time catechumens spent in humble preparation for the reception of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper that they would receive at the Easter service.
History shows that the length of preparation for Easter increased from one week to three weeks to six weeks, usually excluding Sundays, which were held by Christians as mini Easters. In Jerusalem, as early as the Fourth Century, Christians fasted for forty days in preparation for Easter. The forty days consisted of five days a week for eight weeks. These forty days symbolized the forty days that Moses dwelled on Mount Sinai (Exodus 24:18), the forty days that Elijah journeyed to Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19:8), and the forty days that Jesus fasted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:2).
In the Seventh Century, the western church arrived at a forty day preparation period for Easter. They were fasting for six weeks at six days a week for a total of 36 days. Beginning in that century, they decided to include the four days that preceded the first Sunday of preparation. That first day of Lent, then, was known as Ash Wednesday.
During the time of the Reformation, Martin Luther continued to observe this preparation period. Lutheran Churches continue this practice. Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent with its conclusion being Holy Saturday, the day before Christ’s resurrection. Because Sundays are mini Easters, each Sunday in Lent is in Lent and not of Lent. And each Sunday in Lent bears a historic Latin name that stems from the first word of the Introit for that Sunday. The names of these Sundays are: Invocavit, Reminiscere, Oculi, Laetare, and Judica, with Palm Sunday bearing the name Palmarum.
Etymology of Lent
For those interested in knowing where the word Lent comes from, and even for those not so interested, the word comes from the Old English word lencten or lengten, which means to lengthen. This word was applied to the season of the year when the days were lengthening, the season known as Spring. Lent and Spring therefore bear similar meanings.
Historically, Christians have prepared for the celebration of the Resurrection by fasting. Fasting was thought to be beneficial to the Christian because evil spirits used food as a means of entering the body. Fasting then limited the possibility of the Christian to contract an evil spirit. Over time, however, fasting became more of a discipline for Christians. During this period of fasting, Christians would not eat any food during the day until the middle of the afternoon. Even though the body strongly desired food, the Christian was to put this desire aside and focus instead on the things of God, the very Word that comes from the mouth of the Lord (Matthew 4:4). The roots of fasting can be traced back to the writings in the Old Testament. Fasting was a means for God’s people to practice control over the body. Understood in that light, fasting is still valuable for Christians today.
Many of us love to eat. And we don’t just eat a little or until we are full and we don’t always eat the best things for us. We often eat more than we should. We do so because we allow the body to control what we eat and how much. This does not have to be for God’s people. Paul writes to the Galatians, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh… And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:16–17, 24).
Such desires of the flesh appear in other ways along with gluttonous eating. Paul specifically mentions the sexuality of the Christian as greatly influenced by the flesh as well as the way we conduct ourselves with others. Truly, there are many ways in which we as Christians can practice self-control, which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:23).
None of this talk of fasting is to lead us as Christians to conclude that we must do these things to please God or to earn or keep our salvation. Quite the contrary. We are encouraged to do these things because we have been set free to do so. Lying as the driving force behind all of this preparation in Lent is true repentance. As Christians, we are to abhor our sinful natures and to confess that we are poor, miserable sinners. We are led by the Spirit to truly repent of our sins and of ourselves, meaning that we are to turn away from all that is sinful and genuinely desire to live the lives Christ Jesus has set us free to live. Not because we have to, but because we truly want to as God’s children, as brothers and sisters in Christ. Having repented of our sins, God faithfully forgives us all our sins and cleanses us from all unrighteousness because of the perfect work of salvation that Jesus has done for us all.
Opportunity, not Opportunities
The season of Lent serves as one opportunity for Christians to prepare for the coming celebration of Easter. The season of Lent is not made up of several opportunities of which you may pick and choose which services you want to attend. Each service is intended to be a part of the total preparation time of Lent. With that in mind, it is my hope that you take advantage of this one opportunity of six weeks to prepare for the celebration of Easter. After these six weeks of dedicated preparation, the Gospel proclamation of Good Friday and Easter Sunday will be that much sweeter to taste. Pray that God would grant this to you this Lententide.
In service to Christ and his Church,
posted by Rev. Brian L. Kachelmeier (Small Church Conference, Monte Vista, CO, May 20-22, 2008) at http://www.redeemerlosalamos.org/pages/unchurched.html
Over the short span of my life, I have noticed that people tend to pick up the lingo of those with whom they associate. People tend to take in the language of the land in which they live. This tendency is no different when it comes to the church. You can tell when someone comes from a Roman Catholic background, because they refer to the Divine Service as the Mass. You can tell when someone comes from an American Evangelical background, because when they pray they repeat the following phrase over and over, “Father God, I just want to…” Likewise, you can tell when someone comes from a Missouri Synod Lutheran background, because they pray the so-called common table prayer rather than the before and after meal prayers suggested by the Blessed Reformer in the Small Catechism.
In our American context, it is easy to get caught up in slogans, programs, methods, movements, and theologies of other non-confessional groups. Like a sponge floating in a dirty sink, we are absorbing the identity of the American Evangelicals. Lately, the strange language of “unreached,” “uncommitted,” and the “unchurched” has come into common usage. We are now even confessing sins of no-mission. It used to be that when we confessed sins of commission and omission, we were covering all the bases. Now all the efforts of the church are focused upon reaching the unreached and churching the unchurched. The focus is placed upon the activities of the church. We are trying so hard to reach the unchurched that we end up turning the church into the unchurch for the sake of the unchurched. The result is that the sheep are starving because they are not being fed the Word, while the goats are getting fatter on the offered programs. All of this is done by proof texting with the so-called Great Commission. Please note that just about anything can be justified by quoting those last verses in Matthew.
In fact, the Christ Care Small Group model (which is used by some of our LCMS congregations) quotes Matthew twenty-eight as the rational behind why they exist. Ironically, they are adamant about stating that such small groups are discussion groups that are facilitated by a person who is not a teacher. Their group meetings consist of discussing what the Scripture means to each individual member. There is no teaching only discussion. Likewise, they do not baptize in these meetings. So the question must be asked, if they are not baptizing and they are not teaching, then how are they making disciples?
We hear the same logic when people say that the heart of the so-called Great Commission is sharing the Good News with others. I thought that the heart of our Lord’s words was to make disciples by baptizing and teaching. Is sharing really the same things as making disciples? Others say that they are “mission minded” and that the purpose of the church is to reach the unchurched. What does it mean to reach? Is reaching the same as baptizing or teaching? Apparently, the term “reaching” means persuading the unchurched to become churched. The best way to persuade someone to become churched is to make the church the unchurch. All of a sudden, everything has been turned upside down, rather than converting the unconverted, we are playing the game of converting the church into something that it is not.
In this way, we see that we have lost the language of conversion. We have lost the language of faith. Our concern is not unbelief, but rather church attendance. When our goal is to church the unchurched, we neglect to realize that there are unbelievers in the midst of the church. A hundred new faces, does not necessarily equate to a hundred believers. We are no longer talking about people being converted to the Christian Faith, but rather people being invited to have a relationship with Jesus.
We seem to have forgotten that all people have a relationship with God. He is the creator of all things and we are His creation (1st Article of the Creed). We cannot make God our Creator or our Savior for that matter. God is our Creator and He is our Savior. The problem is not that we don’t have a relationship, but rather that by nature we are enemies with God and thus have a bad relationship with Him.
In addition, we are using phrases such as “soul winning” and “soul keeping” as they are used in the mission vocabulary of the American Churches. Yet, the church neither “wins” nor “keeps” souls. We confess that Christ has won us (2nd Article) and that the Holy Spirit keeps us (3rd Article). Such faulty phrases have excess theological baggage forcing a “once saved always saved” perspective on the gospel. Those outside of the church are the lost that need to be saved by the gospel while those inside the church are the saved that need to be kept with the law. The focus is wrongly placed upon being involved in a church rather than upon believing in the heart.
Thus, the church is distorted into an organization that attempts to persuade sinners to become saints. Holiness is wrongly derived from man-made activities rather than the holiness of Christ given and apprehended by faith. The divinely instituted means of grace have been replaced with man-made methods of holiness. Emphasis is placed upon human achievement rather than on God’s work which is most evident in the synergistic views of the individual’s cooperation in his conversion. Thus the difference between those inside the church and those outside of the church rests in the individual’s choice to follow Jesus. This decision gives a false security to the individual, brings an artificial comfort, and takes honor and glory from Christ’s work. The American Evangelicals have perverted the gospel (euaggelion).
When our Lutheran Fathers took the name Evangelical, they identified themselves as those who kept the euaggelion pure. Lutherans are Evangelical because we preach the gospel in its purity and administer the sacraments rightly. Only in this way can terrified hearts be truly comforted and all honor given to Jesus. In Galatians chapter one, St. Paul warns us not to turn to a different gospel (eiV eteron euaggelion) and that there are those who desire to distort the gospel of Christ (qelonteV metastreyai to euaggelion tou Cristou). Just as St. Paul would not yield to those spoke contrary to the gospel so that the truth of the gospel would remain among us (ina h alhqeia tou euaggeliou diameinh proV umaV), we too must be diligent to preserve the truth of the gospel among our churches. Those who preach a distorted gospel, preach another gospel (eteron euaggelion) and in essence are unevangelical.
In our context, the American Church does not keep the gospel pure. They distort it, taint it, and reshape it. They nullify the divinely instituted means of grace and replace them with the man-made “sinners prayer.” They have changed the sacraments from gospel into law. For them, the gospel no longer has the power of salvation, but rather the power of persuasion. Yet, they still take the name Evangelical. They claim to be evangelical because they emphasize the spread of the gospel through evangelism to those outside of the church. They love to tell the story. Just like the old hymn, they constantly sing about their love of telling the story without ever telling the story.
Their objective is to bring more and more people into the church. There mission is to reach the unreached and church the unchurched. They are missional due to the fact that they filter all of their activities and efforts through their perceived mission to grow in numbers. From their perspective, to be missional is to be concerned with bringing the unchurched into the church. Thus, the terms evangelical and missional are used interchangeably. In the American context, an evangelical church is a missional church which strives to grow in numbers.
Just like the business world, they hire consultants to direct them in their efforts to appeal to the masses. With their statistical data, they talk in the abstract about those who are outside the church and those who have left the church. They refer to them as the “unchurched.” Then they blame the church for the reason why these people are not involved in the church or why these people left the church. They theorize that if the church could only become unchurch, then the unchurched would become churched.
The language of reaching the unchurched is a strange language to the church. Now, have you ever met a self professing unchurched person? Or for that matter, have you ever met a self professing churched person? It would be like labeling are Canadian friends up north the “Unamericans.” I don’t believe in the unchurched, but I do believe in the one holy, catholic, and apostolic church. This church remains evangelical when it keeps the truth of the gospel (h alhqeia tou euaggeliou). When this is not done, it ceases to be evangelical. When the pure gospel is lost, the church becomes unholy, uncatholic, unapostolic, and unchurch.
However, this is all camouflaged by the use of the term missional. The battle cry is that the unchurching of the church is done for the sake of the mission of the church. The missional church must be guided by a mission of reaching the unreached and the uncommitted. A successful church can easily be measured by the growth in numbers.
For some strange reason we have such an unhealthy concern for numbers. I see this on a regular basis in my context in Los Alamos, New Mexico. I was called to start a mission there. Let me tell you, as soon as you have taken the name “mission,” people assume that means your goal is to grow in numbers. I don’t know how many times I have heard people ask me if we are growing. I don’t seem to recall anyone asking me if I am purely preaching the gospel and rightly administering the sacraments. People are much more interested in learning about the activities we have engaged in for the purpose of reaching the unchurched. The bottom line is a concern for the total number of people in attendance. When people begin to use the language of “missional” and “mission-minded” what lies at the core of such words is the concern for the growth in numbers.
You can see this concern for numbers in the typical “shop talk” between pastors who talk about how many they worship on a Sunday. Some worship 100 while others worship 1000. What kind of language is this? Doesn’t this sound idolatrous in the strictest sense of the word? The language of how many we worship should be reserved for God alone. We worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the substance as the Athanasian Creed teaches. Why are we using language that confuses our confessions? When we confess what we believe we want to be clear and precise.
When we become more concerned about the numbers rather than what is being confessed, then we cease to be a confessional church. Missional churches are driven by man-made mission statements and movements for the sake of increasing the numbers. Such churches put an emphasis upon the goal rather than upon the means to obtaining that goal. More often than not, the means of grace are relegated to the back burner. We have forgotten how to be truly Evangelical and we just assume that we are confessional. After all, we are the church of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession. Apparently, there is no longer a need in our churches to sing, “Lord Keep Us Steadfast in Thy Word.”
We have become obsessed with being missional. We fail to continuously examine ourselves to determine if we are still truly evangelical and confessional. We just assume that we are. Such regular testing and questioning finds no place on our missional radar screen. We seem to have a way of asking the wrong questions and then proposing unhelpful answers. For example, we currently see that the numbers of Lutherans in the LCMS are decreasing every year. Our synod is perpetually shrinking. Then we ask ourselves the wrong question: Why aren’t we growing? The answer is that we need to development new strategies, programs, methods, and movements in order to increase the numbers of people in the LCMS. But, this is the wrong question and definitely an unhelpful answer.
Again, the observation is that we are shrinking in numbers. So, why are we trying to find new ways to increase in numbers? Why not ask the obvious question which is: Why are we shrinking? What can we do in order to stop the shrinking? Why are people leaving the LCMS? What does this mean?
In my context, in Los Alamos, New Mexico, I have been preaching the Gospel and administering the sacraments for almost three years now. In that short period of time, I have observed a variety of things. The county itself consists of a little over 18,000 people. According to the demographic study, about 80 percent of the residents are churched. Being a sociological term, this percentage probably includes Mormons, Unitarians, etc… In this small community, we are the only LCMS congregation. We have 44 baptized members. However, I have come across, about 40 other people who at one time were confirmed in an LCMS congregation, but have nothing to do with us. Keep in mind that this number would dramatically increase if you were to count those who were baptized in an LCMS congregation. I imagine that there are far more people that I am not even aware of.
Out of the 40 people, 3 of them are pastors serving various churches in the community. In addition, there are two other individuals who graduated from our Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska. One of them, at one time served as a parochial school teacher and the other had also attended our seminary in St. Louis, but never graduated. In addition, there is another man whose father is an LCMS pastor. Also, there is another lady who has relatives who are LCMS clergy.
So, why did these 40 people leave the LCMS? Would anyone suggest that the answer to this question is to become all things to all of these people and for the sake of trying to bring them back, convert the church into a Baptist-Romanist-Methodist-Nazarene-Eastern conglomeration congregation? Should we be concerned? Or should we be content that they are “churched”?
What should we be concerned about anyway? Is the goal of the church churching the unchurched? If our goal, or shall I say mission, is to church the unchurched, then there should be no concern with all of those who left the Evangelical Lutheran Church for another lover. After all they are still churched, right?
If our concern is merely reaching the unreached and churching the unchurched, then we should only be concerned about the increase in numbers. It then makes sense to increase the number of programs in order to increase attendance. It makes sense to convert the style of the Divine Service to make the unconverted comfortable.
But if our goal, or shall I say mission, is to make disciples, then we should be concerned with baptizing and teaching and teaching and teaching and teaching. Keep in mind that a disciple is a student, a learner, a hearer. We are sheep who continue to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd. In other words, the church makes sheep and feeds sheep until the Good Shepherd returns. Remember, that Christ teaches us in the parable of the sower that there are four types of disciples who hear the Word (Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8). The devil swipes the Word of God from the first type, the second type falls away after testing, the third type is choked out by the cares of the world, and it is only the fourth type that remains and produces much fruit. Making disciples, does not necessarily increase the number of members in a church. As disciples we are to continue to hear the Word of God. Ironically, the increase in such teachings as the parable of the sower is not centered in number of plants, but instead the amount of fruit.
Now, remember that the observation was made that the numbers of Lutherans are shrinking. But the numbers are not the problem. Leave the numbers to the sociologists. The concern of the church is faith in the heart. Don’t get me wrong, the numbers are important insofar as they raise a red flag. These are symptoms of the conditions of the hearts of those individuals who are leaving. The concern of the church is soul. Have these people left because they are unbelievers? Have they left because they are unrepentant? Or perish the thought, have these people left because they are Lutheran and they left an Unlutheran church?
The real problem is the condition of the heart which is the same problem in the church and outside of the church. Just because someone is “churched,” it doesn’t mean that they have faith. What ever happened to the language of conversion? The term conversion seems to have been dropped from our vocabulary. In this synergistic culture there is no place for original sin and the devil. Such a perspective assumes that the so-called “unchurched” are neutral and just waiting for someone to invite them to church. In this way, the goal is a change in behavioral patterns. Conversion is falsely identified as an outward change in attitude toward attending church.
Conversion is not a change in behavioral patterns; rather, conversion is the change of being. An individual is transferred from the state of sin and death to the state of faith and life. Only, through the Word of the Gospel, can true conversion take place. We are not to unchurch the church, but rather convert the unconverted. As a Confessional Church it is our duty to confess the Faith that has been handed down to us. We have been given a rich heritage of comforting terrified consciences and giving all glory to Christ alone with the pure gospel. Our Lutheran Confessions help us to frame a proper understanding of missions and the church rooted in the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed.
The Creed gives us a picture of the whole story of human existence from the beginning to the end, from creation to the Last Day. In the Creed, we confess that God is Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. The basis for what the church believes and does rests in the Creed. The Church plays a vital role here on earth as we draw closer to the Last Day. The Church exists for one purpose and that purpose is to deliver the forgiveness of sins won by Christ to the people of the world. The Church forgives sins in the preaching of the Gospel and the administering of the sacraments. The true mission of the Church is to deliver this treasure that Christ has won.
This glorious treasure of eternal life and the forgiveness of sins would not benefit a person unless it was revealed to him. In order to believe, one must hear about the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. The work of the Holy Spirit is to reveal and give to mankind this treasure. Luther writes in the Large Catechism, “This, now, is the article which must ever be and remain in operation. For creation we have received; redemption, too, is finished But the Holy Ghost carries on His work without ceasing to the last day. And for that purpose He has appointed a congregation upon earth by which He speaks and does everything.” (Creed, Article III, 61). The task of the church is to distribute the treasure that Christ has won for us. Through the Word of God and the Sacraments the Holy Spirit calls, gathers, enlightens people with the knowledge of the forgiveness of sins making unholy people holy by applying the holiness of Christ to them. The Spirit draws people to Christ which is the work of sanctification.
Article VII of the Augsburg Confession teaches that the church is not an organization of morally upright citizens who have changed their behavior and attitude toward attending church. Instead, it teaches that the church is an “The Church is the congregation of saints [believers], in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered.” (AC VII, 1). But, outside the Christian church (that is, where there is no gospel) there is no forgiveness, and hence no holiness (Large Catechism, Creed, Article III, 56). Apart from the activity of the Holy Spirit, no one can come to Christ or believe in him. Apart from Christ, human beings are dead in their sins, enemies of God, and have no true spiritual understanding. Without the church, the work of Christ remains undelivered and the forgiveness of sins is not given. Without the church, people die in their sins. This is no child’s game. In this article of the Faith, we see the importance of the mission of the church. The church has been given the special authority over sin on earth. This authority is not to be taken lightly or forgotten. The task of the church is to forgive sins.
It is God’s desire that no one should perish, but rather that all should repent and believe in Jesus Christ for salvation (1 Tim. 2:4). Therefore, the Holy Spirit uses the Holy Christian Church to achieve this mission. On earth, the Spirit of God works through the Church and the forgiveness of sins to make people holy. The Church in its very essence is a missionary church. It has been given the true mission to purely proclaim the Gospel and rightly administer the sacraments for the purpose of making disciples. Jesus sent the Apostles out to make disciples. Disciples are made by baptizing and teaching the Word of Jesus. Baptism is thus the missionary sacrament. In this gift, forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life are given. People are brought into the church solely by the work of God through the means of grace. Through Holy baptism, God brings us out of darkness into light and kindles in us faith and true understanding. There is a great difference between those who have been baptized and those who have not been baptized. The baptized have been made free (Solid Declaration, Article II on Free Will, 67-68). They now have a desire, however small it may be, to hear and gladly learn God’s Word. The unbaptized have no such desire.
Still, it is true that here on earth the unbaptized have the freewill to go to church, read the Word, and hear the preaching of the Gospel, but this freewill does not enable a person to make a decision for Jesus regarding the message of forgiveness. The power rests in the working of the Holy Spirit in the Word (Solid Declaration, Article II on Free Will, 52-53). Knowing that people have freewill in this manner, the members of the church should do all that they can to encourage those outside of the church to hear the Word of God. We should persuade people to allow the Holy Spirit to work in their lives through the Word, rather than try to persuade them to make themselves believe. It is impossible to persuade a dead person to live. With our lips we can confess our faith to others. We should be ready at all time to give an account for the hope we have in Christ Jesus (I Peter 3:15). As individual members of the Church, our task is to confess the Name of Jesus before others. It is the task of the Holy Spirit to create the faith.
The unbaptized also have the freewill to refuse to go to church, read the Word, and hear the preaching of the Gospel. Therefore, we in the church should not put up stumbling blocks to cause people to resist the working of the Holy Spirit in the Word. With our lives we can display our faith to others. As members of the church, the Holy Spirit is working in us to bring about true increase by daily growing in faith and the fruits of the Spirit (Solid Declaration, Article II on Free Will). We should consistently examine our own lives and discern if we are hindering the work of the Holy Spirit in us. How can we effectively encourage others not to hinder the work of God if we are hindering God’s work in our own lives?
Thus we pray in the Second Petition, “Thy kingdom come.” We pray that it would come to us and many others. God’s kingdom comes to us when by the power of the Holy Spirit we believe the Word of God and live lives according to it. Luther writes,
Therefore we pray here in the first place that this may become effective with us, and that His name be so praised through the holy Word of God and a Christian life that both we who have accepted it may abide and daily grow therein, and that it may gain approbation and adherence among other people and proceed with power throughout the world, that many may find entrance into the Kingdom of Grace, be made partakers of redemption, being led thereto by the Holy Ghost, in order that thus we may all together remain forever in the one kingdom now begun. For the coming of God's Kingdom to us(Large Catechism, 2nd Petition, 52-53) occurs in two ways; first, here in time through the Word and faith; and secondly, in eternity forever through revelation. Now we pray for both these things, that it may come to those who are not yet in it, and, by daily increase, to us who have received the same, and hereafter in eternal life.
To be faithful to our Confessions, we must be careful not to focus on bringing the kingdom to others at the expense of neglecting growth in the kingdom of those who have already become baptized into the Christian Faith. It is God’s will that His Kingdom would increase in both the quantity of total members and in the quality of the lives of individual members. This objective can only take place by the power of the gospel.
In this life, sin continues to cling to all people even among believers. Since all have sinned and we continue to sin daily, the very essence of being the holy church is to be truly evangelical. The church must be diligent about keeping the gospel pure. Through the means of grace the Holy Spirit continues to bestow to us the forgiveness sins that have been won by Christ. These are the means through which the Holy Spirit creates, strengthen, and sustains faith. Therefore, the Holy Spirit continues to apply the holiness of Christ to all people. The Holy Spirit continues to use the law of God to convict hearts of sin and the gospel of God to create faith in the heart. God has appointed the church to proclaim the gospel to the world while at the same time He continues to make His church holy through the gospel. In this Christian Church, God continues to daily forgive our sins.
Therefore, let us be the church. Let us refer to those outside of the church, who have no hope of salvation in the name of Jesus, as the unbelievers. With this language we show forth our true concern which is the absence of faith. Let us use the term unbaptized to refer to those who have not yet received the gift of baptism. In this way, we will emphasize the importance of baptism as a means of grace. Likewise, to those who are in the state of ruling sin, let us refer to them as unrepentant sinners. In this way, we rightly focus on the need for repentance. In addition, let us refer to those who are not converted as the unconverted. In this way, we shall draw attention to the need for them to be transferred from the state of sin and death into the state of faith and life.
The task of the church is to forgive sinners by bestowing upon them the comfort and peace that can only be found in our Lord Jesus Christ. The Creed clarifies our understanding of the Christian Faith and the purpose of the Christian Church. God Himself is the One who creates, redeems, and sanctifies. The mission of the Church is to give the gifts that Christ has won for us. These gifts are for sinners outside of the church as well as for the sinners within the church. In order to give true comfort to the terrified conscience, all glory must be given to Jesus Christ alone. In order to be truly missional, we must be truly evangelical. In order to be truly evangelical, we must be truly confessional. In order to convert the unconverted, we must remain to be the church.
It is to bow the head, bend the body, fall on the knees, prostrate one's self, and so forth, and to do such things as a sign and acknowledgment of an authority and power; just as people bow in silence before secular princes and Lords, and just as popes, bishops, abbots, and people generally, have themselves honored and adored [ehrbieten] by bowing and kneeling, and so forth. Such outward adoration [ehrbietunge] is what the Scriptures really mean by worship [anbeten].... We read in the Scriptures that worship [anbeten] or adoration [ehrbieten] is rendered outwardly both to God and to kings without distinction, just as bowing and kneeling are still rendered outwardly both to God and to men.
From this understanding of outward worship you will also understand what Christ meant by true spiritual worship. It is the adoration or bowing of the heart, so that from the bottom of your heart you thereby show and confess yourself to be his subordinate creature. For from this you see that true worship can be nothing else than faith; it is faith's sublimest activity with respect to God. For no one is capable of such heartfelt confession, adoration, bending, and bowing (or whatever you want to call it) before God in his heart, unless he unwaveringly holds God to be his Lord and Father, from whom he receives and will receive all good things, and through whom, without any merit on his part, he is redeemed and preserved from all sins and evil.
Posted at http://steadfastlutherans.org/2013/08/establishing-the-family-altar/ by Pastor Joshua Scheer
A printable copy can be found here.
We have a problem in the Church. Our children are not learning the Faith or how that finds expression in our daily lives. Too often, the false gospels of the world have been inching their way into our children’s souls so that by the time they are adults, the faith given to them in Baptism has been shipwrecked through our own negligence. The times only are getting worse, and the world is becoming much more public in its hatred of the Gospel of Christ Jesus and those who follow Him.
So what can we do? The Church has tried a number of things[...], but all of them have not fixed the situation because they failed to acknowledge first and foremost who has been given the authority and responsibility to God for the religious instruction of children. God has primarily given that task to the parents.
The Christian Faith is meant to be a life-filling one. This means that from rising to going to bed our lives are to be reflective of the Gospel of Christ Jesus. This means a life filled with repentance and faith in Him. It means that the way that husband and wife interact has changed. It means that there is a great earnestness to pass on the Faith to children that cannot be found elsewhere. It means that the way the world does things is not going to be the way that Christians do.
The key to raising our children in the Faith is the household. For too long, parents have delegated both the time and task of religious practice to the Church. For too long, Sunday mornings have been viewed as time for Jesus while the rest of the week has scarcely been sanctified by God’s Word and prayer. The key is the home. It is in the home that God places us for the most time. It is in the home that our struggle between sinner and saint takes up most of our lives. It is there that we need His Word most. This is not an either/or, as Church is essential to the Christian home and in no way should the home become a substituted for regular attendance of Divine Service.
So as a solution, I am suggesting and challenging you to establish a Family Altar in your home. This is not a place in your house (though it could be) but a specific time for your household to gather around God’s Word and prayer. God has so ordered our lives that there are some great times of the day that could work to establish a Family Altar, when we awake, when we go to bed, or when we sit down to eat. These times offer us ample time to calm down from the hectic pace of life to hear and pray. These things happen each day and already have habits associated with them, so adding prayer to these times should hopefully be easier.
The following are some suggestions for establishing a Family Altar:
In the course of establishing a Family Altar, there will be several excuses that come up from within the family but also the world will try to edge its way in as well. Here are some FAQ:
Is it really necessary for the father to lead?
Yes it is. God looks to him as the head of the household, made so by God’s ordering. In leading this may mean that he may have to delegate tasks to others, but this should never mean that the father is uninvolved or absent. Certainly there may be times when one family member may not be able to be there, but the father should always try to be there.
What about those days when it just doesn’t happen?
Let those days be few and the exception. Do not let the world have your family or your kids! Take them back to you as they are God’s gifts to your marriage, to your household.
What if some of the family can’t make it?
The Family Altar should be maintained even if some cannot attend. If one member of the family regularly is missing, then that matter should be resolved.
What about young children?
If you have younger children it may be hard to keep them involved. You may be surprised though at how young children will gladly join into a daily routine of a Family Altar. Certainly they can be encouraged to sit quietly. Another option is to give them a quiet task while they sit with the family.
What if the children or adults are falling asleep?
(this can happen a lot in morning or evening)
You can either change bedtimes or Family Altar times to alleviate this problem.
How do we keep our routine going on trips or special times in life?
The same way that you keep your other routines going (eating, sleeping, etc.). You do them because this is who you are. Having a daily Family Altar is a part of the day, no matter what is going on that day. If you have guests, invite them to be a part of your Family Altar time. If guests do not want to be a part, give them some other things to do while your family has its time.
What if my wife or family is unhappy or bored with what I am doing?
You can be sensitive to your family members and even change some things, but the change should never be in favor of having no Family Altar time or one which does not reflect our beliefs as Lutherans.
What about single moms or households where the father is negligent of the Spiritual lives of the family?
Single moms are the heads of their households because there is no father there. In many cases it may be because of the father’s sin. Sometimes they sadly find themselves as widows with the extra responsibility. In any case they have the responsibility to establish a Family Altar time. Special note should be made to raise sons to take over the Family Altar time as they will need to do so when they have families. In the case of a negligent father, the mother must make do with what she can, trying to encourage her husband (without nagging) to take up his God-given role and yet also encouraging the faithful life of her children. Your pastor is available to visit and meet anytime to help you in any way.
We haven’t done the Family Altar for over two weeks after a good start, what do we do?
There is only one thing to do, repent and restart. Our Lord offers forgiveness to us when we fail (sin). In that forgiveness is the power to start over, to begin anew.
What resources are available to my family?
There are more “family devotion” books than can be listed. I would suggest a simpler routine at first and then adding to it as the Family Altar becomes routine. Your pastor is probably one of the best resources for this task. Also other fathers in the congregation may be good resources.
Some suggestions to include in your Family Altar time:
Family Altar time can include more than just what I have suggested from the Small Catechism. You could read Bible Stories for children to learn, or you could use the time for memory work with Sunday School or Confirmation Class. There is as I said before many devotions which could be used in the time. The sky is the limits when finding “extra” things that you could do with your Family Altar time.
Some tips for making the Family Altar a success:
The Family Altar is the daily outgrowth of what happens for your good on Sunday morning. From what the Lord gives in Divine Services you are enabled and encouraged to establish and keep a Family Altar going. Regular Church attendance (hearing God’s Word, receiving the Lord’s Supper) is essential to keeping a Family Altar going.
Reblogged from http://scotkinnaman.com/2006/04/08/how-to-meditate-on-the-passion-of-christ/
by Martin Luther
Wrong Ways to Meditate on Christ’s Passion
Some people meditate on the Passion of Christ and become angry at the Jews. They sing and go on and on about Judas too.  They are just doing what they always do. They love to complain about other people. They spend all their time condemning their enemies. I guess this is a meditation of sorts, but not a meditation on the sufferings of Christ. It is just a meditation on the wickedness of the Jews and Judas.
Other people who like to talk about the benefit of meditating on Christ’s Passion miss the point. Something Albertus  said can be very misleading. He said that thinking about the Passion of Christ is better than fasting a whole year or praying through the Psalms every day. Some people blindly follow him, take his comment literally, and then act contrary to Christ’s passion. They are just looking out for their own interests, trying to get out of doing other things. They superstitiously decorate themselves with pictures and booklets, letters and crucifixes. Some of them even go so far as to imagine that by doing these things they are protecting themselves against drowning, burning, the sword, and all sorts of other dangers.  They try to use the sufferings of Christ to prevent any suffering from coming into their life, which is of course entirely contrary to how life really is.
Then there are the people who like to sympathize emotionally with Christ. They weep and wail over Him because He was so innocent. They are like the women who followed Christ from Jerusalem. He rebuked them! He told them that they should weep for themselves and their children. They run headlong into the Passion season thinking they are receiving great benefit by pondering deeply on things like how Jesus left Bethany, or the pains and sorrows suffered by the Virgin Mary.  They meditate on these things for hours and hours on end. But they never get any farther. Somehow they don’t reflect on Christ’s actual suffering and death. God only knows if they are doing this more to sleep than to watch and wait with Christ. 
People like this include fanatics who try to teach people that they receive a great blessing from simply attending the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, standing there and watching it being performed. They try to tell people that simply showing up and watching a Mass, automatically works blessings, by the very act of doing it. They would lead people to believe that the Lord’s Supper has nothing to do with faith in the promise of the Lord’s Supper, or being worthy to receive the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper was not instituted for its own sake, as if simply doing it was the point. It was given for the purpose of meditating on the Passion of Christ. If we don’t do this, we are turning the Lord’s Supper into a human work. We are making it a useless thing that we do, no matter how good it may be in and of itself. What use is it to you that God is God, if He is not God for you? What use is eating and drinking if they are not beneficial for you? We should be afraid of thinking that we will become better simply because we celebrate the Lord’s Supper a lot, while all the while failing to receive its true benefit.
The Right Way to Think About Christ’s Passion
When we meditate on the Passion of Christ the right way, we see Christ and are terrified at the sight. Our conscience sinks in despair. This feeling of terror needs to happen so that we fully realize how great the wrath of God is against sin and sinners. We understand this when we see how God sets sinners free only because His dearly beloved Son — His only Son — paid such a costly ransom for us, as Isaiah 53:8 says, “He was stricken for the transgressions of my people.”
What happens to us when we see the dear Child of God struck down like this? We realize how inexpressible, even unbearable, is the Son’s total commitment to saving sinners. How else can we feel when we realize that a person so great as Christ went out to meet this fate, suffering and dying for sinners? If you truly and deeply reflect on the fact that God’s Son, the eternal Wisdom of God, suffers, you will be filled with terror. The more you reflect on it the deeper you will feel this way.
You should deeply believe, and never doubt, that in fact you are the one who killed Christ. Your sins did this to Him. St. Peter struck terror in the hearts of the Jews when he said in Acts 2:36-27: “You crucified Him!” Three thousand people were filled with terror. Trembling in fear they cried out to the Apostles, “Dear brothers, what should we do?” Therefore, when you look at the nails being driven through His hands, firmly believe that it is your work. Do you see His crown of thorns? Those thorns are your wicked thoughts.
Look! When one thorn pierces Christ, you need to know that more than a thousand should pierce you. They should pierce you for all eternity even more painfully than they ever pierced Christ. When you see nails driven through the hands and feet of Christ, know that you should be suffering this for all eternity, with even more painful nails. Everyone who looks on Christ’s sufferings and forgets about them, thinking they are of no worth, will suffer such a fate for all eternity. The Passion of Christ is a mirror of what is to come. This mirror is no lie and no joke. Whatever Jesus says will happen, completely.
Bernard  was so terrified by the sufferings of Christ that he said, “At one time I thought I was secure. I didn’t know a thing about the judgment that had been passed on me in heaven, until I saw that the eternal Son of God had mercy on me. I saw that He stepped forward and offered Himself on my behalf, receiving my judgment and taking my place. I can no longer feel so carelessly when I realize how serious the sufferings of Christ are.” This is why Jesus commanded the women, “Do not cry for me. Cry for yourselves and your children” (Luke 23:28).
It is as if Jesus is saying, “Learn from my death what you have earned and what you deserve to receive.” It is like a little dog is being killed in order to frighten a large dog. This is why the Prophet said, “All generations will lament and wail more than Him.” He doesn’t say they lament Him. They are lamenting for their own fate. This explains why the people were filled with terror in Acts 2:27, as I’ve already mentioned, and said to the Apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” The church sings, “I will ponder this diligently and then my soul will languish.” 
A person should carefully consider this point. The benefit of Christ’s sufferings depends entirely on a person coming to know himself well and being filled with terror to the point of death. If a person does not reach this point, the sufferings of Christ will really not benefit him. Christ’s sufferings naturally make all people alike. As Christ died horribly in his body and soul for our sins, so we must, like him, die in our own consciences because of our sin. This does not take place through a lot of words, but by means of deep thought and a profound realization of our sins. Let me illustrate my point. Let’s say an evil person kills the child of a prince or king without bothering you, and you continue singing and playing as if you were entirely innocent. Then you are arrested and convinced that you were the reason the child was killed. You would be horrified! Your conscience would strike you deeply. So, you should be even more upset when you consider the sufferings of Christ. The Jews who killed Christ, and have now been judged and banished by God, were merely the servants of your sins. You are truly the one who strangled and crucified the Son of God through your sins.
If anyone is so cold and unfeeling that he is not terrified when he views the sufferings of Christ, he should tremble with fear. You must become like the pictures of Christ’s sufferings. It can’t be otherwise. Either here in time or in hell for all eternity. At the moment of your death, if not sooner, you need to fall into terror, tremble and shake with fear, and experience all that Christ suffered on the cross. It is terrible to wait until you die to do this. Pray to God and ask Him to soften your heart now and so you can meditate fruitfully on Christ’s passion. It is impossible for us to meditate on the sufferings of Christ by our own ability or power. God must plant these sufferings into our heart. This meditation on Christ’s suffering, as with all doctrine from God, is not given to you so that you can go off and do your own thing with it. No, you should always first search for God’s grace and long for it. On your own, you can’t do anything. Everything depends on God’s grace. People who never view the sufferings of Christ correctly are the people who never call upon God and ask him to help them. Instead, they try to consider Christ’s suffering on their own and end up regarding Christ’s sufferings in a purely human and unfruitful way.
Let me say this very clearly and openly for all to hear. Whoever meditates on Christ’s sufferings the right way for a day, an hour, even for fifteen minutes, is doing something far better than fasting for a whole year, praying all the Psalms every day, or listening to one hundred masses. The right kind of meditation on Christ’s suffering changes a person’s character. As in Baptism, a person is newly born again through such meditation. Then the sufferings of Christ are accomplishing their true, natural and noble work. They kill the Old Adam. They banish from us all lust, pleasure and security that we might think one of God’s creatures can give us, just like Christ was forsaken by all, even by God.
We need to realize that feeling born again is not something that is up to us. It may be that sometimes we will pray for it, but do not receive it just then. We should not despair, but keep on praying. At times it comes when we are not praying for it. God knows what we need. He will do what is best. It is free and unbound. It may be that when our consciences are causing us distress and we are deeply unhappy with our lives and what we have done we do not realize it, but the Passion of Christ is doing this to us. On the other hand, some people may think they are meditating on Christ’s Passion, but they become so caught up in thinking about themselves that they can’t work their way out of it. The first group are truly meditating on Christ’s Passion, others are just making a show of it and it is false.
The Comfort of Christ’s Suffering
Up to this point in our discussion, it is as if we have been in Passion Week and Good Friday. Now we come to Easter and Christ’s Resurrection. When a person, whose conscience has been filled with terror, understands his sins in this light, he needs to watch out that his sins do not remain in his conscience, for then nothing but pure doubt will result. Just as our sins flowed out of Christ and we became aware of them, so we should pour them back on Him again and set our conscience free. Make sure you do not bite and devour one another with sins in your heart, running here and there with your own good works, trying to make satisfaction for them, trying to work your way out of your sins by means of indulgences. It is impossible! Unfortunately, it is still the case that many people, far and wide, think they find a refuge in such satisfactions and pilgrimages.
Take your sins and throw them on Christ. Believe with a joyful spirit that your sins are His wounds and sufferings. He carries them and makes satisfaction for them, as Isaiah 53:6 says, “The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Peter says in 1 Peter 2:24, “He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree.” In 2 Corinthians 5:21 Paul says, “For our sake, He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” You must rely on these verses from the Bible with all your might, even more when your conscience tries to kill you. You’ll never find peace if you miss this opportunity to quiet your heart. You will have so much doubt that you will despair. If we dwell too much on our sins, going over and over them in our conscience, keeping them close to our hearts, soon they will become too much for us to manage and they will live forever. But when we see our sins laid on Christ and see Him triumph over them by His Resurrection, and fearlessly believe this, our sins are dead and become nothing. Our sins don’t stay on Christ, but are swallowed up by His resurrection. Now you see no wounds, no pain, no sight of sin at all in Him. That is why Paul says in Romans 4:25 that Jesus “was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” In His sufferings Christ made our sins known and was crucified for them. By His resurrection He makes us righteous and frees from all sin. If you are not able to believe then pray to God for faith. This is entirely up to God. He gives faith at times very dramatically and openly, and at other times, secretly and quietly.
Therefore, here is what you need to do. First, stop looking at Christ’s sufferings any longer. They have already done their work and have terrified you. Press forward through all difficulties and see His friendly heart. Look how full of love God’s heart is for you. It was this love that moved Him to bear the heavy load of your conscience and sin. If you do this, your heart will be sweetly loving toward Him. The assurance of your faith will be stronger. Ascend higher through the heart of Christ to the heart of God and then you will see that Christ would not have been able to love you if God had not willed all this in His eternal love. Christ is obedient to this love, and so loves you. In the heart of God you will find a divine, good, fatherly heart. As Christ says, you will be drawn to the Father through Christ. Then you will understand what Christ meant when he said in John 3:16, “God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son.” This is how we know God as He wants us to know Him. We know Him not by His power and wisdom, which terrify us, but by His goodness and love. There our faith and confidence stand unmovable. This is how a person is truly born again in God.
When your heart is set on Christ, you are an enemy of sin, because of love, and not because you are afraid of being punished. Christ’s sufferings should be an example for your whole life. You should meditate on them in a different way. To this point we have considered Christ’s Passion as a sacrament that works in us. Now we want to consider the sufferings of Christ in a different way, in a way that is something that works in us when we suffer. When the day comes that sickness and sorrow weigh you down, think how little it matters compared to the thorns and nails of Christ. If you have to do something you don’t want, or can’t do something you want to do, think about how Christ was led about by others, tied up as a prisoner. Does pride attack you? Look at how your Lord was mocked and disgraced along with murderers. Do sexually impure thoughts and lust come your way, thrusting themselves on you? Think how bitter it was for Christ to have his tender flesh torn, pierced and beaten, again and again. Are hatred and envy at war within you, or are you seeking vengeance? Remember how Christ prayed for you, and all of his enemies, with many tears and cries. He had more reason than you to seek revenge! If any trouble or adversity trouble your body or soul, take heart! Say, “Why shouldn’t I also not suffer a little since my Lord sweat blood in the Garden because of his anxiety and grief? I would be a lazy, disgraceful servant if all I want to do is lie in bed while my Lord is forced to do battle with a painful death.”
This is how you find strength in Christ and are comforted when you struggle with all kinds vice and bad habits. This is the right way to meditate on the Passion of Christ. This is the fruit of His suffering. That is why somebody who meditates on Christ’s passion, in this way, really is doing something better than hearing the whole Passion story read, or reading all sorts of Masses. People who make the life and name of Christ part of their own life are truly called Christians, as Paul says in Gal. 5:24: “Those who are in Christ have crucified the flesh with all its passions and lusts.” We need to meditate on Christ’s passion, not with lots of words or with a showy display, but put it to true use in our lives. Paul admonishes us in Hebrews 12:3, “Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” Peter says in 1 Peter 4:1: “Since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking.” But this kind of meditation on Christ’s passion is not used much. It is very rare, although the Epistles of Paul and Peter are filled with it. We have changed the essence of meditation on Christ’s Passion into a show, and simply painted meditation on Christ’s passion in letters and on walls.
To God Alone Be the Glory!
Revised translation by:
Paul T. McCain
The First Sunday in Lent
February 29, 2004
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright @2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
1. Luther is alluding to a medieval German hymn, Wretched Judas, What Have You Done?
2. Albert Magnus (1193-1280) was a Scholastic theologian, a teacher of the most famous of all such theologians, Thomas Aquinas.
3. Luther is referring to the practice in his day of carrying around all kinds of Christian “trinkets” in a superstitious way as good luck charms, intended to ward off all sorts of dangers.
4. Much was made in Luther’s Germany about Christ leaving the home of his friends and supporters, Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Veneration of Martha was widespread throughout Germany at this time.
5. Contemplations on all the events surrounding the actual crucifixion, such as meditating on Christ leaving Bethany, or on the suffering of the Virgin Mary to last up to five hours. Many times they would last even longer and people would fall asleep.
6. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), was a Cistercian monk, mystic and the founder of the Abbey of Clairvaux. He was held in high esteem by Luther, who often quotes him.
7. This could very well be from Bernard of Clairvaux hymn Salve Caput Cruentatem, later loosely paraphrased by the most famous of all Lutheran hymn writers, Paul Gerhardt in his hymn, O Sacred Head Now Wounded.
A Note About this Text
April 5, 1519, Martin Luther sent a copy of his essay titled A Sermon Concerning Meditation on the Holy Sufferings of Christ to his friend George Spalatin. Within five years, it had been published in twenty-four editions. It was enormously popular. It was translated into Latin in 1521. Later, when Luther put together helps and sermons for preachers, it was included as the sermon for Good Friday in the Church Postil of 1525.
This translation is based on the English translation that appeared in a 1906 collection of Luther’s writings, titled Lutherans in All Lands. An alternate translation may be found in the American Edition of Luther’s Works, Volume 42, pgs. 7ff.
The original edition of the text is found in the Weimar Ausgabe as Ein Sermon von der Betrachtung des heiligen Leidens Christi in WA 2:136-142.