Martin Luther's TableTalk April 2017

One thing I have cherished over the years in ministry is the privilege of reviewing Luther’s Small Catechism. This little booklet is full of God’s word and promises to us in the form of the Lord’s Prayer, The Creed, Baptism and Holy Communion. The explanations that Luther provides are simple, yet profound. I have to admit I didn’t remember much when I was in Confirmation, but to re-read the Small Catechism, has strengthened my faith and solidified my beliefs as an adult. The readings I have chosen for this month include Luther’s thoughts on justification, baptism and Holy Communion. I challenge you to look through your books and see if you can locate Luther’s Small Catechism and have a review session. Don’t have a copy?—contact me and I’ll see if I can round one up for you! Blessings as you go about your daily calling in Christ Jesus.... Betsy

The sacraments: The Sacraments are signs of God’s will toward us and not merely signs of people among one another. Those who define Sacraments in the New Testament as signs of grace are correct. There are two things in a Sacrament: a sign and the Word. In the New Testament, the Word is the promise of grace added. The promise of the New Testament is the promise of the forgiveness of sins, “This is my body, which is given for you. This (cup) is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” (see Mt 26:26-28; Mk 14:22-24; Lk 22:19-20; 1 Cor 11:24-25) So the Word offers the forgiveness of sins. A ceremony is a sort of picture, or seal, as Paul (Rom 4:11) calls it, the Word making known the promise. Therefore, just as the promise is useless unless it is received through faith, so a ceremony is useless unless faith, which is truly confident that the forgiveness of sins is here offered, is added. This faith encourages penitent minds. Just as the Word has been given to excite this faith, so the Sacrament has been set up so that what meets the eyes might move the heart to believe. The Holy Spirit works through these: Word and Sacrament.

Apology of the Augsburg Confession XXIV (XII) 69-70

First winter bouquet from my garden

OF JUSTIFICATION

"When Abraham shall rise again at the last day, then he will chide us for our unbelief, and will say: I had not the hundredth part of the promises which you have, and yet I believed. That example of Abraham exceeds all human natural reasons, who, overcoming the paternal love he bore towards his only son Isaac, was all obedient to God, and, against the law of nature, would have sacrificed that son. What, for the space of three days, he felt in his breast, how his heart yearned and panted, what hesitations and trials he had, cannot be expressed."

"A Christian must be well armed, grounded, and furnished with sentences out of God’s word, that so he may stand and defend religion and himself against the devil, in case he should be asked to embrace another doctrine."

Day of Prayer at Mt Tamborine, May 2012

OF BAPTISM

"The Anabaptists pretend that children, not as yet having reason, ought not to receive baptism. I answer: that reason in no way contributes to faith. Nay, in that children as destitute of reason they are all the more fit and proper recipients of baptism. For reason is the greatest enemy that faith has: it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but—more frequently than not—struggles against the Divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God. If God can communicate the Holy Ghost to grown persons, he can, a fortiori communicate it to young children. Faith comes of the Word of God, when this is heard, little children hear that Word when they receive baptism, and therewith they receive also faith."

Baptism of 11 children at St John's Lutheran Church, Geelong, Victoria, September 2016!

OF THE SACRAMENT OF THE LORD’S SUPPER

"The operative cause of the sacrament is the word and institution of Christ, who ordained it. The substance is bread and wine, prefiguring the true body and blood of Christ, which is spiritually received by faith. The final cause of instituting the same, is the benefit and the fruit, the strengthening of our faith, not doubting that Christ’s body and blood were given and shed for us and that our sins by Christ’s death certainly are forgiven."

"Shed" altar at Whanganui, New Zealand

The big projection for April - new landscaping in our front yard!

"Jesus is your friend. He loves you and wants to come to you. let Him in." M. B. Schlink, Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary

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