Introducing: The Congregation at Prayer – A Catechetical and Devotional Guide
Beginning this Advent, November 27, we are introducing “The Congregation at Prayer”. This is a weekly devotional and catechetical guide for use in the home and congregation.
Our hope is that this will help our members in prayer, reading the Scriptures, and learning the catechism at home. It will also unite us around the same sections of the Word of God and catechism.
The first week’s guide is included in this issue of Parish Life. Lord willing, it will be distributed each week in the Sunday bulletin and posted on our website.
You should not feel burdened to use all of the material but pray and confess out loud as much from the order of meditation and prayer as you and your family are able.
This guide is based on materials from Concordia Catechetical Academy in Sussex, WI at wwwpeacesussex.org/CCA, which cite the following points in summarizing their “change of thinking about the task of catechesis”:
- Faith in Christ is the goal of all catechesis.
- Catechesis is God’s way of teaching the Word of God by which faith is established. God’s way of teaching always involves the preaching of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
- Catechesis establishes preaching and teaching the Word of God as the center of congregational life.
- Catechesis passes on the language of our holy faith as God’s gift that is received as a gift, rather than as something that is “force fed” into the catechumen.
- The Christian life of faith is lived from the Word of God that is received and believed.
The Christian life of faith has concrete expressions:
- in the ongoing reception of God’s gifts in the Divine Service through the hearing of Scripture, the hearing of preaching, and the eating and drinking of the Lord’s body and blood;
- in the daily prayer of the Christian;
- in the confession of one’s faith in the world;
- in the confession of one’s sins to God or a brother;
- in forgiving the sins of those who have sinned against him;
- and in living “concretely” by faith in Christ in the vocation to which God has called him.
- God has His own language for learning how to receive God’s gifts in the Divine Service, how to pray, how to confess, and how to live where God called us.
- The Small Catechism preserves for us “the pattern of sound words” (2 Timothy 1:13) so that it functions as both a prayer book and handbook for the Christian faith and life.
- The chief reason why the catechism is memorized or “learned by heart” is so that it can shape the faith and understanding of the catechumen and be used by him throughout his life as he learns to interpret Scripture, listen to preaching, receive absolution, pray, confess, and live in his vocation.
- Catechesis is, therefore, much more comprehensive and involves the actual doing of things that Christians will continue to do for the rest of their lives: attend Divine Service, listen to preaching, receive the Lord’s Supper, confess their sins, receive absolution, pray, confess their faith, forgive one another, live as husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, children, workers of every kind, etc.