When Martin Luther set off the Reformation of the church in the early 16th century, the movement gained momentum faster than anyone was able to keep up with. More than ten years into the Reformation Luther together with colleagues went on a tour through the congregations in Saxony for a formal “church visitation,” taking an inventory of church life and the conditions in which priests and parishioners ministered. The results were shocking, and Luther sat down to write explanations to the classic medieval pieces of the Small Catechism: The Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer. The little book was written as a guide for families as well as priests. For their use in worship and at home he added explanations for Baptism and Holy Communion, including also the rites for individual confession and absolution, marriage, baptism, and prayers for mealtime, morning and evening.
While catechisms were widely used in the medieval church for instruction of the faithful, Martin Luther’s edition contains his theology of justification by grace through faith in his explanations and in his re-ordering of the chapters. During Lent the pastors and guest theologians will teach Luther’s Small Catechism on five consecutive Sundays concluding on Palm Sunday.
March 24 Holy Communion, Dr. Art Preisinger