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From the Confessions: The Small Catechism
Let those of you who cannot do better take these booklets and forms and read them to the people word for word as follows. But first, let the preacher take great care to avoid many kinds of or various texts and forms of the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, the Sacraments, etc. Choose one form, adhere to it, and use it to teach year after year. Young people and the uneducated must be taught with uniform, settled texts and forms. They are easily confused when taught one way now, and in a year some other way—as though wishing to make improvements. In doing so, the teacher’s efforts and labors are lost.
Pulling It Together
Walking to elementary school, I would stop by Chris’ house so we could walk together. Many mornings I had to wait for him to finish writing the 50 states and their capitals on yellow, lined paper. His parents had him write them every day in order to memorize them, and I suppose to instill the discipline of learning. What is hard to imagine is that they did nothing else. I expect they talked about those places and even took him to visit more than a few state capitals.
I can imagine no better method for a parent to disciple children than by using the catechism. Teach it well by having them write it out, and recite it at meals or while driving to school. Talk about what it means—not just Luther’s explanation but what it means to you. Driving home from worship or at Sunday dinner, remind them of a part of the liturgy or the sermon, and challenge them to tell you what part of the catechism was suggested. Talk about it from your own experience: eg: how the catechism guided you at work.
Likewise, I can think of no better way for a pastor to disciple than to teach people the catechism. Do not be conformed to this present age, when memorization and hard work is frowned upon. But find ways to make your disciples’ efforts fun and rewarding. Take them to the local pizza joint some Sunday afternoon and recite the commandments one commandment at a time around the table. Have them tell you what commandments, petitions, and articles they noticed in your sermon that morning. Then tell them what this means to you.
But do not stop there. Continue teaching the catechism to your disciples—all of them in the pews and homes and hospitals—until their last breath, or yours. Even on that last day, the Creed will be recited, the Lord’s own prayer prayed, and the sacrament of baptism remembered. Christian discipleship, and thus, the catechism is something we live into and with which we die well.
Prayer: Direct me, Lord, to fear, love, and trust you above all things. Amen.
Click here for resources to begin memorizing the Ten Commandments.
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Luther's Small Cat: Learning the Ten Commandments teaches the Ten Commandments according to the pattern of Luther's Small Catechism, and is recommended for the Third Grade Level. Each week focuses on a specific Bible story which illustrates the theme, with additional references from Scripture and Luther's Small Catechism Children's Version. Lessons emphasize a Lutheran understanding of God's Word as both Law and Gospel, calling for faithful obedience and showing the need for Christ's forgiveness and grace.