From the Word: He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, until it was all leavened.” (Matthew 13:31)
From the Confessions: The Large Catechism, Introduction
If they demonstrate such diligence, then I promise them, and they will see, that they will bear fruit, and that God will make them excellent men. In due time, they will acknowledge that the longer and the more they study the Catechism, the less they know of it and the more they have to learn. Only then, hungry and thirsty, will they truly relish what they cannot now endure, because they are presently full of it and bloated. To this end may God grant his grace! Amen.
Pulling It Together: When Luther was praised for the great work he had accomplished, he returned the praise to God. He replied, “I did nothing; the Word did everything.” So it is with the kingdom, or at least that little part that we perceive: our own church. We think it grows because of programs, or an exceptionally talented pastor, or the architecture, or some other business that makes us imagine we had something to do with it. And so it is with ourselves. We think we are mature because we sit on a committee, or have perfect attendance, or do some other work in the congregation.
Now, all of these are fine things. Youth, children, and senior activities, a hard-working pastor, lovely stained glass and a high steeple, serving in the sacristy or on the Council, and actually going to worship, are all pluses. But they fall outside the parentheses where the formula produces the real work. If these things are all we have, we are self-satisfied and full of ourselves.
It is the leavening agent of the Holy Spirit working through the Word that produces kingdom growth. Be conscientious enough to spend at least some time in the Catechism each day. You might also be so industrious that you read your Bible even more (perhaps reading a daily lectionary), sang a hymn, and prayed for your family. Then, toward the end of life, you could echo Luther, admitting that the Word did everything.
Prayer: Revive me, Father, through the inspiration of your Spirit in the Word, for Christ’s sake. Amen.
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Hymns and Spiritual Songs from The North is a compilation of Nordic hymns. In the spirit of Martin Luther, such a hymn is usually a meditation or sermon on a Biblical text that grows out of the text for a Sunday. Sometimes it is long and slow, even mournful, giving singers the possibility of meditating on God's Word in their own context. Less often it is joyful, but it is always filled with longing and hope. We can imagine the grandma, during long dark winters, sitting by the fire, spinning or knitting as she sang stanza after stanza of an old favorite hymn or spiritual song, teaching her grandchildren to sing along with her. When they learned to lisp those words with her, they were learning how Scripture could be used to meet the deepest sorrows and the greatest joys of life.