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Hausvater: /HAUS-fah-ter/
noun (German)
1. Housefather.
2. Spiritually responsible head of household, including the housefather as assisted by the housemother.
>> Example: "As the Hausvater should teach it [Christian doctrine] to the entire family ..."
(Martin Luther, Small Catechism, 1529)

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Confirmation Memories: A 30-Year Retrospective

“March 18, 19, and 23.” I can still hear my pastor’s voice saying those dates. I first heard him do so in August 1987. He was referring to March 1989, when two years of confirmation classes would culminate in my public examination (March 18), my confirmation (Palm Sunday, March 19), and my first communion (Maundy Thursday, March 23).

His full sentence was something of a scare tactic, but we all understood that he meant it tongue-in-cheek: “March 18, 19, and 23—nothing but death will prevent you from being present in church on March 18, 19, and 23, 1989.” He began the first few confirmation classes with that solemn announcement. We were to understand that confirmation should take priority over life’s other matters.

A Peculiar Approach

I don’t suppose every pastor begins confirmation class that same way. Pastor H. had a peculiar approach. What else was unique? He parsed the “beatitudes” as “Be—Attitudes,” the attitudes that we should be. He wrote “baptizo” on the blackboard in Greek letters, telling us about the meaning of “baptism.” It means “wash,” as in washing our sins away (for example, when we fail to “be” the right “attitude”!)

And then there was the slogan that became a song. It began simply as a statement, with no hint of any melody. “Do not be afraid to let your shadow darken the doorstep of your church each Sunday.” Week after week the slogan grew, until finally it became a song, to the tune of “From All That Dwell Below the Skies.” Three decades later, I’m not sure I recall the first two lines accurately, but the second half still rings true in my ears:

Please let your shadow come this way

And darken the church door each Sunday!

Alleluia! Alleluia!

At Grace serv’c’s are at eight and ten fifteen

With Sunday Schoo-ool in between!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

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The Heart of the Church: A Confirmation Sermon

Confirmands, today is an exciting day. For the last several years we’ve been talking about one central thing: faith in Christ. Faith in Christ isn’t about simply believing that Jesus is God or that He exists. Even demons believe that.

Martin Luther wrote about faith in the preface to his commentary on the book of Romans. Listen to what he says about faith:

Faith is a work of God in us, which changes us and brings us to birth anew from God. It kills the old Adam, makes us completely different people in heart, mind, senses, and all our powers, and brings the Holy Spirit with it. What a living, creative, active powerful thing is faith! It is impossible that faith ever stop doing good… Faith is a living, unshakable confidence in God’s grace; it is so certain, that someone would die a thousand times for it. This kind of trust in and knowledge of God’s grace makes a person joyful, confident, and happy with regard to God and all creatures. This is what the Holy Spirit does by faith. Through faith, a person will do good to everyone without coercion, willingly and happily; he will serve everyone, suffer everything for the love and praise of God, who has shown him such grace.

That’s faith. God grants it. And in His Church He nourishes it. So today we’re going to talk about the Church and how God nourishes that faith which He grants. So I imagine that most Christians know that what we do as the Church in worship matters, but I suspect many today don’t know why it matters. In other words, if they were asked, “Why do you go to church?” or “Why do you do what you do in church?” or “Why is worship important?” they’d struggle to come up with an answer.

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Thank God for Mr. Anonymous!

His Example Brought Me Closer to Jesus

I don’t recall his name. I can’t even remember what he looked like. But I will never forget what he did. His example changed my life forever. Through me, that young man influenced hundreds, even thousands of others. I wish I could thank him. We all should thank God for him.

I was fifteen years old at the time. My older brother and I had traveled to Colorado Springs, a town at the base of Pike’s Peak. There, in an oldish-looking boarding house, we spent a couple of weeks at the Summit Ministries youth camp. Knowledgeable presenters instructed us in how to preserve our Christian worldview against the assaults of ungodly philosophies. Some of their lessons I still remember, but the person who left the most far-reaching legacy was my roommate—the roommate who disappeared each morning.

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