The Hausvater Project

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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Don’t Ever Stop Teaching God’s Word

The LORD, through Moses, said (Deuteronomy 6:6–7):

And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.

And that, dear friends, is still a responsibility we have today. How do we carry out that responsibility of teaching God’s Word to our children?

We have Sunday School … where we bring our children for instruction in God’s Word, to learn about sin and salvation. Someone else does the teaching, but it is because we have delegated that person to teach our children. It is still our responsibility.

We also teach God’s Word to our children at home. This is where the vast majority of teaching will be done (Sunday School is only one hour per week). At home we teach God’s Word through our family devotions. Do we have them? Do we use our Bibles, our children’s devotion books, our “Meditations” booklets, or some other type of devotions? And do we do this on a regular basis and not just when it’s convenient or we manage to remember?

We also teach God’s Word through our discipline. We can teach our children that just as God disciplines us because he loves us, so also we discipline our children because we love them. We can use those times to speak about Jesus’ forgiveness, not just ours.

And our personal example is just as important as anything else in living God’s Word—how we conduct our lives, what we say, what we do. For example, do we go to Bible class to learn God’s Word after telling our children that it’s important for them to go to Sunday School? (And I’m not just talking about you parents who have children here in Sunday School—what about all you other adults? What sort of example are you setting for all our young people? Are you showing them that once you’re older you’re done with studying God’s Word in that sort of setting?) Furthermore, do we demonstrate forgiveness and understanding toward others or become infuriated and rant and rave when someone does something wrong to us or gets us upset? Do we “put the best construction on everything” as we interpret the actions of someone else? Children, especially young ones, learn more by example than words.

Let’s not treat God’s Word like a fire extinguisher, using it only in times of crisis or emergency. Let’s not treat God’s Word like a relative who only comes around once in a while and for whom we clean the house especially well. Let’s make using and learning God’s Word an everyday thing!

Yes, it is a big responsibility we have in teaching our children God’s life-giving Word. And it’s just as important that we learn God’s Word throughout our entire lives. But remember that “life-giving” aspect of God’s Word—we are not on our own! Only God through his Word gives us the strength, the motivation, the ability to teach his Word—through it he gives life.

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The Divine Service, Part 10: The Preparation

Over the last few months we have journeyed through the Service of the Sacrament and have come to the point of the distribution, but before we discuss the actual reception of the Sacrament, we must take a step back to discuss an oft overlooked part of the Sacrament of the Altar: our necessary preparation to receive Christ’s body and blood. In his Small Catechism Luther discusses the necessary condition to receive the Sacrament:

Fasting and bodily preparation are certainly fine outward training. But that person is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words: “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”

In short, the Sacrament of the Altar is for those who believe the Word concerning the gift given there. For those, then, who believe the Word, Luther provides several helpful questions that Christians may use in their personal preparation for Holy Communion. These questions may be found on page 329 in the Lutheran Service Book or in the “Christian Questions with Their Answers” section in the Small Catechism.

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Standing Right Side Up in an Upside Down World

What remains for God’s people in a world increasingly hostile to Christ and His followers? A world that terms what is neither reproductive nor healthy nor caring as “reproductive health care”? A world that calls the despising of God’s institution of marriage a “diversity” worth celebrating? A world that idolizes tolerance and demonizes truth? A world that brands Christ’s followers as hateful and bigoted? A world that has been doing so for so long that few people seem to know the difference anymore?

Yes, civilization as we once knew it has crumbled to the ground, but God’s Word remains unchanged. The same Word of God by which the early church not only survived but thrived is still ours today. The Bible’s two main teachings—the Law and the Gospel—remain to expose sin as sin and to cover sin with grace. Let us read the Bible all the more earnestly in order that we can clearly distinguish right side up from upside down. Let us reach out in love to a deeply hurting world that needs the same peace with God that we have in Christ Jesus.

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