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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Have You Built a Family Altar?

Every family has an altar—the questions are: To which god? and, How often is it used?

After the Flood, Noah built and altar to the Lord (Genesis 8:20). So did Abraham (Genesis 12:7), Isaac (Genesis 26:25), and Jacob (Genesis 33:20). Moses (Exodus 17:15), Joshua (Joshua 8:30), Gideon (Judges 6:24), Samuel (1 Samuel 7:17), and David (2 Samuel 24:25) built altars to the Lord as well. In the Books of 1 and 2 Kings, and in the writings of the prophets who ministered during that time, God repeatedly commanded that altars to false gods be torn down. After times of idolatry, the altars to the true God had to be rebuilt.

Have you torn down the altars in your home devoted to false gods? Have you built an altar to the true God? Would a visitor to your home recognize that you have a family altar? Will your children’s memories of the childhood you now are building for them be centered around the family altar?

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Constructing a Family Altar Board



The photo above is our “Family Altar Board” hung directly above our piano.

What is it?

Simply, it is a 2' by 3' white board which we have drawn on with both permanent and dry-erase markers. All of the boxes and labels are permanent, as is the cyclical church calendar. Then, each week, we update the pertinent information with a dry-erase marker. In the center, there is an erasable message or a simple picture drawn representing something in the church year or from our devotion.

There are 4 basic areas:

  1. Divine Service Summary (top left)
  2. Church Calendar (top right)
  3. Christian Virtue (bottom left)
  4. Home Devotions (bottom right)

How do we use it?

It's a very simple idea which has grown into a powerful family tradition.

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The Divine Service, Part 11: Receiving the Lord’s Supper

In the previous article of this series we reviewed the “Christian Questions with Their Answers” that Martin Luther composed for Christians preparing to receive the Lord’s Supper. In this article we consider two matters of Christian liberty that worshipers may choose to practice in their reception of the Supper:

  1. the sign of the cross
  2. the response “Amen”

The Sign of the Cross

Upon receiving the body and blood of Christ it is appropriate for worshipers to cross themselves in the Name of the Triune God. Some ask, though,“Isn’t that a Roman Catholic thing?” The short answer is “no.” Many Roman Catholics cross themselves during mass, but the sign of the cross belongs to the universal catholic (Christian) church. During the Reformation, Lutherans retained the sign of the cross as a matter of Christian liberty and piety.

But why?

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