Faithfully teaching the Word of God
How do we learn and live the Christian life? That a private Christian school teaches the faith, in addition to the core disciplines of reading, writing and arithmetic as well as other academic subjects, comes as no surprise. However, at Peace Lutheran Academy, catechesis is central to our understanding of learning and living the faith. Catechesis is much more than instruction in Christian doctrine. Catechesis grows out of Jesus’ Great Commission to make disciples, baptizing them in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded
you” (Matthew 28:18-20).
Catechesis is the very preaching of repentance and the forgiveness of sins, which leads to and flows from baptism. It is the art of applying Law and Gospel to the lives of sinners, of handing down the language of faith to the baptized, of teaching Christians to receive Christ’s gifts in true faith and to live in love toward their neighbors. All this and more is meant by Jesus’ words, “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.”
Part of the Christian’s life has a “hidden” component: faith and the Holy Spirit in the hearts of people. Then again, part of the Christian’s life has very “concrete” realities and contours in this world. There is a real Word or language—the language of the Scriptures, of Law and Gospel, of repentance and faith, of liturgy and prayer, of Catechism and Creed. There is a real washing with water that creates Christians, bestows forgiveness, and has daily expression in the Christian’s life. There is a real Supper of bread and wine in which the baptized receive the saving body and blood of Christ. There is a real thing called the Christian life. It is lived in the real world by flesh-and-blood sinners who have been called to faith in Christ. In this life, Christians worship and confess, pray and suffer, transact business, marry, raise children, and build homes. They receive God’s gifts in the Divine Service, they live in love in the vocations to which God has called them, and they die in the certainty of salvation and eternal life in Christ.
The Christian life, rooted in faith, is not about abstractions or ideas only. Christian faith is a real faith, which is fed and nurtured through real external Word and sacraments in real places of worship. It is lived out in the real world where there is real sin and real sorrow, but real forgiveness and consolation through the Gospel of our dear Lord Jesus Christ. This understanding governs all catechetical instruction, worship, and prayer in Peace Lutheran Academy.
Foremost in the process of catechesis is the involvement of parents in the catechization of their children. This requires the catechization of parents, so that they understand the Divine Service and the Church’s liturgy, so that they understand how to teach their children to listen to the Word of God, how to pray the catechism in the home, how to practice confession and absolution within the family, and how to live their vocations in the world.
Listening to Bible stories, praying the Catechism or the liturgy, and singing the hymns of the Church is a part of daily life in the Academy. With the basis of the Word of God and the Christian confession, children grow in the Christian faith and life through the integration of that faith into the real world: our society and culture. Children learn the faith by doing those things which will be a part of their Christian life as long as they live.