“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.  This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.  In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands.  And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world.  This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world?  Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” 1 John 5:1-5

This weekend, eight students will be confirmed at Our Redeemer Lutheran in Bloomington, IL and tonight they are being questioned in the sanctuary, where their families, sponsors and a group of elders will listen to them speak about their baptismal vows and what they have learned in confirmation training the past few years.  Back in the day the memory assignment in Mr. Herman Schmeiding’s 6th grade class at St. John’s Lutheran in Seward, NE was to recite the six chief parts of Luther’s Small Catechism…and their meanings.  To get an “A” you couldn’t miss more than 3 words.  Thanks to my mom’s persistence I got an “A”.  There was not as much memory work when my daughters were confirmed 25 years ago and from what I have heard there is even less now.  

These Haitian children from Chincheron and their parents have had a lot of memory work throughout their lives and can recite Bible verses, hymns, creeds, prayers and much from the Catechism.  On Sunday morning at the Lutheran church in Chincheron, following the announcements at the beginning of the service the members of the Sunday school classes, from small kids to adults, rise when it is their turn and in unison recite the core Bible verse that they have learned that morning.  I have never been in a North American church where that takes place and that seems to be a shame…especially when you hear most of the rural Lutheran congregations in Haiti going through their entire service from memory.

While living in Haiti I frequently began my evening prayers by reciting the Ten Commandments, the Apostles Creed and the Lord’s prayer with a loud voice to drown out the vodou priest and his evening evil entertainment; before my ACTS prayer and tell his evil spirits the name of my God and know that they trembled with fear before Him.  One evening I decided to profess my faith through the Nicene Creed and to my dismay, stumbled and could not remember it word for word.  It really bothered me and on my next trip back to Florida I purchased a Catechism from Gloria Dei Lutheran in Davie and spent evenings reading through what I had memorized back in the day.  Have you read your catechism recently?

Dear Heavenly Father, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown.  Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.  Amen. 

May God be with you…Jay