Many older Lutherans fondly tell horror stories of having their memorization of Luther's Small Catechism tested in front of the entire congregation. Despite the fear it has sometimes engendered, the Small Catechism has been an important tool of teaching and handing down the faith for as long as there have been Lutherans.
The Small Catechism reflects the long history of catechesis, in which people coming into the faith entered into a period of instruction in preparation for baptism. Luther altered the order of traditional catechisms, shaping his to reflect his theology. It begins with the Ten Commandments and moves on to the Apostles' Creed, which tells who God is and what God has done and is doing to save us. It then looks to the Lord's Prayer, which provides a model of our lives as Christians as we call on and depend on God.
The Small Catechism is a faith tool that provides the sort of words Paul wrote of in Romans 10:17: "Faith comes from what is heard." So, simple memorization, as a task to be completed for its own sake, is not how catechism is supposed to work. Its question-and-answer form provides teachers and learners with a spoken faith language meant to be absorbed and used in the same way any new language is learned. It will be most valuable when presented often and with variety. Even better, it will be most valuable when revisited, not just during confirmation years but throughout a lifetime, in the same way we revisit a good friend who has a way of reminding us who we are.
Share a low from the past week.
Parents/Guardians be sure to share as well!
Name one song you know by heart or have memorized. Why do you remember this song?
3 For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
In what ways is that a more effective way to share the good news of Jesus than having people read about it?
In what ways is it less effective?
What is the value of having one person tell the story to another, who then tells another, and so on?
(Name), you are a Child of God!