Sunday, June 25, 2017

Mark's thoughts: Understanding "What does such baptizing with water indicate?"



In the Small Catechism’s Fourth Question about the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, Martin Luther asks: "What does such baptizing with water indicate?" (Was bedeut den solch Wassertäuffen?). He goes on to answer the question by saying:

It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

As he does again and again, Luther then grounds his answer in the Scriptures by asking the follow up question, “Where is this written?” and answering, "St. Paul writes in Romans chapter six: 'We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.'" [Romans 6:4]

During my time at the seminary and early years as a pastor, I considered this to be one of the most puzzling questions in the Small Catechism.  The reason is that the verse Luther cites, along with its entire context, does not support his answer exegetically.  Luther talks about drowning the Old Adam through daily contrition and repentance.  But in Rom 6:1-6 the apostle Paul says:

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

Where Luther talks about the Old Adam, repentance and contrition in relation to baptism, Paul is talking about how baptism is the reason that Christians don’t sin.  That’s the point that he sets up with his rhetorical question in 6:1-2, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”  Christians can’t because we have died to sin (6:2), and then Paul brings the Romans back to what he assumes they too know: this happened as they shared in Christ’s death through baptism (6:3).

Christians have shared in Christ’s death through baptism.  Paul begins 6:4 by saying, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father ….” The reader expects the next move to be that they will also share in Jesus’ resurrection. But instead, the apostle says, “…we too might walk in newness of life.”  This “newness of life” is what Paul describes elsewhere as the saving reality of being “in Christ.”  Yet in this context the idea of “walking in newness of life” certainly includes how Christians live.  Paul finally makes the expected connection in 6:5 when he adds: “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” Here we begin to see that for Paul resurrection and new life in Christ (including how we live) are linked.  The reason will become explicit in 8:11 – the connection is the Holy Spirit.

Because of this Paul can say in 6:6, “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” Freedom from sin – the ability to avoid sin - is the point Paul drives home in 6:7-15.  In fact Paul says in 6:10-13:

For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.

Luther’s repentance and contrition are nowhere to be found in 6:4 or the broader context, and the text talks about burial, not drowning.  As Peters concedes: “Everything in the Small Catechism concentrates on the well-known phrase about how the old man is drowned daily and how the new man arises again each day. One must acknowledge that spiritual insights are implicit in the citation of Rom 6:4, which only later Luther will accentuate in a significant way” (Albrecht Peters, Commentary on Luther’s Catechisms: Baptism and Lord’s Supper, 107).

It was Jonathan Trigg’s wonderful book Baptism in the Theology of Martin Luther that finally provided the answer for me.  He writes:

The significatio of baptism is predicated upon the nature of the sign of baptism- why has God chosen this sign to be joined with the word in preference to all others?  In what does its appropriateness consist?  Why does the water of baptism and the manner of its administration have to say about life under the covenant of baptism? (pg. 93; emphasis his)

Trigg pointed to Luther’s preference for submersion (pg. 93; ftnt. 142) and noted: “There are two parts to the sign of baptism. The baptisand is plunged beneath the water (at least symbolically) and is raised up from it” (pg. 93).

Luther’s question,“What does such baptizing with water indicate?” (Was bedeut den solch Wassertäuffen?), is in fact an invitation to reflect on the manner in which water is applied to the individual in his day and the way this illustrates a specific truth about Baptism.  Luther’s question and answer are based on the way the ritual act was done.  They are not directly related to the text of Rom 6:4 and the exegesis of this verse.
 
It is clear that during the fourteenth century infusion (pouring water on the infant) began to overtake immersion in the western Church.  However, accounts of sixteenth century Lutheran baptismal practice vary, and most likely this reflects the reality that practice itself varied.  Graff indicates that Luther and Bugenhagen wanted submersion and that some Church Orders of the sixteenth  century followed them in this (Paul Graff, Geschichte der Auflösung der alten gottesdientstlichen Formen in der evangelischen Kirche Deutschlands 1:303).  He adds that many Church Orders only speak about “Baptism” and leave whether immersion or pouring is used up to the decision of the pastor baptizing (1:304). Strodach notes this diversity and adds that, in addition there was “superfusio, i.e., holding the naked child over the font and pouring water over him profusely” (LW 53:100).  Rietschel acknowledges Luther’s preference for immersion but adds that most often, as in Wittenberg, the superfusio over the naked child was customary, while in other places the water was poured over the head (Rietschel/Graff, Lehrbruch Der Liturgik, 564).  Rietschel goes on to point to the depiction of baptism in the Cranach Wittenberg altar piece as evidence for the practice of superfusio in Wittenberg.


However, there can be no doubt about the baptismal practice that provides the conceptual framework for the Fourth Question in the Small Catechism.  Luther’s Baptismal Booklet provides the direction: “At this point he shall take the child and immerse it in the baptismal font and say….” (Kolb/Wengert, 375) (Da nehme er das Kind und tauche es in die Taufe und spreche….”; BSLK 540).  "Tauchen" is regularly translated as “immerse” (Kolb/Wengert, 375) or “dip” (LW 53:100). 
 
Immersion as the means by which the water of baptism was applied held an important place in Luther’s thought from the beginning of the Reformation.  In the 1519 “The Holy and Blessed Sacrament of Baptism” he wrote: 

Although in many places it is no longer customary to thrust and dip infants into the font, but only with the hand to pour the baptismal water upon them out of the font, nevertheless the former is what should be done. It would be proper, according to the meaning of the word Taufe, that the infant, or whoever is to be baptized, should be put in and sunk completely into the water and then drawn out again.  For even in the German tongue the word Taufe comes undoubtedly from the word tief [deep] and means that what is baptized is sunk deeply into the water.  This usage is also demanded by the significance of baptism itself. For baptism, as we shall hear, signifies that the old man and the sinful birth of flesh and blood are to be wholly drowned by the grace of God. We should therefore do justice to its meaning and make baptism a true and complete sign of the thing it signifies. (LW 35:29)

In “The Babylonian Captivity of the Church” (1520) Luther states:

The second part of baptism is the sign or sacrament, which is that immersion in water from which it derives its name, for the Greek baptize means ‘I immerse,’ and baptisma means ‘immersion.’  For, as has been said, along with the divine promises signs have also been given to picture that which the words signify, or as they now say, that which the sacrament ‘effectively signifies.’  We shall see how much truth there is in this. (LW 36:64)

In these texts Luther asserts that the application of water through immersion visually depicts a truth about baptism.  In particular, the “The Holy and Blessed Sacrament of Baptism” describes this as a drowning of the old man.  In the ritual action, the body is plunged under water which corresponds to the fact that in baptism the old man is drowned by God’s grace.

Luther develops this thought further to include not only the immersion under the water but also the raising out of the water in the Large Catechism ( IV.64-67):

Finally, we must also know what baptism signifies and why God ordained precisely this sign and external ceremony for the sacrament by which we are first received into the Christian community. [65] This act or ceremony consists of  being dipped into the water, which covers us completely, and being drawn out again. These two parts, being dipped under the water and emerging from it, point to the power and effect of baptism, which is nothing else than the slaying of the old Adam and the resurrection of the new creature, both of which must continue in us our whole life long. Thus a Christian life is nothing else than a daily baptism, begun once and continuing ever after. For we must keep at it without ceasing, always purging whatever pertains to the old Adam, so that whatever belongs to the new creature may come forth. [66] What is the old creature? It is what is born in us from Adam, irascible, spiteful, envious, unchaste, greedy, lazy, proud—yes—and unbelieving; it is beset with all vices and by nature has nothing good in it. [67] Now, when we enter Christ’s kingdom, this corruption must daily decrease so that the longer we live the more gentle, patient, and meek we become, and the more we break away from greed, hatred, envy, and pride. (Kolb/Wengert, 464-465)

The language of LC IV.65 explicitly indicates that Luther has focused upon the ritual action in which the body descends beneath the water and then emerges back out of it:

This act or ceremony consists of being dipped into the water which covers us completely, and being drawn out again (daß  man uns in Wasser senket, das über uns hergehet, und darnach wieder erauszeucht). These two parts, being dipped under the water and emerging from it (unter das Wasser sinken und wieder erauskommen)….”  

Then Luther describes how this ritual action points, “to the power and effect of baptism, which is nothing else than the slaying of the old Adam and the resurrection of the new creature, both of which must continue in us our whole life long” (LC IV.65).  The plunging into water and emerging from it signifies the killing of the old Adam which occurs as the Christians seeks to restrain and purge the old Adam, so that also the new man created in Baptism determines how the Christian lives:

Thus a Christian life is nothing else than a daily baptism, begun once and continuing ever after. For we must keep at it without ceasing, always purging whatever pertains to the old Adam, so that whatever belongs to the new creature may come forth. (LC IV.65-66)

Now, when we enter Christ’s kingdom, this corruption must daily decrease so that the longer we live the more gentle, patient, and meek we become, and the more we break away from greed, hatred, envy, and pride. This is the right use of baptism among Christians, signified by baptizing with water. Where this does not take place but rather the old creature is given free rein and continually grows stronger, baptism is not being used but resisted. (LC IV. 67-68)

The old creature therefore follows unchecked the inclinations of its nature if not restrained and suppressed by the power of baptism. On the other hand, when we become Christians, the old creature daily decreases until finally destroyed. This is what it means truly to plunge into baptism and daily to come forth again. So the external sign has been appointed not only so that it may work powerfully on us but also so that it may point to something. (LC IV.71-73)

Finally Luther describes this living in Baptism, signified by the going under the water and coming up again, as repentance:

Here you see that baptism, both by its power and by its signification, comprehends also the third sacrament, formerly called penance, which is really nothing else than baptism. What is repentance but an earnest attack on the old creature and an entering into a new life? If you live in repentance, therefore, you are walking in baptism, which not only announces this new life but also produces, begins, and exercises it. In baptism we are given the grace, Spirit, and strength to suppress the old creature so that the new may come forth and grow strong. (LC IV.74-76)

This background makes it clear that when the Fourth Question about Baptism asks, “What does such baptizing with water indicate?” (Was bedeut den solch Wassertäuffen?), the question takes up the manner in which water is applied.  In addition, the specific manner which Luther assumes in his answer is submersion.  This is confirmed by the language of “drowned and die (soll ersäuft werdern und sterben) with all sins and evil desires.”  The ritual act of placing the body under water signifies drowning and death, and within the baptismal life it is carried out by “daily contrition and repentance.”  Likewise the drawing of the body up out of the water signifies “that a new man should daily emerge and arise (erauskommen und auferstehen) to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.”
Luther establishes these conceptual correlations:

   Under the water       Contrition and repentance       Old man drowned and dies

   Out of the water       Live in righteousness/purity     New man emerge and arise

 If this is not understood, Luther’s use of Rom 6:4 is quite puzzling.  Exegetically, the verse is not speaking about “daily contrition and repentance” nor does it refer to drowning.  Instead, when we understand that “such baptizing with water” refers to the ritual act by which water is applied, it frees us to recognize that Luther uses the verse in order to draw upon a network of interconnected theological truths about Baptism – truths which can be linked to Rom 6:4.

I maintain that the Fourth Question on the Sacrament of Baptism is one of the most difficult to explain in the Small Catechism because it assumes a ritual practice that is no longer ours.  More than that, it is a practice that in our setting calls to mind the false belief and demands of Baptists. In addition, rather than a tight exegetical link to Rom 6:4, it uses a more diffuse theological interpretation.  I explain the question to my catechumens in the following manner:

In the first question of the Small Catechism (“What is Baptism?”) we learned that Holy Baptism is the application of water “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  During the history of the Church, this has been done in several different ways.  We have learned that one of earliest practices was immersion as the body was plunged under the water and then brought back up to the surface.  This practice continued in many areas of the Church up unto the time of the Reformation when the Small Catechism was written.  Both the Small and Large Catechisms use this method of applying water in order to explain the meaning Holy Baptism has for our daily lives in the light of Romans 6.

Just as in baptism done by immersion the body is plunged down under the water, so by daily contrition and repentance we are to drown the Old Adam in us.  And just as in this method of baptism the body is brought back up out of the water, so a new man daily emerges to live before God according to His will through the gift of Baptism.  As the Large Catechism describes this: “These two parts, being dipped under the water and emerging from it, point to the power and effect of baptism, which is nothing else than the slaying of the old Adam and the resurrection of a new creature, both of which must continue in us our whole life long.  Thus a Christian life is nothing else than a daily baptism, begun once and continuing ever after.  For we must keep at it without ceasing, always purging whatever pertains to the old Adam, so that whatever belongs to the new creature may come forth” (4.65).



Presentation of the Augsburg Confession



Today is the anniversary of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession.  In late 1517 when Martin Luther initiated the events that would result in the Reformation, he had no idea regarding what was about to take place.  Luther’s Ninety-five Theses were a call for academic discussion – not for thoroughgoing reformation of the Church.  However the discussions and debates that ensued prompted Luther to further study.  This process continued to reveal the extent to which the Church’s faulty practice was based upon theology which was not true to God’s Word.



Luther was excommunicated by Pope Leo X in 1520.  He was then summoned to appear before the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V at the Diet of Worms in 1521.  There Luther refused to recant and in the Edict of Worms Luther was declared to be “a manifest heretic.”  The edict declared that no one was to give assistance to Luther, but instead they were to take him prisoner and deliver him to the emperor.  The reading and distribution of Luther’s writings was forbidden.  It was Charles’ intention to deliver Luther over to Pope Leo X for the purpose of burning Luther at the stake.



In 1526 at the Diet of Speyer, an ambiguous edict was passed in which the German princes promised to carry out the Edict of Worms according to their own consciences.  This provided the setting in which Elector John continued his support of the Reformation in Saxony.  However, at the Diet of Speyer in 1529 Charles V corrected the ambiguity of the1526 edict and forbade expansion of the Reformation.  This led the German princes to issue a formal appeal or “protest” (it is from this event that the term “Protestant” arose). 



However, Charles V found himself limited in his ability to act against princes and areas that supported the Reformation.  In 1529 the Turkish army had laid siege to Vienna before being turned back.  Charles faced this threat from the east, and he also was engaged in a struggle with France.  He needed the German part of his empire to be united in order to assist him.  He also had a genuine concern about the condition of the Church in the areas that he ruled.

           

Charles V called for the Lutheran princes and cities to explain their religious reforms at an imperial diet that was to meet in the southern German city of Augsburg in 1530.  Luther was not able to travel to the diet because of edict passed against him in 1521and the Lutherans were led by his colleague, Phillip Melanchthon.  When the Lutherans arrived they found that a Roman Catholic opponent, John Eck, had produced a work entitled Four Hundred Four Propositions.  This work contained quotes from Luther and Melanchthon and mixed them in with heretical statements in the attempt to give the impression that the Lutherans supported most heresies known to the Church.



In the face of this, Melanchthon and the Lutherans realized that they would need to do more than just explain their reforms.  They needed to demonstrate that the theology they taught was true to the catholic (universal) tradition of the Church.  They need to state the biblical truth while condemning the false teachings that the Roman Catholics also rejected.



Melanchthon was able to draw upon some previous doctrinal articles that the Lutherans had written.  He produced the Augsburg Confession which has twenty one articles on doctrinal topics and seven articles on reform efforts.  Latin and German editions of the confession were prepared.  The Latin text was presented to Charles V and the German edition was read aloud to the diet on June 25, 1530.  

           

At Augsburg, the Lutherans confessed the truth of the Gospel in the face of a very real threat to their possessions and lives.  We continue to share in this confession as the Augsburg Confession is the foundational statement of what the Lutheran Church believes and teaches.  In the Augsburg Confession we confess the biblical and catholic (universal) faith before the world.



Collect of the Day:

Lord God, heavenly Father, You preserved the teaching of the apostolic Church through the confession of the true faith at Augsburg.  Continue to cast the bright beams of Your light upon Your Church that we, being instructed by the doctrine of the blessed apostles, may walk in the light of Your truth and finally attain to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one  God, now and forever.






Sermon for the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession - Mt 10:26-33



                                                                                  Presentation of Augsburg Confession
                                                                                  Mt 10:26-33
                                                                                  6/25/17

            If I asked you what the birthday of the United States was, I am sure that you would have no problem answering the question.  We all know that the birthday of our nation will be celebrated in just a little over a week, on July 4th.  That was the day that the members of the Continental congress who had gathered in Philadelphia signed the Declaration of Independence.
            However, prior to today, if I had asked you what the birthday of the Evangelical Lutheran church was, I doubt that many of you would have been able to answer correctly.  Many of you might have guessed Reformation Day, October 31 – the day that we associate with Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 theses.  That would be a good guess.  However, the truth of the matter is that in this act even Luther himself did not realize what was about to take place, and as he tells us in his later writings, at this time the gospel had not yet fully come clear.
            No, if we want to find the birthday of the Lutheran church, we need to look at today, June 25, for on this date in 1530 in Augsburg Germany, the Lutheran confessors presented the Augsburg Confession to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V.  On this day they presented the confession of faith that is the foundational confession of the Lutheran Church.
            There is a great similarity between the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the presentation of the Augsburg Confession.  Each event involved great personal risk for those who took part.  The Americans who signed the Declaration of Independence were committing treason.  As John Adams told his fellow delegates: “We must hang together, or we will hang apart.” 
The confessors at Augsburg faced no less a threat.  They were advocating a doctrine that the Roman Church had declared in Luther to be heretical, and Charles V was the instrument that the Roman Church intended to use in the repression of this teaching.  The laymen who presented the Augsburg Confession were risking their life and property – a fact that became clear seventeen years later when Charles V attacked and conquered them.
            In the Gospel lesson for today, Jesus is sending out the twelve apostles.  He had instructed them: “And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”  They were to proclaim that in Jesus the saving action of God’s reign – his kingdom – had broken into this fallen world in order to free people from sin, death and the devil. This was God’s doing, and people were called to faith in Jesus.  Faith – trust in Christ – is what Matthew’s Gospel sets forth as the way that people receive this blessing of God’s saving reign.
            This was big news! This was good news!  And it had to be shared.  It had to be confessed.  Jesus says in our text, “What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.”  Throughout chapter ten, our Lord tells the apostles that they will meet opposition.  But he tells them not to fear – not even the one threatens to kill their body.  Instead, Jesus told them to “fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” They were to put God first and trust in him because he cared about them – after all he even knew the number of hairs on their head!
            Our Lord’s words were spoken to the twelve apostles on a particular occasion.  However, as we get to the second half of chapter ten we note that the language becomes more general in nature.  It becomes clear that Jesus is saying things that are going to apply to all Christians who share and confess the faith.
            This joy about the Gospel and the willingness to share and confess it before the world – even at personal risk – is what shaped the event at Augsburg on June 25, 1530.  The confessors at Augsburg declared the freedom of the Gospel.  The Augsburg Confession declared that salvation is not a matter of our works, but instead it is a gift from God when it stated about the Lutheran churches, “Likewise, they teach that human beings cannot be justified before God by their own powers, merits, or works.  But they are justified as a gift on account of Christ through faith when they believe that they are received into grace and that sins are forgiven on account of Christ.” 
            In the Augsburg Confession we find the declaration that through the Gospel we receive the free gift of salvation.  It declares that that we are justified – put right with God – by God’s grace; on account of Christ’s death and resurrection; and through faith in Christ. 
And then we also learn in the Augsburg Confession that God has not left the delivery of this gift to chance.  Instead, he has provided the Means of Grace: the Word, Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution and the Lord’s Supper.  And he has also provided the Office of the Holy ministry that administers these Means of Grace in the midst of God’s people.  As the Augsburg Confession states, “To obtain such faith God instituted the office of preaching, giving the gospel and the sacraments.  Through these, as through means, he gives the Holy Spirit who produces faith, where and when he wills, in those who hear the Gospel.”
            Yet it was not all good news.  In fact the second article was about as negative as it can get.  There it says about original sin: “Furthermore, it is taught among us that since the fall of Adam, all human beings who are born in the natural way are conceived and born in sin. This means that from birth they are full of evil lust and inclination and cannot by nature possess true fear of God and true faith in God. Moreover, this same innate disease and original sin is truly sin and condemns to God’s eternal wrath all who are not in turn born anew through baptism and the Holy Spirit.”
            In confessing the truth of God’s Word, the Augsburg Confession destroyed the medieval notion that we had to make the first move toward God, or that our doing was in any way part of the reason we are justified and saved.  This overturned a massive system built on these assumptions.  It threatened wealth and power. There would be opposition.
            But the confessors at Augsburg were shaped by the biblical faith. And that included the words we find at the end of our text: “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” They were going to confess, because to confess the doctrine of the Augsburg Confession was to confess Jesus Christ. And they were going to confess Christ even before powerful men like the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.
            Today, the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession, causes us to face the question: “Do we still believe that it is the truth that must be confessed before all people?”  I’m not asking if its ok for us “to have it on the books.”  I am asking whether we believe that it is the truth, and that contrary understanding is error.  The confessors at Augsburg left no doubt about where they stood on the issue.  They not only confessed the truth, they also explicitly condemned those things that were contrary to the truth.
            To do so it is to invite disdain from many.  This response reflects the post-modern age we live in – the time of “tolerance” which rejects all absolute truth claims.  Yet this attitude is absolutely deadly to the church.  As Evangelical Lutherans, the only thing that we have is the truth of God’s Word – it is our only reason for existence as a church.  And if we lose sight of this fact – if we marginalize the truth claims of the Augsburg Confession – then we become just another social club.  When we lose sight of the truth that we confess as Lutherans, we lose our very existence as a church.
Therefore, today, June 25, the birthday of the Lutheran Church is an invitation to return to the truth that we confess.  It is an occasion to review what we confess as Lutherans and ask ourselves whether we still believe that it is the truth.  Remember, those who confessed the Augsburg Confession were not theologians and pastors. They were lay men who cared about these things; who knew about these things; who confessed these things at risk to life and property.  Would we do the same? 
We have copies of the Augsburg Confession on our tract rack at the back of the nave and also at the door on the east end of the building. Take a copy and read it – if we run out we will order more.  Read it so that you know what this full truth is. And then ask yourself the honest question about whether you still believe this is the truth.
Each of us must face that question on our own, for no one can confess the truth for us.  The Augsburg Confession say that we are justified by grace through faith.  This faith is created and sustained by the Means of Grace.  The Means of Grace are administered by Christ through his Office of the Holy Ministry and those who are fed by the Means of Grace are the Church, for as the Augsburg Confession states, the Church “is the assembly of all believers among whom the gospel is purely preached and the holy sacraments are administered according to the Gospel. 
Justification by grace through faith; the Means of Grace; the Office of the Holy Ministry and the Church – this is the faith that we confess in the Augsburg Confession.  This is the truth of God’s Word.  This is the truth the Evangelical Lutheran Church has confessed since its beginning at Augsburg.  And on this day when the confessors at Augsburg took their stand for the truth of Christ, we are invited to again confess the truth of God’s Word; the truth of the Augsburg Confess; the truth of the Evangelical Lutheran church.
            On this June 25 may each of us find this truth to be our own confession.  And may our Lord sustain each one of us in this one holy, catholic and apostolic faith until the day of his return – about which Jesus said: “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven.”
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