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The role of the Lutheran Confessions

The name Lutheran usually identifies what a congregation believes, teaches, and confesses. Basic Christian honesty and integrity means that no person or congregation should aim to deceive anyone with this word Lutheran in the identity of the congregation.

So what does this word Lutheran mean?

The standard for explaining the teachings and purposes of a Lutheran congregation can be found in the Book of Concord. In 1580, this book was published to give a true and unadulterated statement of the teachings of the Lutheran church. There are several documents that are included in this book and they all are intended to be true expositions of the Word of God. The books include: the three Ecumenical Creeds (the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed), the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, the Large Catechism of Luther, the Small Catechism of Luther, and the Formula of Concord.

These books provide a definition for anyone that seeks to know what it means to be Lutheran. They are not the Word of God, but they do provide a correct interpretation of the Word of God. They do not add to or subtract from the validity or purposes of the Word of God.

As important as Martin Luther was for the Reformation of the church in the 16th Century, Lutheran churches do not follow Martin Luther. We follow the Word of God. The confessions norm our reading of the Word.  The confessions provide a frame to interpret the Word of God for our own times and places. So therefore, in this manner, we believe the good news of Jesus Christ is at the center of proclamation and theological reflection. As believers in Jesus, we are always aware that are witness of Christ's love to other believers and those outside the faith takes place in the presence of and through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Lutherans, in a wide variety of situations, find the documents of our confessions helpful to define what Lutherans mean when they speak of Christ's church and its teaching. We do not have a state authority defining the church. We do not have a charismatic leader receiving visions from God defining our church. We do not have liturgy serve as the framework for our identity. The framework and foundation for the confession of the Christian faith in our times remains centered on the good news of Jesus Christ.

You can read the Book of Concord online: http://bookofconcord.org

Concordia Publishing House prints a wonderful readers edition that includes helpful notes and historical introductions.

The standard English academic edition is edited by Kolb and Wengert.


Posted by Evan Gaertner

8th Commandment - Reputation - Online Activity

Catechism Moment

8th Commandment 

You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about your neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.

Truthfully speaking about other people is not license to be uncharitable. As Christians we should not use our speech, tweets, Facebook shares, and instagram comments to degrade and denigrate the reputation of others.

When Christians speak or post online about another person, our words need to be trustworthy and respectful of others. When falsehoods and half-truths are shared about people or worldly issues, we make ourselves less believable when we seek to share the truth of the good news of the kingdom of heaven.

Slandering other people by rushing to judgment, complaining about them, or spreading rumors is contrary to the Eighth Commandment. There are better things to talk about besides the faults and possible misdeeds of other people. Building one another up in love and deed does not happen by pushing other people down.

Recently, there was an older white man that assaulted some teenagers on a bike path. The police did not have a suspect and asked for help. The initial request for help listed the wrong date of the assault. People tried to match online fitness app mapping data with the time and date of the assault. Social vigilantism set in and a man was falsely accused online with the crime. New York Magazine published an interesting article, "What It's Like to Get Doxed for Taking a Bike Ride," about how this man's reputation online was abused because people rushed to judgment and falsely accused him of the crime.

The article provides a real world example about how spreading falsehoods and rushing to judgment is hard to roll back. Lies and deceit spread like toxic ooze in a community. Christians must be honor the truth and seek to be charitable to other people.

Posted by Evan Gaertner

What will the fall look like at our school?

Dear Families of Our Shepherd Lutheran School, 

Thank you so much for the many ways you have jumped in to support your child’s education at home with this new learning. We know this hasn’t been easy. Without your partnership, we would not have transitioned so quickly to E- learning, and your perseverance has allowed us to end the school year strong. Thank you. The faculty and staff thank God for you and lift you up in prayer. Thank you for your prayers for us as well. They have meant so very much to us.

What will schools look like in the fall? What will Our Shepherd look like for the 2020-2021 School Year? This is the question we are all seeking to answer. Our priority is to bring the learning community together in person, in part or in whole, given any restrictions that may be necessary at the time. The MI-District, LCMS Schools, in conjunction with our school leaders, are planning for a range of potential scenarios (in-person, remote, or a combination of the two). While it is too early to precisely predict what school will look like for us in the fall, we are committed to prioritizing as many in-school days as possible for as many students as possible. Whatever the circumstances may be, the foundational values of education remain the same. 

First and foremost, Our Shepherd is a community of faith, where we gather, nurture and serve because Jesus loves. We know how much your children are missing their friends and teachers, just as our teachers are missing their students. We will strive to offer in-person experiences to the extent possible. 

One of the many strengths of Our Shepherd Lutheran School is our partnership with you, the parents, desiring and providing best-in-class education for the children entrusted to our care like no other school. We are working with school leaders to design a more cohesive structure for our instructional approach this fall. Our Shepherd desires to be nimble and responsive, able to meet the demands of change without hesitation, unencumbered by unnecessary structures and limits. We will continue to adapt as necessary to begin next year on time. We are personal and desire to be able to meet the needs of individual students and families. We look forward to surveying parents soon so that we can better understand your needs for the fall. 

We are pursuing a plan to maximize student learning and leadership while prioritizing the health and safety of all. Some of the plans we will be considering to implement into practice are the following: 

  • Testing: Ensuring the health and safety of students and staff through screening procedures.
  • Sanitation and cleaning equipment and processes: Strengthening ongoing procedures, purchasing new cleaning tools, and instituting daily and scheduled disinfecting regimens.
  • PPE: Using masks during classes and in public gathering spaces.
  • Limiting visitors on campus: Limiting access to campus for visitors and parents.
  • Capacity limits in classrooms to allow for social distancing: Utilizing unused classrooms at our campuses that have availability and where space allows, developing strategic classroom seating configurations, and repurposing spaces such as the gym, MPR , lobby area, and gym hallway. 

 It is still too early to know what our exact circumstances will be when we start school in the fall. However, we are actively preparing several scenarios to get school underway on August 24th. We will continue to update you as plans progress according to developing federal and state orders.

Finally, most importantly, we are committed to sharing the Gospel in any and all circumstances. Our Shepherd gathers, nurtures and serves because Jesus loves. This is the message we share with each other and the world around us. It is the foundation of why we exist: Christ Crucified. We rest in His promises and go forward in life trusting His promises to always be with us.
In a word, Our Shepherd Lutheran School and Church love you and your entire family, and we always will. This is our commitment to you. This is our promise. This is our call. 

Over the coming weeks and months, we will continue to update you with the progress we are making toward defining what next year looks like. All ideas are being considered. 

Jesus said to his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives, do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” JN 14: 27

Peace In Christ,

Janet McLoughlin

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