Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance
Something that brought me such joy this last year was our first part of the Learning Lutheran series we did through the fall and winter. These are membership classes, both for those considering membership at Bethany as well as a chance for those who are already members to continue in studying our faith tradition.
When we began, the majority of our class was filled with life-long Lutherans. People who had grown up in the Lutheran church, memorized the Small Catechism (a brief overview created by Martin Luther that shares the basic tenants of the Lutheran faith), and I heard from a lot of people that they weren’t sure what more they needed to know.
But even the lifelong Lutherans attended, and I think they were surprised.
We read the familiar words from the Small Catechism, but instead of just memorizing them or having me explain to the group what Luther was trying to say – we came at Luther’s words with something new.
Each week we read from a part of the Small Catechism, whether it was on the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, or the Apostle’s Creed, and we lifted up one thing we liked about the reading, but also one thing we didn’t like or had a question about.
We began changing the conversation around our faith.
And although I have studied these writings, and these words from Luther have become so ingrained in my own faith, even I found myself wondering with our members about what these words mean for us today, how does Luther come into contact with God’s Word, and how do we interpret his interpretation?
I love questions. And I think part of why I love questions is because I had so many questions about faith when I was young, and no one seemed to be able to hold up my questions, my doubts, or my concerns as being valid. And the age old “we believe this because that’s what Luther said” or “we believe because we just do, that’s just what people do”, this sort of quiet acceptance of our tradition isn’t cutting it our world today.
We are called to share our faith – to share the Good News of Jesus – with those we meet, but without our own experiences of questioning and wrestling with scripture, with our tradition, or with ourselves, how can we articulate our faith in order to share it?
From our experience in the first set of these classes, I am so grateful to those who participated, who asked questions, who experienced this new and different way in which we begin to grow in our faith – even when our faith is seventy years old.
And I am excited that on May 21st we begin our next set of this series, looking at what Luther tells us about Baptism and Communion and how we understand these sacraments in our lives.
I can’t wait!
What are some questions you have had about your faith? Were your questions heard by those you asked? Did you feel like they were valid? What kinds of conversations might you have today with others about scripture, God, or your faith tradition?