We’re going to do something a bit different as we start 2016. For the month of January, we’re going to study, and even memorize, a catechism question and answer.
Now I realize that the word “catechism” might not fill you with nervous excitement and adrenaline-infused anticipation, but it’s worth noting that in the 16th and 17th centuries, catechisms were all the rage in the cool churches. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but they were popular tools in churches, and for good reason. Life is confusing and hard. Especially in the most bewildering moments, people need clear and certain truths that can orient, and at times even anchor the soul. That’s what a well-written catechism can offer.
And the Heidelberg Catechism is a good one. Its first question and answer cuts through all the nonsense and gets us to the very heart of the gospel: “What is your one comfort in life and in death?” it asks. We need solace and hope in this complicated life. Where do we find it? The answer is worth quoting in full:
That I am not my own, but belong, body and soul, in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.
Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.
These are truths worth pondering deeply. Because they are so Scripture-filled, because they can help us in our time of need, these are truths worth committing to memory.
And so we will. I invite you—and your friends or family with you—to make memorizing these words a month-long project. Put them on a poster and hang them on a wall so that people walk by them regularly. Work on them at dinner time. Make a game out of memorizing them. Join me, and the rest of Trinity, in seeking to make these truths our own for 2016.