Both of my boys are a part of Fairfield’s Junior Bible Quiz team. We practice at home by asking each other questions about our faith and responding with set answers. This practice reminds me of the way many branches of the church over the centuries have developed catechisms – sets of questions and answers that were intended to be learned/memorized.
Some of you may have used the Westminster Catechism during confirmation. Deb and I, having spent some time with our Dutch reformed brothers and sisters in Michigan, are reminded of the Heidelberg Catechism.
The Heidelberg Catechism is part of our Book of Confessions and was first brought to American shores in 1609. I have never memorized the Heidelberg myself, but I have been around it enough that the opening has stuck with me. The catechism starts like this:
Q. What is your only comfort, in life and in death? A. That I belong – body and soul, in life and in death– not to myself, but to my faithful savior Jesus Christ…
There has always been something about these opening lines that offers peace and reassurance. The rest of the answer goes on to talk about God’s steadfast love, our salvation in Jesus Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit giving us a guarantee of life with God now and forever. I have always found great comfort in these opening words. All that we are, were and will be –body and soul, in life and in death– belongs to the one who loves us enough to give his life for us. All that we are– body and soul, whatever may come– is in the hands of God.
In a couple of weeks we will begin a church-wide study inspired by the Heidelberg Catechism called Body and Soul. Steve in I will be using this study as the basis for the Lenten sermon series. Additionally, there will be small groups meeting throughout Lent for study and fellowship. I hope that you will be inspired and comforted by the sermon series on the Heidelberg Catechism and that you are able to take part in one of the small groups.