Martin Luther celebrated Lent, the 40-day journey from ashes to resurrection. But he had a deep concern about Lent: That those who participated in the annual practice might be misguided in its meaning and effect. As a solution, he suggested this course of action in a sermon on March 25, 1529:
“This exhortation ought not only to move us older ones, but also the young and the children. Therefore you parents ought to instruct and educate them in the doctrine of the Lord: the 10 Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Sacraments. Such children ought also to be admitted to the Table that they may be partakers [of the Lord’s Supper].”1
It is hard not to notice that Luther saw Lent as an opportunity for familial instruction in the faith.
And while one does not necessarily need a family in order to make Lent an opportunity for further education, those with children should certainly consider the value!
Luther’s 1529 sermon came in tandem with the publication of one of Luther’s (and the Reformation’s) greatest works, the Small Catechism. Luther intended that it be utilized during Lent—as well as other seasons of the year—in helping ground Christ-followers deeply in their faith. Wrote Luther in the Preface to the Small Catechism,
“For you must not rely upon it that the young people will learn and retain these things from the sermon alone. When these parts have been well learned, you may, as a supplement and to fortify them, lay before them also some psalms or hymns, which have been composed on these parts, and thus lead the young into the Scriptures, and make daily progress therein.”2
Though you may certainly wish to spend Lent teaching yourself and/or your family the finer points of Luther’s Small Catechism (this may be especially meaningful if you are Lutheran), the greater point should not be missed:Lent is a perfect opportunity to study some of the Bible's most essential sections. Click To Tweet
In that regard, Luther followed the practice of the Early Church by focusing his teaching on the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, the Lord’s Supper, and Baptism.
Perhaps during Lent, so should we.
PRACTICE: Map out a small schedule of important ideas, stories, or doctrines to focus on during Lent. Many choose one subject per week on which to focus.