Wednesday School/Confirmation Class began today. We have two classes divided by grade. 3rd-5th grades are taught by Dawn N. 6th-8th grades are taught by me.
These are my students: Louisa, Whitney, Shane, Matthew, Brieley, and Jake.
We begin with a general gathering and evening devotion using Compline or Vespers, singing the hymns they memorize for Sunday School and for Wednesday School. At each of these general worship sessions we go through an entire section of Luther's Small Catechism in responsive reading. I select a section that we will repeat for about 5 weeks. This helps the kids greatly in their memorization and recall of the Small Catechism.
After devotion we go to our two separate classes. The focus of the 3rd through 5th grade classes is to get them to know the Small Catechism so well that when they reach my Confirmation Class they don't have to memorize it but can recite it without any problem. That's a basic requirement for entrance into Confirmation Class. The lower level lessons focus on memorizing each Commandment, Article, Petition, etc. and showing the student where these come from in the Bible through Bible lessons, and having the kids memorize hymn verses where these parts of the Catechism are applied to them in worship.
The upper level, the Confirmation Class, goes into exploring and learning each aspect of the Catechism and where the Bible teaches these things, how they are taught in Luther's Large Catechism, how they are applied through the proper distinction between Law and Gospel (Using "God's No and God's Yes" the condensed version of Walther's "Proper Distinction"), and how the liturgies we use keep them focused in these central articles of the Christian faith. This last goal is accomplished by reading through each of the worship services we use and learning where those parts of the worship services are drawn from Scripture and why they are arranged the way they are.
The whole goal of these classes is to enable the student to know enough and understand enough so that he or she may make the judgment as to whether or not he or she is ready to take up self-examination for the Lord's Supper and become a communicant member of our congregations. We do not want us or our children to fall under God's judgment against those who cannot examine themselves. (I Cor. 11)
Now, consider all that we put ourselves through before we allow ourselves to go to the Lord's Supper. It's ironic that we will occasionally have guests who will be offended that we have closed communion. The guests come with their own preconceived notions of what Communion means, they don't care to ask what Scripture says, and they think we're too harsh or unfriendly for not communing them.
We're not being unfriendly. We are loving them. If we have no idea what faith it is they hold we don't want them to incur God's wrath by abusing the Supper. That's why we work so long and hard with ourselves and our own children. Out of love for them, for God, and out of respect for God's own judgment we desire to prevent harm and sin.
For more information on Closed Communion click this link.
So today's class began with a random examination on the parts of the Catechism. After 20 minutes of going through the Small Catechism we went to our class table and started the new lesson, learning the hymn, and delving into Scripture on the topic of Prayer.
The three new students were a bit taken back by the amount of memorization I assigned. The second and third year students told them that this was a light load for this week. I don't know if that helped the new students much. We'll see how they do.