Paying attention to the fine print

How do Christians believe? What do Christians believe? When do Christians believe? Difficult questions? Not exactly. Actually, the respective answers are quite simple: genuinely, everything, and always! That’s the theory in any event. But as is so often the case things can be different in practice.

There are four Sundays in the month of September. They are all connected by one overall theme: “Elements of faith”. The individual services will explore the topics of prayer, the sermon, professing the Lord, and offering.


The most important prayer that unites all Christians is the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus Himself gifted this prayer to mankind. In addition there are fixed liturgical prayers, personal prayers, communal prayers, prayers of supplication, and prayers of thanksgiving. There are prayers raised in thought, prayers set to song, silent prayers, and public prayers. We can pray anywhere and at any time. A day without prayer is like a morning without a sunrise. For Christians prayer is a matter of course. What is so good about prayer? It is a dialogue with our Creator, with the Saviour, and it focuses our concentration on what is essential, important, and eternal. Prayer can be learned. A good teacher of prayer is the Holy Spirit. Even in moments when people do not know how to pray, the Holy Spirit comes to their aid.

The sermon

The focus of the sermon on the second Sunday in September is the gospel as it is attested in the Bible. It is good to know why we believe, whom we believe, and what we believe. Particularly in today’s environment, where there are so many different doctrines and worldviews, a healthy portion of self-reflection is required. Those who want to believe God’s word must also believe that it is God’s word they are hearing. Peter expressed this in a more friendly and eloquent manner: “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”

First we need to have the desire to learn, and then we will experience the friendliness of the Lord. This is a matter of give and take. So it is that the message of God’s love for mankind becomes a gift for life.

Professing the Lord

Anyone who wants to get into heaven should say so! Our profession to Jesus Christ is not a game of hide-and-seek or blind-man’s-bluff. Nor is it a grope in the dark or a slalom ride. True followers of the Lord profess their faith in Him through their words and deeds. So far, so good, but

  • this also applies to our normal everyday life. Even in daily living, Christians exhibit their faith, not only in word, but also through a lifestyle governed by the standards of the gospel. They stand by their conviction of faith and readily testify of it to those around them whenever suitable occasions arise.
  • this is not always easy, and it requires courage. Even Peter denied the Lord for fear of man. In the face of persecution by a radical majority, disadvantage in professional life, or pressure from various groups, it can certainly take a good deal of steadfastness to profess the Lord.

But it is all worthwhile in the end, because those who confess the Lord before men, He will also confess before His Father in heaven. This too is part of the content of the gospel.


The last Sunday in September is devoted to the subject of offering. The people of Israel brought their God daily offerings of many kinds and nuances, and on the most diverse of occasions. And there are still occasions enough to do so today. Offering is part and parcel of the Christian practice of faith. Such offerings today are characterised by

  • gratitude. His children owe Him everything they have.
  • charity. Christians help those in need and also share their spiritual treasure with others.
  • self-denial. They conscientiously endeavour to overcome sin, and do away with anything that could stand in the way of their fellowship with Christ.
  • forgiveness. Accusations, reproaches, and any form of retaliation against others are and remain a thorn in the flesh of the faithful Christian.

The essential thing with all offerings is the right attitude. God graciously accepts our offerings when they come from the heart.

Photo: Takacs Szabolcs -

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Peter Johanning
Divine service