St. Paul's constitution lists six duties of members of the parish. They are rather succinct:
1. Conform their lives to their baptismal vow.
2. Attend services faithfully and frequently partake of Holy Communion.
3. Engage in person private Bible Study.
4. Be active in personal evangelism.
5. Contribute willingly and according to his God-given ability toward the maintenance of church and school and the work of the church at large.
6. Bring up children "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph 6:4) and to this end, besides teaching them the Christian faith at home, take advantage of all the Christian educational agencies for the children, so that all children may be properly guided in the Christian faith.
We reviewed these briefly last night in our elders meeting, and it occurred to me how wonderfully easy #3 has become with both the Treasury of Daily Prayer and The Lutheran Study Bible at hand. What riches God places before us in His Word!
The hardest is the first: that's the daily death of the old Adam and the daily rising of the new self, created in Christ. That we learn to live our lives more and more from the new self and continually reject and put to death the desires of the old self. It's a never ending task for us - and we'll never master the art of it so long as we live in this flesh, though we keep trying by the Holy Spirit's power and DO see some growth and progress.
Number two is also rather easy: how hard is it to come to Church and allow God to do His work in us through the preaching of His Gospel and the reception of His Sacrament? And through it we can certainly grow in glorifying the Blessed Trinity for the unspeakable kindness and love He shows us.
Number four gets some solid help in The Lutheran Study Bible. If you've not found it yet, check out the helps for witnessing found on page 1425 that uses the Apostles' Creed as a simple tool for growing in the art of sharing the faith.
Number five is positively addictive. The more you discover the blessing in giving, the more it becomes something you simply WANT to shape your life and to do. There is something incredibly empowering in refusing to let money and fear have dominion and in giving toward the Lord's work and mission.
Number six is addressed not only by using the Sunday School, the Vacation Bible School, and the Parish Day School and Preschool. It is above all addressed in that first assumption: in the home. Treasury again is your friend. A way to have a special time in the Word every day with your little ones. How I wish I had had it available when my kids were wee ones!
Anywho, I thought the list from our Constitution was a pretty good prescription for growth and maturation in the faith (dying to live, receiving God's Divine Service to us and glorifying Him, daily into the Word, watchful for confessing Christ's name, giving in alms and to support the Church, and providing for the next generation to receive the blessings we enjoy and even more), and I've been mega-impressed at the way our Synod has lately moved to provide solid materials for growth in all these areas. Faithful use of the Treasury and The Lutheran Study Bible will indeed yield a rich harvest for the Kingdom!