June 25–Presentation of the Augsburg Confession

“I will speak of your statues before kings

and will not be put to shame”

(Psalm 119:46)

The above passage is found at the start of the Augsburg Confession.  On June 25, 1530, the leaders of the Lutheran Reformation assembled in the city of Augsburg, Germany.  They had gathered before the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, to publicly declare what they believe on the basis of the Holy Scriptures.  It may seem strange that such a declaration of the Christian faith in the center of 16th century Europe.  And yet, a clear confession of the Gospel was desperately needed.

For those of you who are reading this here in Europe, you know well the influence of the Christian faith on this continent.  The large, beautiful churches and cathedrals testify to dedication of former rulers and generations who lived here.  For anyone who has studied the history of the Christian church and the history of Lutheranism, living in Europe is a constant reminder of our Christian history.

In 1530, many of the churches we can see today were already present on the landscape. Many of them were already centuries old when the Diet of Augsburg convened.  And yet, our forefathers in the Lutheran faith, gathered before the Holy Roman Emperor to defend their faith.  Just as a military fights to defend its country, God also calls upon Christians to defend what they believe in a world that is often hostile to the Gospel.  The only way to defend the Christian faith is with the source of that faith–the Bible.

If you have never read the Augsburg Confession, it is a worthwhile read for any Lutheran who wants to better understand their faith and the basis for what the Lutheran Church teaches.  We do not view the Augsburg Confession, or any of the Lutheran Confessions, as being equal to Scripture.  Instead, we see them as a clear exposition of what we believe about God; about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the work of the Holy Spirit, and our relationship with the Triune God whom we worship.  The central focus of the Augsburg Confession is the same as the central focus of the Bible:  Jesus Christ and the salvation he earned by his suffering and death.  At the center of our faith is the fact that we are sinners who deserve God’s condemnation and in Christ we are forgiven completely by the sacrifice he gave for our souls.  Paul reminds us of this fact in Romans 3:23-24, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Keeping this focus on Christ may seem easy, but it is hard for us as sinners to do.  We easily put our own ambitions, goals, and preferences above the pure message of the Gospel.  We can even begin to use the Gospel to further our own goals instead of conforming our ambitions to the goals of the Gospel.  It has happened throughout the centuries and it happens in our day as well.

We must always remain humble as God’s people and see how easily we stray.  We need daily reminders of our sins and of how Christ suffered the punishments for our sins in our place if we are to remain true to the Gospel and the Christian faith.  There is only one way to do this:  by letting the Word of Christ dwell richly within us.  As we celebrate the anniversary of the presentation of the Augsburg Confession, I would encourage anyone reading this newsletter to read the Augsburg Confession and all the Lutheran Confessions.  More than that, however, I would encourage all of us to read the Holy Scriptures.  It is the ever-flowing source of water welling up to eternal life. (John 4:14)

The reformers alive in 1530 were focused on the Gospel and its message of salvation.  This is evident in the confession they presented day in June so long ago.  We must be just as bold and determined to maintain the pure Gospel in our hearts and in our churches as they were for, we too must one day leave this life.  The faith that is ours through the Gospel is what connects us to Christ and his salvation, and our connection to our Savior is what will bring us to heaven one day.

May God grant all of us the humility to see our need for the Gospel and the courage to boldly proclaim it, just as our forefathers in the faith have done.

In Christ,

Pastor Weiss

“Also they teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ’s sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins.  This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight.  Rom. 3 and 4.”

(Augsburg Confession, Article IV: of Justification, Concordia Triglotta)

European Catechism Class

Our final Catechism class for WELS children living in Europe was on Sunday, April 28.  One student from our class was confirmed on Easter Sunday in Heidelberg, Germany.  A second student will be confirmed in Spain in the near future.

As we look forward to starting Catechism class again this fall, I would ask those interested in having their children attend class contact me as soon as possible at [email protected] to plan ahead.  An official start date will be established in the near future, but having a general number of who will be in the class and where they live is very helpful.

In Christ,

Pastor Weiss

Counseling for Military Through Christian Family Solutions

Living overseas while serving in the military can bring many challenges.  Having someone to talk with about those challenges can sometimes make all of the difference.  For spiritual matters the European Chaplain is always available to listen, to talk, and to support the WELS military here in Europe.  Sometimes, however, the challenges faced by the military require those specifically trained in counseling for particular areas of life.

Christian Family Solutions offers free short-term counseling through its Member Assistance Program (MAP) for WELS military member serving in Europe.  For more information on Christian Family Solutions, please visit their website: https://christianfamilysolutions.org/

If you feel you would benefit through from such counseling and would like to be connected through the Member Assistance Program, please contact Pastor Weiss.

Worship Opportunities

In between the regular weekend schedule of worship services in Germany and Switzerland, Pastor Weiss is visiting other areas of Europe to reach as many WELS military members as possible.  Regular visits are planned to Italy, Spain, and Belgium.  If you are traveling to these areas and would like to connect with other WELS members for fellowship and worship, please contact Pastor Weiss and he will keep you up to date on what areas are being served and when worship is taking place.

Worship Schedule for June 2024

  • July 5-6:  Rota, Spain
  • July 14: Wicker (1100) Ramstein (1500)
  • July 18:  Munich (1830)
  • July 20:  Vilseck/Rose Barracks (1100)
  • July 21:  Zurich, Switzerland (1100)
  • July 28, 2024: Wicker (1100) Ramstein (1500)

Supporting the WELS European Chaplaincy

If you are interested in supporting the ministry here in Europe, there is an online option for you to give offerings that will directly support the European Chaplaincy.  Please go to this link if you are interested in making a donation: WELS European Chaplaincy Donation Page

If you are only able to give offerings through a European account with an IBAN, please contact Pastor Weiss at [email protected] for instructions on how this can be done.

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