What is your only comfort in life and death?
Catechisms have a long history in the church, but have largely slipped out of use in the Church of England. Whilst there is a Catechism in the Book of Common prayer, I suspect we would struggle to provide many of the answers beyond the first question - “what is your name?”. This is a shame, as these questions and answers were designed to provide a firm and solid foundation to our Christian thinking.
Of all the catechisms which emerged over the centuries, the one which is often held most fondly is the Heidelberg Catechism of 1563. Unsurprisingly written in Heidelberg (south-west Germany) it was intended to instruct congregations in the basics of the teachings of the Reformation. It might sound dull, but it has a warmth to its answers which are designed to give comfort in the midst of all sorts of turmoil.
As we read of death rates, economic downturns and riots it seems that question one has a particular relevance to us. So do savour it:
Q. What is your only comfort in life and death?
A. That I am not my own, 1 but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, 2 to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. 3 He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood 4, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. 5 He also preserves me in such a way 6 that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; 7 indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. 8 Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life 9 and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him. 10
1 I Cor. 6:19, 20
2 Rom. 14:7-9.
3 I Cor. 3:23; Tit. 2:14.
4 I Pet. 1:18, 19; I John 1:7; 2:2.
5 John 8:34-36; Heb. 2:14, 15; I John 3:8.
6 John 6:39, 40; 10:27-30; II Thess. 3:3; I Pet. 1:5.
7 Matt. 10:29-31; Luke 21:16-18.
8 Rom. 8:28.
9 Rom. 8:15, 16; II Cor. 1:21, 22; 5:5; Eph. 1:13, 14.
10 Rom. 8:14.