By Katie Schuermann
ST. LOUIS (July 24, 2013) — Delegates were invited to meditate on the text of J.S. Bach’s “Come, Sweet Death” during the Musical Offertory of the convention’s Commemoration of the Faithful Departed service this afternoon.
“What kind of a person can say, ‘sweet death’?” asked the Rev. William C. Weedon, director of worship for the Synod and chaplain of the LCMS International Center, as he later commented on the service.
“The Christian can say, ‘Hey, come here dog. I know you’re going to eat me and devour me, but you know what? That’s only going to be a service to me. The sin in my flesh is going to be destroyed, and Jesus is going to raise me from the dead. I’m not going to have any sin left. You do me a service, death.’”
The Commemoration of the Faithful Departed service remembered all rostered church workers in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod who have died in the past triennium since the Synod last gathered as a convention.
“We are truly one in Christ with all of those saints of God who have passed away,” Weedon said. “Death has not been able to separate them from the love of God in Christ. In fact, Jesus gave them a life that death could not take from them. That’s what we celebrated and thanked God for today.”
The Rev. Dr. R. Lee Hagan, senior pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Concordia, Mo., preached a homily for the service on God’s raising of an entire valley of dead bones to life, as found in Ezekiel Chapter 37. “Our hope and our promise by which we cling is the Word spoken to those dry bones, ‘You shall live.’ ”
Hagan connected the convention’s theme to that very hope. “ ‘Baptized for This Moment’ also means baptized for the moment to come, the moment of the resurrection on the Last Day, that great and glorious day.”
The Rev. Benjamin Ball of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Hamel, Ill., was liturgist, and Cantor Phillip Magness of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Broken Arrow, Okla., served as organist. Conductor Matthew Janssen and the St. Louis Area Lutheran High School Honors Wind Ensemble led the congregational singing.
The 65th Regular Convention of the LCMS is meeting July 20-25 at the America’s Center Convention Complex under the theme “Baptized for This Moment.” Among convention participants are some 1,200 clergy and lay voting delegates.