Monday, April 16, 2012

The Last Time

As I write this, the time is approaching midnight which begins Monday, April 16th. But for now, it's still Sunday, April 15th, and I'm writing about today. Today was a special day at my church, St. Paul Lutheran Church in Hamel, Illinois. Our pastor, William Weedon, received a call about two months ago to be the Director of Worship for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and the Chaplain at the LCMS International Center. He accepted that call, and today was his last Sunday as our senior pastor. Unlike many of the members of our church, I am not one of the "natives."  I transferred my membership to St. Paul about five years ago.  Nevertheless, I am among the privileged who have heard the Word of God taught by someone who exudes pure joy each and every time he reminds us who we are:  People loved by God.

In our Bible study this morning I was thinking, "This is the last time we will gather to hear Pastor teach our Bible study." Is it proper to give a Pastor a standing ovation at the end of a Bible study? Proper or not, we did. He always packed 'em in. In today's study he talked about the rich man and Lazarus. His first question was "What do we know about the rich man?" Well, we know that he was in hell. We know that he was thirsty. We know that he still didn't "get it." We know that he still wanted to be served. None of those were the answer he was looking for; a common occurrence.  After finally realizing we weren't going to deliver the goods, Pastor exclaimed, "HE WAS ALONE!"  And then he said this:  "Unbelievers are damned alone.  Christians are saved together."

After the study it was up the stairs to the Divine Service.  I must confess, throughout the service, I kept returning to the thought, "That's the last time..."

That's the last time I'll hear him say "Please stand" after the ringing of the bell;
That's the last time I'll hear him say "...and in the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins...";
That's the last time I'll hear his homily as my pastor;
That's the last time he will bring the Sacrament to me as my pastor;
And finally this: "The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace."


The last time?  No.  Thanks be to God there will never be a last time.  Nothing will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.  We are saved together.

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