The Lord of life and death yesterday called Bishop J.M. Ramashapa out of this life into eternity. We commend his family and loved ones into the tender mercies and care of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and pray that this will serve us to remember that we too have to die so that we attain wisdom. May the triune God be gracious to the one, whom he calls next, so that he too may be ready to go.
At the Seminary we sang the following song of Christian trust and hope in God’s forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the flesh and the eternal life:
1. Though in midst of life we be, Snares of death surround us; Where shall we for succor flee, Lest our foes confound us? To Thee alone, our Savior. We mourn our grievous sin which hath Stirr’d the fire of Thy fierce wrath. Holy and gracious God! Holy and mighty God! Holy and allmerciful Savior! Thou eternal God! Save us, Lord, from sinking In the deep and bitter flood. Kyrie eleison.
2. Whilst in midst of death we be, Hell’s grim jaws o’ertake us; Who from such distress will free. Who secure will make us? Thou only, Lord, canst do it! It moves Thy tender heart to see Our great sin and misery. Holy and gracious God! Holy and mighty God! Holy and allmerciful Savior! Thou eternal God! Let not hell dismay us With its deep and burning flood. Kyrie eleison.
3. Into hell’s fierce agony Sin doth headlong drive us: Where shall we for succor flee, Who, O, who will hide us? Thou only, blessed Saviour. Thy precious blood was shed to win Peace and pardon for our sin. Holy and gracious God! Holy and mighty God! Holy and allmerciful Savior! Let us not, we pray, From the true faith’s comfort Fall in our last need away. Kyrie eleison.
Words: v.1 Medieval sequence, vs 2,3 Martin Luther, 1524. Translated by Richard Massie, 1854, alt.
Music: ‘Mitten wir im Leben Sind’ Medieval sequence altered by Martin Luther. Found in Walter’s Geistliche Gesangbüchlein, 1524.
Setting: Erythraeus, 1608.
copyright: public domain. This score is a part of the Open Hymnal Project, 2009 Revision.
And prayed Psalm 90: Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. 2 Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. 3 You turn men back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, O sons of men.” 4 For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. 5 You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning– 6 though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered. 7 We are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation. 8 You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. 9 All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan. 10 The length of our days is seventy years– or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. 11 Who knows the power of your anger? For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you. 12 Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. 13 Relent, O LORD! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants. 14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. 15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble. 16 May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children. 17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us– yes, establish the work of our hands. (NIV)
Bishop J.M. Ramashapa was the executive director of the Lutheran Community in Southern Africa and served the LCSA well.