What is the apostolic comfort and encouragement for the faithful faced by death? Contrasted with the burial and funeral is the resurrection. The decay is contrasted with a new, glorious and perfected body, which will be quite extra-terrestrial – more agile than the fleetest bird with a life untainted by illness or death and a glory fit for heaven, the company of hosts and the Lord of all. We need to hear this especially if we have to distance ourselves from our deceased. Although we love them so much, we can’t keep them in our midst. They are dead and need to be buried – dust to dust, ashes to ashes. However these divine Words communicated by the apostle are big, glorious – and very comforting and encouraging. Even as we bury our dead, it’s as if we bid them good night for the time being. They are at rest. Peace. That is why we no longer mourn like those without hope. Rather we comfort each other with these wholesome words of St. Paul to the Thessalonians. Yes, comfort those, who are mourning. Don’t leave them alone. Rather at every divine service and especially at the celebration of the holy Lord’s Supper we should reiterate the comforting hope of the resurrection of the dead to life eternal. Amen.
Eternal, holy God and Father! We are passing away in this time. Our life is like nothing before you. Yet your eternity stands big and earnest over us. We tremble at your huge might and power, o Lord. Your kind hand gave our loved ones. Under your hand they now rest – far from sin and strife. Thank you for all that you gave to them in your grace and for all that you gave us through them. Silence all hurt and sorrow, heal our wounds that are bleeding from the affliction of death and strengthen our hope and faith in the resurrection and the eternal life with you. Amen. (Arper-Zillessen)
There I shall dwell forever, No more a parting guest, With all thy blood-bought children In everlasting rest, The pilgrim toils forgotten, The pilgrim conflicts o’er, All earthly griefs behind me, Eternal joys before. (Paul Gerhard, 1686 tr Jane Borthwick, 1858 TLH 586)
This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for Saturday after the twenty fifth Sunday after the high holiday of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 396 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu! (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and published in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.