1/30/2020 8:54:35 AM
First Things January 29, 2020
The following devotion was written by WELS Pastor Andrew Schroer and appeared on his Facebook page 364 Days of Thanksgiving.
When I got home from church on Sunday, I sat down and turned on my phone. Facebook was blowing up. Kobe Bryant, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, was dead. Bryant, 41, and his daughter Gianna, 13, together with seven other people were killed in a helicopter crash on their way to his daughter’s basketball game near Los Angeles.
Beginning Sunday afternoon and into the night, Kobe’s death dominated the news cycle and social media. Tens of thousands of people posted the same simple phrase on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. RIP Kobe. That’s what we write – that’s what we say when somebody dies, right? RIP. Rest in Peace.
Originally from the Latin requiescat in pace, the initials RIP have been used on tombstones for centuries. The phrase is a prayer or wish that the soul of the person may now rest in peace after death.
The phrase flows from a fear that the person may not rest in peace. Many cultures believe that tormented souls remain here on earth if they have unfinished business or have committed wrongs which do not allow them to rest in peace.
Some Christians believe that after death, souls must go through a time of suffering and purification – paying for their sins – before they can enter the rest and glory of heaven. In fact, many Christians pray for the souls of the dead, asking God to spare them from suffering and to allow their souls to finally rest in peace.
The truth, however, is that, as the writer to the Hebrews tells us, “people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:7). When a person dies, their soul and body separate and the soul goes before God for judgment. Though we all deserve God’s punishment for our failings and fallings in this life, those who die believing in Jesus are forgiven and given the gift of heaven. Those who do not believe in him, however, are condemned to an eternity in the torment of hell (Mark 16:16).
God’s judgment is final. There is no changing places (Luke 16:26). When a person has died, no prayer or wish or request on our part can change their eternal situation. By then it is too late.
Though I understand the love, respect and sorrow expressed when people say or write RIP, there are better ways in which we as Christians can express our condolences.
Some experts believe the phrase RIP can be traced back to another Latin phrase found in the catacombs of early Christians: dormit in pace – literally, “He sleeps in peace.” Instead of a wish or prayer, it is a statement of fact.
Those who die in Christ are now resting from the pains and problems of this world in the glory and happiness of heaven.
I did not know Kobe Bryant personally. Though he experienced embarrassingly public moral failings, he also was a professing Christian. Raised in the Catholic Church, Kobe continued to attend church as an adult and especially turned to God after scandal rocked his career.
Kobe took his daughters to church. There they heard about God’s love and about their Savior Jesus who lived and died for them. I cannot look into his heart, but there is nothing to make me doubt his faith in Jesus.
And that’s why I don’t have to wish or pray that Kobe Bryant rest in peace. It wouldn’t change anything even if I did. What I can do is pray for his family and all who are sad in this hour. What I can do is share with them a simple truth.
All those who die in Christ rest in the peace and happiness of heaven.
Marlon Boettcher passed away on Tuesday. His funeral will be held in church on Saturday, February 8. Visitation will be from 10:00 AM – 12:00, and the funeral will begin at 12:00 noon. Please remember Ann and her family in your prayers.
2020 Budget & Explanation Letter
A copy of the approved 2020 budget and a letter explaining different things in the budget has been prepared for every household. It will be available – in an envelope with your name on it – in the church entryway for several weeks. Please pick up your envelope. Envelopes which have not been picked up will be sent to members via snail mail.
Coffee And Donuts
Coffee and donuts are now be available in the church basement after worship. Please come down, enjoy the treats, and get to know others better.
Monday Worship Services
Weekday worship services are now held on Monday evenings at 6:30 PM. The liturgy is a little shorter and the sermon is what was preached on the previous Sunday.
These Monday worship services will NOT take place during Lent, Holy Week, and the first two Mondays after Easter. The last Monday service before Lent will be on Monday, February 17. They will begin again on Monday, April 27.
We will call for a director for our Early Learning Center on Sunday, February 2 after the worship service.
Lent Is Coming
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 26. Lenten services will be held at 6:30 PM.
Pastor Rieke will preach here at First Lutheran for the first two Wednesdays. After that, other area pastors will preach here while Pastor Rieke preaches at their congregations.
The theme of the Sermons for both Lent and Holy Week will be The Son Of God Goes Forth To War.
Lenten Fellowship Meals
The Altar Guild will be hosting the Ash Wednesday fellowship meal on February 26. We would like to have meals offered each Wednesday by different groups, and ask that you sign up by February 16, so people can make plans to attend. If you would like more information, please contact the church office.
In The Narthex:
- Chapter-A-Day Bible Reading Guides on yellow sheets
- WELS Together Bi-Weekly Newsletters on orange sheets
- Forward In Christ magazine