Member vs. nonmember privileges

God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”  John 4:24 ESV

The reply in the February 2008 Q&A concerning who should receive the privilege of Church rites promotes a “Gospel only – no Law,” attitude toward the local congregation’s relationship to the world and, in so doing, promotes a ministry that contradicts God’s desire for true worship. 

Focusing on funeral services, note 1 of the LSB order states: “The Funeral Service is intended for the burial of those who departed this life in the Christian faith.”    The Collect of the Day begins: “O God of grace and mercy, we give thanks for Your loving-kindness shown to  name   and to all Your servants who, having finished their course in faith, now rest from their labors.”  When the church buries people, we are saying, within the limits of human knowledge, that the departed was a believer in Christ and their soul now rests with Christ.  To conduct public funeral services for people outside the congregation about whose faith we have little or no knowledge is to fail to speak the truth. 

Denying the bereaved a Christian burial for their departed loved one is to speak the Law in a very difficult way, but the alternative is to make our truth meaningless and so reject God’s ordained way of worship.  The Gospel cannot be heard until the Law does it’s work. We cannot love the world unless we are willing to tell the world the truth.  The decisions concerning for whom we should do funerals, conduct weddings and baptize are certainly difficult and often gray but, without a concern for the truth, the church in the end will have nothing to offer the world. 

Reverend David Warner
Sidney, Montana


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