By Megan Mertz
ST. LOUIS (July 21, 2013) — Some 3,500 voting and advisory delegates, other pastors, church workers, lay people, staff and guests gathered last night for the opening Divine Service of the 65th Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) at the America’s Center Convention Complex.
The Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, president of the LCMS, preached on the convention theme, “Baptized for This Moment,” based on Acts 2:38–39. Harrison reminded those in attendance that “those first-century Jews crucified Christ in your name, in your stead.” Yet through Baptism, people receive God’s pledge of the “washing of regeneration” (Titus 3:5).
“If you are not a hardboiled sinner just like the rest of us, then you might as well leave right now because Jesus is not for you,” Harrison said. “Jesus Himself said, you see, ‘I came not for the righteous who have no need to repent, but for sinners.’ Baptized sinners, that’s what you are.”
“Let’s go on about our business here baptized,” he said to the delegates. “Together we’re in the water, sink or swim.”
“Now let’s get about the business of getting the world wet. It’s all in the water. We’re baptized for this moment,” he continued.
Christ Lutheran Church, Freeburg, Ill., was the host congregation for the service. Its pastor, the Rev. Bruce Keseman, served as presiding minister. The Council of Presidents of the LCMS, presidents and bishops of LCMS partner churches and local pastors from the LCMS Southern Illinois and Missouri districts assisted with the distribution of Holy Communion.
Music for the opening service was provided by area musicians and singers. More than 100 members from local LCMS churches came together to form the choir. Thirty instrumentalists made up the orchestra, and the handbell choir from St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Des Peres, Mo., also provided additional music.
“It’s a joy to serve in this kind of context, around the liturgy and hymns,” said Dr. Mark Bender, conductor for the opening service and minister of music at St. Paul’s, Des Peres.
The 65th Regular Convention of the LCMS is meeting July 20-25.