By Katie Schuermann
ST. LOUIS (July 21, 2013) — It’s first things first for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). Pastors, laity, musicians, staff, and voting and advisory delegates of the 65th Regular Convention gathered around the Word of God at the opening session today to pray Matins.
“Matins means morning,” said the Rev. William C. Weedon, director of worship for the Synod and chaplain of the LCMS International Center. “It is the Church’s prayer that begins the day. It is filled with psalmodies, hymns, the reading of Scripture and preaching on that Scripture.”
The Rev. Timothy Scharr, president of the LCMS Southern Illinois District (SID), preacheda Matins sermon on Paul and Silas’ imprisonment as recorded in Acts Chapter 16. “What do an annoyed apostle, an exorcism, rioting, a beating, imprisonment and an earthquake have in common?” Scharr asked those in attendance. “These are the means through which Jesus Christ added to His Church in Europe, Philippi.”
No doubt, such means of growing the Church are not listed in Today’s Business of the synodical convention, but God “…is the God of surprises,” Scharr proclaimed. “The Lord grows His Church where and when He will in those who hear the Gospel.”
Front and center on the dais during Matins were an altar and a crucifix. These visual reminders of Christ and His work for sinners will remain there as the convention continues its business.
“We can very easily forget that this is the Lord’s work that we are gathering to do,” Weedon said. “We can begin to take it over as though it’s ours. This is not ours and, as Pastor Scharr said so beautifully this morning, the Holy Spirit is the One who gives faith where He pleases. We can’t pretend that, in the business of the Church, we are the ones who are doing great things. No, our big job as the people of God is to get out of the way of the Holy Spirit, to speak the Word and let Him do what He wants, when and where He wants, with that Word.”
The Rev. Benjamin Ball of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Hamel, Ill., was liturgist, and Cantor Phillip Magness of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Broken Arrow, Okla., served as organist.
The 65th Regular Convention of the LCMS is meeting July 20-25 at the America’s Center Convention Complex under the theme “Baptized for This Moment.” Among convention participants are 1,174 clergy and lay voting delegates and 312 advisory delegates.