The opening hymn for this preparatory service for the departed was Hymn 134, ‘Come in, O Lord, come in!’
1 July 2020

Freedom from the bondage of sin, sight to the spiritually blind, comfort and hope to the crestfallen, love to the believing and faithful. These were the keynotes of Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider’s service to the congregation of Karlsruhe on 28th June 2020. The service was also broadcasted to the district church of South Germany via YouTube, satellite and telephone.

Experiencing an unusually sparse congregation, the Chief Apostle explained the essence of opening our hearts to receive the full measure of heavenly gifts at every divine service, celebrated with or without Holy Communion. “Those who come in faith and humility will be satisfied. There is fullness for every sermon. Let us be humble and confide in the Lord and take all that is offered to us” he said.

The salvation of the Lord. The sermon was based on Psalm 146: 7b-8, ‘The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; the Lord raises those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous.’

The Chief Apostle explained the bible verse as “the description of the salvation of God”. The life, words and deeds of our Lord Jesus also personified and embodied the bible text. Today, the text word speaks in the same spirit and truth.

The Lord gives freedom. Man, after the disobedience to God, became a sinner and was bound in sin. However, the Lord liberated man through Jesus for the living and the departed. He said: “Jesus looks to everyone as an individual to help make you free.” This can only happen if we believe, trust and follow Jesus as well as accept the holy sacraments”. He continued: “Finally, we shall also experience eternal freedom with God in His presence.”

The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. Jesus has also redeemed us from our spiritual blindness by revealing to us:
* His true mission and task, that is to free us from sin and be one with God. We are blind if we do not understand the mission of Jesus and of being a Christian.
* Our own weaknesses, “…the Holy Spirit has opened our eyes to look up to Jesus as the example and model” for our lives.
* The need to love our neighbour as ourselves. “Jesus has given the love of God in our hearts and the Holy Spirit works to grow this love” said the Leader.

The Lord raises those who are bowed down. The Lord, through the Spirit, gives comfort, hope and confidence to those in the beyond and also on earth. God also lifts up the crestfallen through the fellowship in the congregation. “We can help the living through our words, deeds and prayers. For the departed, we can intercede through our prayers.”

The Lord loves the righteous. The Lord loves all, however only those who believe in Jesus will be freed from sin and have the benefit of His love. “Let us seek for the benefit of this grace and desire for our brothers and sisters in the beyond to also experience His love” he concluded.  

The divine service was supported by District Apostle Michael Ehrich. During the service, Apostle Bansbach was retired and Bishop Martin Rheinberger was ordained Apostle.