The God of Peace

The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do God’s will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in God’s sight; through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
The final blessing at the conclusion of the Rite of Ordination and the end of a graveside
Committal Service in the Lutheran Church. (Source: Evangelical Lutheran Worship)

I have participated in two events in the life of the church this year more than ever before. The first event has been attending the ordinations of dear colleagues in ministry. In the past six months I have traveled from Grand Forks, ND to Omaha, NE and Watford City, ND to Kerkhoven, MN. The second event is presiding at funerals for brothers and sisters in Christ who have gone before us and now rest forever with the communion of saints. As of August 1, I have presided at twice as many funerals as I did during the entire year of 2010. You may be asking, why I would share these two very different events in the same reflection? Primarily because I don’t think they are all that different anymore.

An ordination lifts the one being ordained to serve in the Ministry of Word and Sacrament. It is not because of what this individual has done, but because of what God has done and is doing in this person and the entire community of faith. Our God of peace is present and active in the celebration of ordination.

At a funeral, we worship together as a community in our time of grief and are reminded that we are never alone in our journey, not in life or in death. It is a time when we remember a dear sister or brother in Christ, offer prayer for God’s comfort, and rejoice in the promise of resurrection that we are given in baptism. Our God of peace is present and active in these times as well.

The cemetery is next to the sanctuary of St. Joseph Lutheran Church in Rosholt, SD.

I received the blessing offered above in a new way while attending an ordination at St. Joseph Lutheran Church near Rosholt, SD. As the Rite of Ordination was taking place, and this blessing was being offered to newly ordained Rev. Sheila Pohl, I glanced out the window of the sanctuary. I was overwhelmed by the view of the cemetery that surrounds this prairie church that was built in 1884. I could feel the presence of the saints that rest in this cemetery as they joined us in celebrating the first ordination ever held in this place of worship.

The blessing of God’s peace is not only for those who grieve while standing at a loved one’s graveside or in the joyful celebration of an ordination. The blessing of God’s peace is for all of us; in times of grief and joy, in places of work and rest, when we are ready to receive it or least expect God to be there. Through our savior Jesus we are joined together with the communion of saints – the living and the dead. Dear saints of God, may God’s peace be with you.


About Bishop Craig Schweitzer

The Rev. Craig Schweitzer, of Bismarck, was elected as bishop of the Western North Dakota Synod on July 17, 2020, in the first-ever digital Synod Assembly. A historic event, Schweitzer is the first bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to be elected in an online assembly. Bishop Craig Schweitzer began serving the Western North Dakota Synod-ELCA on September 1, 2020. He has always seen himself as an easy-going person who seeks to daily discover anew how God is present in his life and the world in which he lives and serves. Prior to service in the Office of Bishop of the Western North Dakota Synod, Bishop Craig served at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Bismarck, ND as Music and Worship Minister (lay staff from 2002-2010), Associate Pastor (2010-2014), and Senior Pastor (2014-2020). Beyond his service in the church, he has an eclectic background that is a diverse collection of musical, educational, and business experiences ranging from live concert production and promotion to recording studios and live performance to music education. Throughout all of his professional and personal experiences, the Apostle Paul’s words to the church in Rome have been a guiding light that has kept him grounded in whatever work God was calling him into – “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7) Bishop Craig is a graduate of the University of Mary in Bismarck with a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education and a Master of Science in Strategic Leadership. He also holds a certificate degree in Theological Education for Emerging Ministries (TEEM) from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, CA. He was ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament on September 16, 2010. Outside of his life as Bishop, Bishop Craig enjoys reading, all music, a little golf, a cold beverage with friends, and intentional times of quiet. And, of course, spending time with his wife Wendy and their adult twin daughters Ilia and Taegan. View all posts by Bishop Craig Schweitzer

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