A few days ago, we published a post titled, Disease, Death, and Dependence. That article linked to a site on the internet where you could read a sermon that Rev. C.F.W. Walther preached at the time of the devastating Cholera Epidemic that ravaged the city of St. Louis in 1849. I decided that I wanted to make a video of that sermon so that it could not only be read, but also heard. That task has now been accomplished, and this post will provide you the opportunity to hear the words of Dr. Walther. I am sure that I am not the best person to make this video. I lay no claim to being the best oral reader. Please forgive me for my bumbling missteps that show up on occasion.
It must have been a church tradition in the days of Rev. Walther to annually have a “Day of Repentance”, and that is the occasion for this sermon. As I say in the introduction, Pastor Walther’s congregation, Old Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Louis, experienced many deaths in their congregation, and he must have been officiating about a funeral per day during July of 1849. I think you will find that this sermon is pretty heavy on the Law, but I think that is to be expected on a Sunday called “Day of Repentance”.
What a monumental task Dr. Walther must have had during those days of disease. Not only funerals, but also more joyous events like baptisms and marriages were part of his duties during that time. I know I came away from reading this sermon with the thought that it must have also taken much of his time to write sermons like this one. It is packed with Scriptural references that Dr. Walther must have spent time studying before he even put the pen to the paper. The man must have been exhausted by the time this epidemic came to an end.
I must give credit once again to Rev. Joel Baseley who translated this sermon from German to English. I confess that I made a mistake both in the previous post and in the video. I should have checked this out prior to doing this project, but apparently Pastor Baseley’s book, Occasional Sermons and Addresses has a different title now, Treasury of C.F.W. Walther Volume VI: Sermons on Special Occasions such as: Weddings, Funerals, Dedications and other Events: Translated from Original German Sources. Also, it does not appear to be available on sites such as Amazon. This book is published by Mark V Publications and, according to their website, this publication is only available as an e-book. If you are interested in obtaining this book, click on the link below.
Walther’s sermon is quite long by today’s standards. My perceptive wife suggested that I record it in smaller segments, and I have done that. There are three videos. The first is an introduction. The second is packed with the Law. The third gives us the reassurance of the Gospel.
I am of the opinion that this 1849 sermon speaks to us today in a very powerful way. I know I came away from it with a desire to make a personal confession of my sins, along with an assurance of my salvation. If you are moved by Dr. Walther’s sermon, I would encourage you to share this post with others. I know I am going to share it with a few groups in which I am involved.