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Christian vocation

Every person lives in the world. The life which we live includes our work, our personal relationships and the many other types relationships that we have with others. Our lives receive their shape, so to speak, and their content from these activities and relationships that make up our lives. Christians, too, live in the natural, social, cultural, political and economic relationships that make up human existence. Christians live as husbands and wives, as fathers and mothers, as citizens and employees, as employers and governors, and in many other such positions and obligations.

Faith in Christ calls the Christian to live and to work in these "vocations" in honesty and integrity, but also in the conviction that we should "do unto others as we would have them do unto us". The church exists also to teach people how to live in the world in a manner that glorifies Christ who left us an example that we might follow in his footsteps: "he committed no sin, he was convicted of no falsehood; when he was abused he did not response with abuse, when he suffered he did not response with threat, but committed his cause to God who judges justly" (I Pet 2:21-23).


Throughout the history of the human race, the marital union of a man and a woman has been the fundamental social unit. Through this union of love and fidelity there is a basic structure of human care and a stability of life. This union of love and fidelity also provides the most positive and meaningful context for the raising and nurture of children.

The Scriptures teach that marriage was established by God from the beginning to order human life according to the law of love. Therefore, the apostle Paul compares the love of a husband for his wife to the love that Christ has for his church. Throughout the Scriptures the marriage relationship is used as a picture to describe God's love for us, to depict the joys of heavenly life in the kingdom of God, and to describe God's faithfulness to us even in the midst of our sin against him. Because marriage is a union, not merely of convenience and romance, but of fidelity grounded in the commitment of love, marriage is intended to be a union that is life-long.

Only with this understanding does the church bless the marriage of a man and a woman, for the church confesses that marriage is an image of the love of Christ for the church, and the love of Christ is faithful and enduring. It is important to note that marital love indicates love for one who is an distinct other and that marital love includes an openness to be begetting of new life. This was intrinsic to the original blessing of God that in marital commitment man and woman "be fruitful and increase" (Gen 1:28). Therefore, in faithfulness to the intent and command of God, the church blesses only those unions between a man and a woman who have openly and publically pledged to live together in marital faithfulness all of their lives.


Death comes to all, and for those who mourn the death of a loved one or friend, death is a time of sorrow and loss. Believing that Christ was raised from the dead and that those who believe will rise with him to the fullness of eternal communion with God, the church is uniquely positioned to give hope and comfort both to the dying and to those who mourn. Although there may be exceptional situations, funerals are conducted by ordained clergy who by virtue of their office represent the church in its proclamation of the Gospel of hope. 

Common practice is for funerals to be conducted in church, although when circumstances require funerals may be held in the cemetery or even in the home of the deceased.  As has been the practice of the universal church, the practice of the ELCL is to honor the body of the dead in the hope of the resurrection through burial. However, creation of the remains is also allowed, with the understanding that the ashes will be buried or suitably interred in a place dedicated for that purpose. 


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