20 November 2011

In Memoriam David Michael Ritoch +

We met all those long ago days in New Jersey.  You were too old to be in the youth group, but you still hung around.  I liked you instantly.  Intense.  Driven.  That odd blink.  Do you remember the songs we worked on together?  I remember we wrote this one for Lazarus Sunday:

Dear friend, I sit here crying,
And yet you stay away.
Dear friend, my brother is dying,
He may not see another day.
He's lying in pain and anguish
And he doesn't know who we are.
You've got to come and save him now,
It's already gone too far.

But when Jesus heard the message
That his friend was close to death.
He stayed where he was for two more days
Till his friend drew his last breath.
Lazarus, O Lazarus, this thing that's happened to you
Has come to pass that the world may know
That what I say is true.
For I know you only sleep, only sleep.

And when he came to Bethany, Jesus saw their despair,
Being moved within his spirit, he wept for his friend there.
"Fear not, my sisters!  For he will rise again."
"Yes, Lord, at the judgement day,
To that we say amen...
But what about now?  What about now?"

"Mary, Martha, don't you see it yet?
Don't you see?
That I am the resurrection for those who believe in me?"

And so they said how he loved him,
As they rolled the stone away. 
But a silence fell upon them
As he looked to heaven to pray.
"Father, I know you hear me,
But that they may believe
That it was You who sent me
Salvation to achieve,
Father, You hear me,
Hear me now!
Lazarus, O Lazarus,
Come out now!"

And from the tomb he came out
In his grave clothes all arrayed.
The Lord said:  "Take them off him,
And do not be afraid."
And so our story ends here
With so much more to say.
He cares enough to lead us
And bring us all the way
Home to His Father, our Father.

Do you remember Joy having a fit about us performing it with the youth group on such short notice, and how it worked just fine anyway?  We always loved proving Joy wrong!

I remember only a week after we sang it, the horrible phone call from my mother.  My brother died in a car accident.  And who took care of everything?  You did.  You got us a flight.  You got us to the airport.  And you were there waiting when we got back too.

I remember your visit to our first call in North Caroline - and how you bought us that white beaded bedspread.  I should have known better than to mention in your hearing that it was something we were thinking about getting!

I remember the shock and joy when YOU heeded my words and came to seminary.  By then, not alone.  With Melanie and Amy.  And soon Emily, baptized right here.  I remember the many afternoons spent lolling about after service - all of us sacked out on the parsonage floor. 

I remember preaching your ordination - text was on Romans 1:16.  I remember being so proud of you that day.  And then the day that you all called to let us know another little Ritoch was on the way and would we be her godparents.  David, I remember her in my prayers each day.  I promise that will not stop. 

I remember my sadness when you left Sweet Springs.  I remember how great it was to have YOU do Lauren and Dean's wedding, with help from the ever capable Amy. 

I remember my perplexity and sorrow when you and Melanie separated and then married again.  I was not a very good friend to you in these last days, David.  I hope you will forgive me.  I was so confused that I didn't know what to say.  I should have at least said this:  I love you, and you will ever be dear to me.

I say it now, and I say it in the confidence that you will still hear and know. 

The memories roll on and on.  But I wanted to post this.  I wanted people to know the song we wrote, and I hope Melanie and the girls will take comfort from such faith as this residing in your heart. 

Rest in peace, my David.  Thank you for all you have done and been to me.  Rest in peace!

[David, his wife Judy, his mother Eileen were killed in a car crash on highway 70 in Missouri on Friday, returning home from his daughter Amy's wedding.  Please remember the rest of the family in your prayers.]


Jeremy Loesch said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your loss Will.

Thank you for sharing your fond memories of your friend. I'll be praying for you and the family of your friend.

I pray for the peace of our Lord Jesus to hold you close.


William Weedon said...

Thanks, Jeremy. Means a lot - the most wonderful thing about the body of Christ - knit together in love!

Pastor Harvey S. Mozolak said...

I said on ALPB I would pray for your friends family and you but oh now to read how you are friends and how he became a spiritual son of your ministry... oh, how sad sometimes is the entrance into eternity for us who cannot continue yet in companionship... may God bless until you share the new unbroken bread forever... Harvey

Robert said...

How very strange and very wonderful that we were with them at the Lord's altar on Saturday.

God bless you, Pastor.

William Weedon said...

Thanks, Harvey and Robert. I thought throughout the day today how fitting the readings for Last Sunday. They were a dripping of sweet balm onto raw and open wounds, and I've been comforted by them all day. And the haunting "Mitten wir im Leben sind..."

Terry Maher said...

This is the same guy Pastor Snyder mentioned on FB. I'm not a stranger to untimely death and loss -- maybe precisely because of that stories like this get to me. Been there. Wouldn't wish it on anyone. But I am confident that the same Spirit that preserved me from acting like the natural me will be with you too.

Kevin Buchs said...


I recall David, but not enough details come to mind. He was at the Sem around the time I was there (93-97). Do you recall where he served his vicarage?

William Weedon said...

Blue Springs, Minnesota, Kevin.

Kevin Buchs said...

Ah, yes, you mean Blue Earth, MN. That is where I was a vicar, so he was there a year ahead of me. My sympathies to you on the loss of a friend. Sounds very tragic.

Kevin Scheuller said...

I'm also sorry to hear of your loss, Will. May the tender mercies of Jesus visit you often in the days ahead. Thanks so much for sharing your memories of him and the song you wrote together.

William Weedon said...

Thanks, Kevin. And I've been thinking about you and your wife - how are things going?

George said...

I knew David slightly at seminary. If I remember right, he & I went out on one of the training calls for the pastoral evangelism class. Dialog Evangelism II, ugh.

Thank you for the moving tribute, Pr. Weedon. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.

David Garner said...

I'm so sorry to read of this, Pastor. May their memory be eternal.

Joy said...

Yes, and you two did prove me wrong many times...especially with your beautiful music. May it comfort you to know that David will be eternally singing praises and one day you will sing with him again.
It is my deep and sincere prayer that the shock and sadness pass and you are soon left with loving memories, less pain, and the peace that passes all understanding...the peace that you and David ALWAYS shared. How much God loves you to have given you a friend like David! Oh how much God loves David to have given him a friend like you!

William Weedon said...

Thanks, George and David.

Jeaux, I wish you could have been at the funeral. I was so worried about the hymns - because I knew exactly what David would want. I had debated contacting Melanie about it. She had them down to a T. We sang "Jesus Christ, my sure defense" and "A Mighty Fortress" and OF COURSE we closed with "Jerusalem the Golden." I could just HEAR Ray telling me with tears in his eyes how much he loved singing that hymn - and I think we sang it at every funeral in Garfield! Today I couldn't sing it very well because of the tears, but it was immensely comforting all the same. Pax!

Chris Ritoch Sr said...

Pastor, thank-you for the moving tribute to David. Mom,David and Judy will be missed. We grieve because we are selfish beings. We mourn for ourselves because we will miss them. Friday night there was much celebration in heaven. I remember my dad prior to his passing in 1981 telling me that compared to the eternity we will spend with our loved ones, our life here on Earth is just a blink of God's eye.

Chris Ritoch Sr said...

I picked "Jesus Christ My Sure Defense" and "A mighty Fortress Is Our God" because they WERE sang at my dad's funeral in Garfield NJ in 81 as I recall. Melanie picked "Jerusalem the Golden".

William Weedon said...


Your sainted father was really just quoting St. Basil the Great - wise man that your father was!

We love you guys. Hope you're able to stop in on the way to bring Eileen to her final resting place on earth.