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To my friend, Pastor Martins!
I got to know Martins Urdzi in 2016, when the Liepāja Cross Church left the LELB and started to build its relationship with LELBAL (now LELB in the World).
Since then, we have had deep and serious conversations and shared opinions, as well as standing together against the powers that have wanted to take away the Cross church and question its status. We have shared theological questions and reflected on the history of the church. Our views have not always been in agreement. However, we have had a genuine harmony and agreement on what the Church is and what a parish is. I dare say that we have been on the same path. In spite of our disagreements at times, I have experienced a true and deep friendship with Martins. It was in the services, events and moments of communion at the Cross that I saw how, in a process that was perhaps unusual even for the traditional activities of the Church, Martin revealed himself in his simplicity as a true Pastor, indeed as a servant of Christ.
Now Martin is physically gone from us. But is he really? Physically, yes, but not spiritually. Because, as the people of the Church of the Cross say, they are still getting to know Martin.
When a popular, well-known person in society passes away, words of praise and nobility are said about that person. Often this is an artificial way of creating, quite possibly, a not very adequate image of this person who will no longer be with us physically.
Yesterday, when Martins passed away, I had a very different feeling. The parting words, the memories of the people resonated in deep harmony with Martins’ life, his contribution to this world and to his fellow human beings. It created a feeling of true light and inner harmony. No abstract, theoretically beautiful words are needed to say goodbye to Martins Urdza. His life speaks for him. The words of John in Revelation come true: “… the works they have done accompany them” (Revelation 14:13).
Of course, for many of us, thinking of Martin is an experience of mourning and loss. This is especially felt by Martin’s relatives, the people of the Liepaja Cross parish, the deaconesses and the countless people whom Martin has helped, supported, listened to and taught.
The motto and motto of Martin’s life were expressed in one word, which is also put in the name of the Liepaja Cross website “to serve”. This can be confirmed by the parishioners, friends and acquaintances, as well as by the countless people in his life whom he spoke to, guided, comforted, smiled at, helped and, in a way, saved. In him, the great beauty of pious and difficult service is revealed.
Martin was truly open, honest, but also gentle and compassionate. His openness and honesty were not always pleasant or easy. It showed us ourselves. And Christ. But Christ also calls us to change. That’s what Martin called us to. By being able to do so himself. His priorities were not external and selfish, but were based on his relentless search for the Truth, for Christ. To symbolise this, at Martin’s own request, a statue of Christ with open arms will be placed at his tomb, next to the burial places of those he cared for.
He created a truly living Church. As a servant of Christ, a shepherd of the congregation, leading people to the great Good Shepherd. He was not detached from reality in any dimension, as is noticeable in one situation or another with his brothers or sisters of the office. For Martin, external forms were not important. That is what attracted people, seekers of Christ, seekers of Truth. The words of the Apostle Peter were fulfilled in him: ‘you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house’ (1 Peter 2:5). So, too, the Church of the Cross in Liepāja is first and foremost a spiritual house.
Martin’s spiritual house in this life has now also been built. But every building must be maintained, filled, inhabited. Let us do this – fellow parishioners, friends, like-minded people – serving, growing, moving forward. But let us continue to know Martin as he too moves on towards Christ in eternity.