RSS

Category Archives: Funeral

Funeral for + Ella Lydia Henrichsmeyer +

The text chosen for Ella’s funeral comes from Revelation 2:10b – “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Here ends our text.

Steve, Jeff, family and friends, these words from St. John are words that we need to hear, especially on a day like today. In fact, these are words that we need to hear each and every day, for they are words of eternal life. These are words that brought great comfort to Ella and they are words that should bring comfort to you as well.

How, exactly, are we able to be faithful unto death? I don’t know about you, but in and of myself, I’m pretty faithless. Even worse, I’m completely faithless. As beloved a woman as Ella was, she too was faithless, and she would tell you as much. You see, the faith she had was not by her own doing, but by the grace of God. Lo, all those many years ago when the waters of Holy Baptism touched her head, she received faith. It was God who made Ella faithful, and she truly was faithful, even unto death.

That’s the joy of being Christian – it’s not about you. You don’t bring anything to the table except your sin. That’s what Ella brought to the table. It is because of that sin that we are here today, for the wages of sin is death.” With that being said, it didn’t end there for Ella. It is because of Christ that Ella now rests from her earthly labors in the loving arms of her Savior. She didn’t do anything and she knew it. She never could and she didn’t try. She knew that her salvation rested solely in the work of Christ and not in herself.

This past week, we began the season of Lent, the time in the Church Year in which we reflect upon our sin and the love of God for His creation by sending Jesus to die upon the cross. It is a somber time, to be sure, but it is also a time of anticipation, a time where we rejoice in the risen Jesus Christ who has atoned for all sin. Fortunately for Ella, she gets to see her risen Lord a little earlier than the rest of us.

But for the rest of us here, what about us? What comfort do we have after losing a mother or grandmother or friend? Is there comfort for us in a time like this? The answer is yes, yes there is comfort to be found, but I caution you where to find said comfort.

Comfort found in worldly things will be comforting in the short term, but that comfort will not last. True comfort is found solely in Christ, for it is Christ who has won the victory over sin and death for us; it is Christ who comforts us by His sacrifice upon the cross, for there will we find life. That is where Ella placed her trust and that was her comfort throughout her life, especially the last few days. She was not fearful of death because she knew that death in this earthly life would be the beginning of her heavenly life. Remember the words of St. John: “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Because Christ was faithful to her, she wears the crown of life now. In fact, she has worn that crown of life since her Baptism into Christ, for there she received all that was His, including the privilege of being called a child of God.

That fact, being a child of God, was not something which Ella took lightly. It is where she found her true comfort in this earthly life, because she knew that she was a sinner. She knew that on account of her sins, death would claim her, just as it will for everyone. But she also knew that because of Christ and His life, death, and resurrection, she need not fear an earthly death because it would not be permanent. She found her comfort in the fact that Christ has died for all her sin and given to her the gift of everlasting life.

Our comfort is found in the promises of God, promises that have been made and never broken, promises that will never be broken. These promises were not made lightly and God has ensured that these promises are kept. The promise made of a Savior is complete in Jesus. Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” Those are not just empty words, but rather words of eternal life, for life is found in Jesus. Death is but a fleeting moment, for while the believer dies to this earthly life, they have eternal life in Jesus.

That is the joy that Ella had, a joy in the promise of a Savior kept. That is the joy that we have in Christ. That is the joy That is the joy that God intends for all of creation, for God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” This truth is a singular truth, a truth that cannot be replicated by worldly standards or found in your local big-box retail store. This is the truth that Ella held to and the truth that we hold to: For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all….”

We will miss Ella. We will grieve for the role in our lives that she once filled. At the same time, we can take great comfort in the knowledge that she now wears a crown of life. She now waits with all the saints for that glorious day when the Lord will return with a shout and raise all the dead. On that day, Jesus will raise Ella’s body and reunite it with her soul, where He will take her body and soul to the New Jerusalem.

There is even more comfort for us on this day. The Good Shepherd, who laid down His life for Ella, also laid His life down for all of us. The Good Shepherd is the same Jesus Christ who died on the cross and rose from the dead. His death and resurrection offer you eternal life with Him and for all who believe in His name.

We bid farewell to Ella on this day. We shall never see her again in this life, but there is a life to come in eternity. Those who believe in Jesus will live again in His presence. As we live together in His presence, we shall be united again with those who have gone on before. As our Good Shepherd who will gather all believers into His flock, His presence, we shall see Ella again.

Until that day comes, our lives here on this earth go on. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we can faithfully receive the gifts that Jesus wants to give to us, just as Ella received. We can experience a foretaste of the feast that Ella now enjoys fully. At the altar, we can briefly attend the wedding feast of the Lamb while we wait for the day when we too will fully experience the joy of Christ’s presence with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, the company of heaven who now include our dear sister Ella. In the name of Jesus, amen.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 12, 2019 in Funeral, Sermons

 

Funeral for + Marlene Gertrude Westre +

Text: Psalm 118:1-21

Bud, Jay, Darrel, Carolyn, family and friends of Marlene, hear again these words from the Psalmist: “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” It’s hard to imagine that on a day like this, we would give thanks to the LORD, and yet, that is why we are here and that is what we are going to do.

But doesn’t that sound a bit out of sorts here, today, given the circumstances? Absolutely not, not when you focus on the words of our text and when you remember why we are gathered today. While we gather to mourn today, we also gather to rejoice, rejoice in what God our heavenly Father has done for Marlene and all believers through Christ our Lord. We certainly give thanks to the LORD today; thank and praise the Lord Christ who was to come for the mercy and spiritual deliverance to be accomplished by Him.

It is goodness when someone does good to the undeserving and unworthy. Marlene wasn’t deserving or worthy of what Christ did for her; in fact, none of us are deserving or worthy of it. From man’s fall into sin, we were excluded from what God had prepared for us – a life in a literal paradise with God. God, however, imparted benefits through the incarnate Christ to the unworthy and undeserving, in fact, to those who deserved much ill. The ill that we deserve is death because of our sin, so says St. Paul, “For the wages of sin is death….”

Death is what ultimately claimed Marlene on Saturday, at least in this earthly life. Around 6:45 Saturday morning, Marlene left this vale of tears and was welcomed into the loving arms of her heavenly Father. That is precisely what our psalmist means when he says, “Out of my distress I called on the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me free.” In our distress of sin, God saw fit to answer us and to set us free from our captivity to sin. This harkens back to the first verse, since He is not good in that He gives physical things, but because He gives spiritual things and delivers from spiritual evils.

While Marlene may have had physical things, all those First Article gifts, none of that truly mattered to Marlene. What did matter to her was the gift she received in her Baptism – namely, the forgiveness of her sins and the ability to be called a child of God on account of the faith she received.

It is because of that faith that we are able to celebrate, to give thanks. We are able to give thanks because it was God that did all the work, it is God who still does all the work. Our salvation is not dependent upon what you or I do or don’t do. Marlene knew that. That is why I found her sitting in the back of the church week after week, hearing what God has done for her through Jesus Christ, receiving the gifts He freely gives to the believer. Despite knowing this, despite having received that gift of forgiveness, there she would be, sitting, hearing, receiving that which God had won for her.

Turning to the words of Psalm 118 again, we see the cause and strength of Marlene’s faith: “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Marlene knew from whence her strength relied. She knew that God was in her corner, fighting for her, protecting her, all the days of her life. It was God who fought to redeem her. Through Jesus Christ and His life, death, and resurrection, He fought against all that would separate us from God – the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh. He fought against evil one who would have kept us forever from God, crushing his head and defeating the devil once and for all.

Through the waters of Holy Baptism that graced her head all those years ago, it was a daily reminder of God’s promise to her that she belonged to Him. It was a daily reminder to her that God had placed His name upon her, washed her clean in the blood of Christ, made her a new creation, forgiven her all of her sins. When the psalmist asks, “What can man do to me?” Marlene knew that answer – absolutely nothing! There was nothing that man could do to her to undo what God had done to her. Regardless of what sinful man could or would do, Marlene would prove to be the victor because of Christ.

For you, Christ has done the same thing. He has laid down His life in order to give you eternal life. He has defeated death, once and for all, so that your earthly death would not be a permanent death. The death you face in this life is merely temporary. It is but the door to eternal life in Christ. When Marlene breathed her last breath Saturday morning, she saw God. The moment she breathed her last breath, she was in the arms of her heavenly Father.

For the believer, we know that our trust is not to be found in earthly things, and so the psalmist says, “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.” What can man do but disappoint? What can man do but fail us over and over again? What can God do but sacrifice His only-begotten Son, so that you would have eternal life? What can God do but turn His back on His own Son, so that His death on the cross would be that all-sufficient sacrifice to redeem creation – to redeem you, to redeem Marlene?

It is because of God and no one else that the psalmist could say, “The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” Those are words that Marlene could say and did say. Those are words that you are privileged to say, for our salvation is not found in ourselves but in God.

Hear these words and hear them well, for they are words of great comfort to us: I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the LORD. The LORD has disciplined me severely, but he has not given me over to death. Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.”  While Marlene may have died in this earthly life, she most certainly lives in Christ. While you will die in this earthly life, because of Christ, we have everlasting life. We have not been given over to death because Christ has died in our place – dying to sin and rising triumphantly so we too may die and rise again. The gates of righteousness have indeed been opened, the path to our salvation secured. What joy and comfort there is, knowing that because of Christ, this has been done for us.

After hearing the psalmist’s words, it is indeed appropriate for us to echo his words: “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” We do give thanks to our God this day – for the earthly life He has granted to His servant Marlene, and the blessings she has been as a daughter, sister, wife and mother. But even more, we give thanks to our God this day, for He has called her to faith in Jesus Christ, won for her the forgiveness of all of her sins, and granted to her the gift of everlasting life. In the name of Jesus, amen.

 
Comments Off on Funeral for + Marlene Gertrude Westre +

Posted by on March 1, 2019 in Funeral, Sermons

 

Funeral for + Jean Rindels +

The text I have chosen for Jean’s funeral is from Mark 13:32-37.

[32] “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. [33] Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. [34] It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. [35] Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning—[36] lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. [37] And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”

Mark, Brian, Dean, Beth, Chuck, and Jane, family and friends of Jean: it isn’t fair, is it? It’s not fair that we should be gathered here like this twice in a year. February, we mourned the death of Dick but also rejoiced that he earned the crown of life from Jesus, our Savior. Today, we mourn the death of Jean, but we also rejoice that her earthly life with all its pains and suffering has ended and that she too rests in the loving arms of her Savior. But even with that being said, it’s not fair, is it? It’s not fair that we should have to mourn the death of Jean or anyone for that matter. But because of sin, life isn’t fair. Life doesn’t go the way that we think it should go, and today only proves that fact.

When God created all things, life was better than fair, it was perfect. Man had all they needed. Man walked with God. Man was perfect. Life could not be any better than that. Because of what happened in the Garden, because of man’s fall into sin, life is no longer fair. Life now has something that was never meant to be – death. Death is a reality for all people as St. Paul says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God….” And with sin, it brings death: “For the wages of sin is death….”

Death is the new reality because of sin and it’s not fair. It’s not what God wanted and it certainly isn’t what any of us want, but it is the reality in which we live in. But thankfully for us, we have a God who is not content with death. He made a promise to Adam and Eve once they sinned that He would send forth One who save them from their sins, One who would undo all that death has brought into creation.

In just a few weeks, we will celebrate Christmas, the birth of our Savior. By His coming into the world through the manger, He prepares for His ultimate journey to the cross. With His journey to the cross comes for us our forgiveness, something that Jean had, something that Jean cherished with all her heart. It meant that in her baptism, God had called her His beloved child and gave to her the gift of faith. It meant that on account of Christ, she received the forgiveness of all her sins without any work or action needed on her part. It meant that one day, she would be able to stand before God and hear Him declare, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

A few weeks ago when visiting Jean, things didn’t look good for her. It had been several days since she had eaten anything. She had an infection that the body was trying to fight off, she was all-around weak. The words from Mark 13 served as my devotion with her. Christ had promised that He would come again in all His glory. The only problem is the people of Jesus’ day did not know when that time would come. Jesus explained that no one in all of creation knows when He will return; not the angels nor Jesus Himself. And so His word of caution for us is “Stay awake.”

It’s hard for us to stay awake as Jesus cautions us. It’s hard for us to do as Jesus tells us because the world tells us just the opposite. We don’t need Jesus when we are able to save ourselves. We don’t need Jesus when we are able to following a multi-step program that will give us all the earthly blessings we could ever imagine, as if this is the most important thing. The world is quick to tell us that Jesus isn’t all that when it comes to our salvation. But teachings like that will do nothing to earn us salvation but earn us damnation.

When we place our trust of salvation in anyone or anything other than Jesus Christ, then there is nothing but damnation. That is what Jesus warns us of during His life. We need to stay awake, to be alert. Know that Jesus is returning and live in His forgiveness and grace. Know that the cross was about making us ready to stand before Jesus. Know that God draws close to keep our hearts ready for that great and awesome day that is coming. Know that God has more at stake in us being ready for the end of time than we have. He sacrificed His one and only Son on the Cross to make us ready!

God has made Jean ready. She was made ready when she was baptized. She was made ready when she heard her sins were forgiven. She was made ready when she received the very body and blood of her Savior. Notice how she was made ready. She was made ready by the work of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. None of this was by her doing and works. She knew that it never could be. That’s why she looked to Christ for her salvation, because she knew that she was a sinner and was incapable of saving herself.

That is the reality we all face. We are all sinners. We are conceived and born in sin. Our sin gets us death, always has and always will. It is only by Jesus that we are forgiven and made ready to stand before God.

You and I do not know when Christ our Lord shall return. Because of that, we are to be ever vigilant – waiting and watching and anticipating our Lord’s return. Jean did not know when her heavenly Father would see fit to call her home unto Him. That’s why the words of Psalm 39 ring all the more true, not just for Jean, but for us all: “O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!”

For Jean, she has died, she has left this veil of tears, but that’s not the last we shall hear of Jean. Christ has died for her and now she lives with Christ, her Lord. It is true that one day, all of us who are gathered here today will die as well. And because of Christ, the Babe of Bethlehem, He has come to bring us unto Him. We heed the words of Christ our Lord, just as dear sister Jean did: “And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” We stay awake, ready for Christ our Lord to take us unto Himself, giving to us the crown of eternal life. Amen.

 
Comments Off on Funeral for + Jean Rindels +

Posted by on December 15, 2018 in Funeral, Sermons

 

Funeral for + Earl Terry Eckard +

The text I have chosen for Terry’s funeral is John 14:1-6.
1“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Here ends our text.
Cheryl, Terry, Tamara, Pat, and Larry, family and friends of Terry, if I asked you three months ago where did you think you were going to be today, I’m sure this is the last place you would have guessed. This is the last place I thought I would be today. This is the last place that Terry thought he would be today, but alas, here we are. There is only one thing that would bring us all here today, and that is death.

None of us would have thought that when Terry entered the hospital last week, he would not see the outside of the hospital. I take that back; there was one person who knew how things would work out, and that was his heavenly Father. According to Job, the number of our days have been determined by God. Despite our best efforts, there is nothing that we can do to add to that number. For Terry, last Monday was his last day on this earth. While it was his last day on earth, it was not his last day, for on March 27, he received the crown of eternal life.

None of this was expected, especially by Terry. But despite what happened in this earthly life, none of that really matters, because the important fact is what happens in the eternal life. As Christ our Lord tells His disciples, “In my Father’s house are many rooms…. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” A long time ago, God made a promise to a pair of individuals, a couple named Adam and Eve. That promise was about salvation, salvation that was made possible by Jesus Christ.

St. Paul tells us, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” To be baptized in the name of Christ means to die with Him. To die with Christ means something, something the world cannot understand. To die with Christ means to inherit all that Christ has and all that Christ is. To die with Christ means to inherit His holiness and righteousness. It means to receive the forgiveness He seeks to give freely.

That is what Terry received all those years ago when he was welcomed into the family of God through the waters of Holy Baptism. When the pastor spoke those words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” Terry received all that Christ had to give him. He received the forgiveness of all of his sins. That fact is what drove Terry to this place, to hear the words of absolution pronounced over him, to receive the body and blood of Jesus.

One has to wonder what might have been going through Terry’s mind while he was in hospital last week. While I may not know, I do know this about Terry: he believed wholeheartedly in these words of Jesus. Hear these words again: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” If there was anything Terry had, it was not a troubled heart. Terry knew who he was. He knew that he was a sinner, inside and out. And even though he was a sinner, he knew that he was forgiven. He knew that one day, he would die. Did he think it would have been last Monday? I doubt it. Was he afraid that he was going to die? I doubt it, because he knew what would happen when he died. He knew that the moment he breathed his last, he would be with Christ.

He knew that in order to accomplish salvation, God the Father sent His Son into this world to take our place by enduring the penalty for our sinfulness and for all our sins, each and every one of them. That is what happened on the cross when Jesus died. He endured the pain that should have been yours. Jesus paid the debt that was yours. Taking your place, the Incarnate Son of God was abandoned by the Father when Jesus suffered on the cross in your place. God prepared your redemption when He died on the cross. His Words “It is finished!” indicate a complete payment and accomplished salvation for you.

Jesus invites when He says, “You believe in God, believe also in Me.” The eternal blessings of God because of His Son’s life, death and resurrection are yours by faith in Christ. Salvation is by God’s gift of faith and not by man’s good deeds. Faith itself is God’s work that the Holy Spirit gives through the Word. The Lord worked faith in Terry when he heard the proclamation of the Good News. God granted him faith to believe in Him.

Unfortunately, there are many who do not believe, many who do receive what our Lord offers. Tragically, we see that with one of Jesus’ own disciples, Thomas. It is Thomas who speaks for many when He says to God, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Does that sound like the voice that you often hear in your own head or from your own heart? Listen to Jesus’ answer to every Thomas in this world and especially in this room: “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Those are the words we so desperately need to hear, not just today but always. We need to hear how Christ our Lord has come into this world full of sinners, of how He lived among us and was one of us in order to die for us. But the story would be cut short if He did not rise again for us, and He did. He rose victorious over sin and death in order to Terry everlasting life. He rose victorious over sin and death in order to give us everlasting life. Jesus is the Way because He is the only one who could make the preparations for your entry into Paradise. He is the Truth that has prepared a mansion for you that awaits you. He is the Life that extends beyond the day of your death and never, ever ends.

For as difficult time as this now is for us, we know that this sadness is temporary. While we grieve Terry’s death, that is not what we dwell on. Rather, we REJOICE that he has received the crown of everlasting life, that he now rests from his labors and enjoys the full salvation won for him and for all who believe. Amen.

 
Comments Off on Funeral for + Earl Terry Eckard +

Posted by on April 3, 2017 in Funeral, Sermons

 

+ Harold “Swede” Dean Heimgartner +

The text that I have chosen for Swede’s funeral comes from Ephesians 2:1-10.

[1] And you were dead in the trespasses and sins [2] in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—[3] among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. [4] But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, [5] even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—[6] and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, [7] so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. [8] For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, [9] not a result of works, so that no one may boast. [10] For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Here ends our text.

Myrna, Vince, Carley, friends of Swede, to say that the events of the last week have been rough would be an understatement. Death seemed to prove the victor last Friday as death closed in around Swede. At first glance, St. Paul seems to confirm that in our text from Ephesians: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air….” Do you want to know what we were? Dead in the trespasses and sins. But notice that Paul doesn’t say that you ARE dead in the trespasses and sins, but rather he says you WERE dead in the trespasses and sins. Isn’t Paul just arguing semantics? Is there really a big difference between are and were? Lying before us is our beloved brother Swede. The fact that we are gathered here indicates that this isn’t just a matter of semantics, that Swede IS dead. But we would be wrong in saying that, despite what things look like to the naked eye.

Death, unfortunately, is very much a part of who we are, but it wasn’t meant to be like that. When God created all things, His last act of creation was the creation of man, creating him in God’s own image. That means that man was created without sin, and for a brief time, man enjoyed a life without sin. But that time would not last, as Satan would enter creation and causing man to fall into sin, thus severing our union with God. God would not be content with letting creation being separated from her Creator. And so, God would make a promise, a promise to restore things the way they were in the beginning, to restore the union between Creator and creation.

By Jesus Christ, creation has been restored to her Creator. By Jesus Christ, we have the forgiveness of our sins. By Jesus Christ, we have life once again. And so says St. Paul, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ….” New life has been given to those who are dead in trespasses and sins. It means that we are no longer dead but alive. But it doesn’t appear to be the case today, or does it? Are we here to focus on death or to celebrate life? The answer is both.

We focus on death because that is what brings us here. And because we focus on death, we must focus on sin, because it is sin that leads to death, as Paul says in Romans, “For the wages of sin is death.” If we didn’t have sin, we wouldn’t have death. If Swede were not a sinner, then he would not have died. If you were not a sinner, then you would not die, but as we know, we all will die.

But we don’t focus just on the point of death. We focus on life. We focus on life because God has made us alive with Christ. Only by what Christ has done are we made alive. That’s why the words of St. Paul are so important for us: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Why are these words so important? Because they promise us that our salvation does not come from us, but it comes from Jesus.

For all who knew Swede, you knew that he was a simple man. He liked simple because simple was easy. Jesus makes it simple, for it is Jesus who does all the work of salvation. We don’t have to do anything, not that we could. And for Swede, that was his comfort. He took comfort in knowing that Christ did all things necessary for him to enter heaven. He did nothing, and Christ did everything. That is not something that Swede hoped in, it was a promise that God had made to our first parents, Adam and Eve, a promise that is passed down to all generations, a promise fulfilled in Jesus.

Martin Luther, when writing on Genesis 12 writes the following: “Therefore it is proper for us to contrast the blessing in this passage with the curse under which all human beings are because of sin. The curse has been taken away by Christ, and a blessing will be bestowed on all who receive Him and believe in His name. The remarkable blessing is this, that after being freed from sin, from death, and from the tyranny of the devil, we are in the company of the angels of God and have become partakers of eternal life.”

Swede has been freed from sin, death, and the devil. He now rests in the Father’s loving arms, as do all who believe. Swede joins all who have been faithful until God and His promise of salvation, a salvation that comes only through Jesus Christ. All of this is freely given to all who believe.

Of course, nothing is free. There is always a price to be paid, and the price is great to redeem you from sin and death. But while the price is great, it is not yours to pay: that has already been done by your Savior, Jesus. He’s gone to the cross for your sins—He’s suffered God’s judgment for you and died your death; and because God has made Him alive again, God makes you alive again. How much of the cost is passed on to you? None. Hear these words again: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Rejoice in knowing that Christ has done all that is necessary for your salvation, just as we rejoice that Christ has done all for Swede’s salvation and that he now rests in the arms of his loving Father. Amen.

 
Comments Off on + Harold “Swede” Dean Heimgartner +

Posted by on March 14, 2017 in Funeral, Sermons

 

Funeral for + Larry Owen Stevens +

LSB Icon 040

The text that Larry chose for his funeral is 1 Corinthians 15:20-28

[20] But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. [21] For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. [22] For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. [23] But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. [24] Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. [25] For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. [26] The last enemy to be destroyed is death. [27] For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. [28] When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

Here ends the text.

Shirley, James, Gary, Shana, Craig, Paulanne and Desi, family and friends of Larry, there is nothing I can say or do to change what happened Thursday morning. If I could, I’m not sure that I would change anything. The reason is this: Larry has received the crown of life won for Him by Jesus Christ. As much as we all want Larry to be with us today, it doesn’t seem right that he’s not. And you’re right, it doesn’t seem right because it’s not right. In fact, none of this is right. The reason why none of this is right is because of what Paul says: “For as by a man came death… For as in Adam all die….” The whole reason why we are here is because of death. God did not design creation to be in this state of sin and death. In fact, it was God’s plan for us to be in His presence for all of time. Unfortunately, due to Satan’s temptation of man, God and man would be separated. Because of Adam’s sin, that’s where we find ourselves, separated from God. But God would not be content in leaving us in that state of death.

Listen to what St. Paul writes regarding the resurrection: …by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead…. so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”Today is indeed a somber day but also a day of rejoicing, for Larry has been raised from the dead by Jesus Christ and His resurrection. And if that isn’t enough good news, you too will be raised from the dead by Jesus Christ, for He makes that promises to all those who believe in Him and call upon His name.

Christ our Lord has conquered death, once and for all. Throughout His earthly life, He faced many a foe bent on His destruction. They wanted nothing more than to see Jesus go away, and the only way to make sure He went away and stayed gone was by killing Him. That is the same thing that Satan wants of God’s creation, that they would die and stay dead. And so Satan becomes the great enemy of God and of the Christian. To that end, life becomes a great battlefield, with God on one side and Satan on the other. The prize: man’s eternal soul.

That battle between God and Satan is one that rages throughout all of creation. But that battle has been won. The Victor is none other than Jesus Christ, Son of God and creation’s Savior. Death was slain for Larry many years ago in His Baptism as God placed His name upon Larry and marked him as His very own child. But as Luther says, the Old Adam in us loves to pop his head up and remind us that we are very much a sinner. And so he writes, “…the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.”

But lest we think too highly of Larry and how great he was, he would be the first to tell us that he wasn’t anyone special. He wasn’t a saint in the sense that all he did was good and perfect; he would remind you that he wasn’t a saint. But at the same time, he was indeed a saint, a blood-bought and redeemed child of God, forgiven of all his sins. He never forgot that he belonged to God. He never forgot that he was forgiven. Week in and week out, he and Shirley would take their rightful place in their pew and hear that they were sinners condemned to die. But week in and week out, he and Shirley would take their rightful place in their pew and hear that they were sinners made clean by the blood of the Lamb.

And so here we are today. Gathered here, we see the full effects of sin at work in God’s creation as we come to the realization and fact that sin has claimed another, namely Larry. And if that isn’t depressing enough, one day, death will come for you and I as well. Death sweeps through all of creation, taking anyone and everyone with it. Not a single one of us will be spared from death, for death truly is the last enemy.

While death is the last enemy, death is not the victor; that tile goes to Jesus Christ. St. Paul says, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” Jesus defeats death, once and for all. Yes, we will certainly die an earthly death; there is no way of getting around that. In the early hours of Thursday morning, Larry succumbed to death. For as tragic as that was, Larry was the victor. Christ has been raised from the dead! He bore the sins of all to the cross and died, but rose again three days later. Larry’s sins, your sins, my sins, they alone are enough to keep you in the grave, but the sins of the world could not keep your Savior in the tomb. His resurrection proves that He has defeated sin and death.

Risen from the dead, He is the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. The firstfruits, meaning there are more to follow, namely all who trust in Him. For the one who dies, death is but a sleep. It is not the beginning of eternal loss, but a transition to eternal life. You and I see only grievous loss and separation, but death is defeated. Those who die in Christ are only sleeping.

As we mourn today, we also rejoice. Death, devil and the world are defeated, though not yet destroyed. You are living in between the defeat of your enemies and their destruction. You’re no match for them, but they’re no match for your Savior. Larry was no match for sin and death; he didn’t need to be, for in his place stood God in the flesh of Jesus Christ, with His blood washing over Larry, forgiving his sins, establishing a place for him in His eternal kingdom. Rejoice, for though Larry has died, he lives in all glory and splendor with the Holy Trinity and with all those saints who have gone before him, awaiting that great day when Christ our Lord calls all believers unto Him. Amen.

 
Comments Off on Funeral for + Larry Owen Stevens +

Posted by on December 8, 2016 in Funeral, Sermons

 

Funeral for + Dorothy Schell +

LSB Icon_040The text that I have chosen for Dorothy’s funeral comes from John 11:28-37.

[28] When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” [29] And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. [30] Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. [31] When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. [32] Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” [33] When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. [34] And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” [35] Jesus wept. [36] So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” [37] But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”

To all those gathered today, for you Dick, Carol, Pam, Patty, Caroline, and Nancy, as we just heard from John’s Gospel, we see great emotion from our Lord when He hears of the death of Lazarus, who is considered to be one of the best friends of Jesus. It is recorded here the shortest verse of the Bible: “Jesus wept.” Such tragedy strikes even our Lord, for He is just as human as we are. He forges relationships just the same that we do. He cares for people just as we do. He loves people just as we do. And so it is no surprise that Jesus mourns at the death of a friend.

So are we gathered here today as we mourn the death of a mother, sister, grandmother, church member and friend. It is natural for us to mourn as well. Someone who has meant so much to us is no longer here, for Dorothy has passed through this veil of tears to the loving arms of her Savior. She now rests from her labors, free from all sin, sickness and disease that she experienced in her earthly life.

As much as we don’t want to talk about it or admit, Dorothy was a sinner because she died. St. Paul says, “For the wages of sin is death….” Sin is that great enemy that we all face. And it would appear that last Wednesday, sin won as it claimed another of God’s beloved children. That is what Satan would have you think, that he has the upper hand and final say over God. And you just might be tricked into thinking that’s the case. But there is one thing that Satan forgets about and that is a promise made a long time ago, a promise that would trump all that Satan can muster. That promise is Jesus Christ, a promise from God to man and to Satan that He will prove to be the ultimate victor over Satan.

That victory occurred many years ago for Dorothy as she was brought to the waters of Holy Baptism. There, in what seemed so ordinary, the extraordinary took place, for she was forgiven all of her sins. There she received a new name, a name that could never be taken away from her – that name was “child of God,” for that is what she became.

That same gift that Dorothy was given is a gift that is meant for you as well. But it’s not just a gift for you; it is a gift that God desires to give to all of creation. God is the Creator of all of creation and because He is the Creator, He sincerely desires all of creation to be connected to Him in the heavenly realm where sin, death, and Satan have been defeated and cannot prevail. God, through His infinite love, sent His Son Jesus Christ from heaven to take on mortal flesh and blood in order to do what Dorothy could not, to do what you and I cannot do; live a sinless life. It was made clear early on in creation that due to man’s sin, we would be forever separated from God. But that wasn’t good enough for God. He saw fit to send a Savior.

That same Savior God sent was the same Savior that was confronted by Mary: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” But you see, Mary didn’t have the full picture in front of her. She was only concerned about the earthly life her brother had. Though we see Mary sitting intently at the feet of Jesus one moment, here she almost blames Jesus that Lazarus has died. But Jesus did not let Lazarus die. What caused Lazarus to die was sin. Instead of letting Lazarus die, Jesus had a date to keep on a hill called Golgotha, for there He would die so that Lazarus would liver eternally. In fact, Jesus’ death is what gives Dorothy eternal life and it is what gives you eternal life as well.

Dorothy didn’t do anything in her life to deserve what Jesus did for her, and she would be the first to tell you that. There was nothing special about her that would earn her favor with God, and she would be the first to tell you that as well. But all of this happens in spite of her. Regardless of who she was or what she did, God loved her. In fact, He loved her so much that He sent His only Son to die for her.

That is good news for Dorothy and it is good news for you as well, because what Christ did for Dorothy, He does for you also. Many of you mourn right now, and that is normal; it’s expected. But let me tell you something: there truly is nothing to mourn over because Dorothy has received the crown of life. Christ has died and Christ is risen from the dead. He is the Conqueror of death. He is not the Resurrection and the Life only in the past, as if He retired from that after raising Lazarus from the dead. He is not the Resurrection and the Life only in the future, on the Last Day. He is the Resurrection and the Life now. Now, and forevermore. Where Jesus is, life is. That’s what Jesus is about: and whenever He is present forgiving sins, He is also present giving life. By His forgiveness, He already declares that eternal life is yours, for He has done all to accomplish it by His death and resurrection.

This is true for you. It is also true for those you mourn who died in the faith, not just Dorothy, but all who have gone before us in the faith. Those who died in the faith are not dead, because the Lord is not the Lord of the dead but of the living. Their bodies rest in the grave for now, but they live even now with Christ in heaven. You have His promise: “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.” It is true for the saints who have gone before us, and it is true for you.

In these days filled with sadness and mourning, let us weep just as our Lord wept at the death of Lazarus, but let us also turn our mourning into gladness, for God has prevailed over sin and death, not just for Dorothy, but for all who believe and call upon His name. Amen.

 
Comments Off on Funeral for + Dorothy Schell +

Posted by on August 5, 2016 in Funeral, Sermons

 

Funeral for + John E. Lavrenz +

LSB Icon_040The text that was chosen for John’s funeral was Psalm 139.

1 O LORD, you have searched me and known me! 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. 5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. 

7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” 12 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.

13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.

19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! 20 They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain. 21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? 22 I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Here ends our text.

To the untrained eye, the scene today looks disturbing. Instead of gathering together for a joyful occasion, we gather today to mourn. Death has won again and taken a husband, father, brother, and friend. Or at least, that’s what the untrained eye sees. For the trained eye, we see something completely different.

Some of the facts remain the same: we gather today not just to mourn, but to also rejoice. Death has indeed taken a husband, father, brother and friend, but death has not won. As the hymn says, “Jesus lives! The vict’ry’s won! Death no longer can appall me; Jesus lives! Death’s reign is done! From the grave will Christ recall me. Brighter scenes will then commence; This shall be my confidence.”

I can’t take credit for selecting our text today; John did that, along with everything else. I can see why this psalm was such a favorite of his. This psalm is a psalm of thanks that praises God that He has provided for David so wonderfully and still reigns in all of His works, words, and thought. Whether David stands, walks, sleeps, or wakes – yes, even in his mother’s womb, before he was made – God has been with him as he was being formed and will be with him as long as he lives. John did as any of us should be able to do – substitute our name in the place of David, for God indeed watches over and provides for us from before we are born to our death and after. That fact held true for John as well. From the moment of his conception, God was watching over him. When he was brought to the waters of Holy Baptism, God was there. Throughout all the days of John’s life, God was there with him. And Friday, when John breathed his last breath, there stood God with open arms to receive His beloved child. The words John heard are words that all believers will hear on the day that God calls us home: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

If John were here right now, he would make the point himself that he wasn’t good. He might have been a good person to know, he might have done good things throughout his earthly life, but none of that mattered. All the good that John did in this life didn’t score him any brownie points with God. He never did anything “good” for personal gain, but rather to benefit his neighbor, whether he knew who his neighbor was or not. He knew that nothing he could ever do would get him brownie points with God. He knew that none of his good works would earn him an ounce of salvation and he would be the first to tell you that. In order for John to receive salvation, in order for any of us to receive salvation, it doesn’t depend a single bit on what we do. It depends solely on what Jesus Christ has done for us.

How fitting it is for John to have fallen asleep in Christ when he did. Right now, the Church observes the season of Lent, a penitential time where we reflect and prepare for what Christ does for us. In just a couple of weeks, we will see Jesus ride triumphantly into Jerusalem, with the people shouting praises as He enters. We will see Jesus give to His disciples, and in turn the entire Church, His very body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. And in just hours after that, we will see Jesus go to the cross. And while we cringe when we hear of His Passion and what Christ endured before His death, we look forward to what happened just three days later, when Christ burst from death’s tomb as the Victor over sin and death. With His death, He took with Him John’s sins, and there were many, as he would recount week after week in the Church’s confession. But he knew that he had forgiveness, not because of what he did, but because Christ had washed those sins away in Baptism, because Christ had taken any and all sins of John to the cross and gave to him the crown of eternal life.

David writes in his psalm, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your work; my soul knows it very well.” Those are words which meant something to John, words that were wonderful to hear, because by Jesus’ work was what saved John. He could be content in knowing that God sent His Son Jesus to save him from all his sins.

From some of the stories John told me and from the years that I knew John, he had a way of getting himself into trouble. Sometimes it meant receiving some sort of punishment from his father or running to his mother to avoid said punishment. He knew when he got in trouble and though he tried to avoid the punishment, it often caught up to him. So it was with his death. Death is inevitable for each and every one of us. St. Paul makes that clear when he says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” John knew that when he got in trouble with his sin, which was everyday of his life, he knew whom he needed to run to. He would run to Jesus, for he knew that only in the arms of Jesus would he be able to get out of his sinful trouble. He knew that the only thing he could do was sin and sin and sin some more. But through the blood of Jesus Christ that washed his sins away, He could emerge the victor.

Reflecting on St. Paul’s words, they ring ever true for John. He writes, “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.” Though John has died an earthly death, he enjoys a new life in Christ Jesus, one free from sin, one free from cancer. He has been transferred to the Church Triumphant, where he rests from his labors.

During the last few days of John’s life, he was plagued with worry, even doubt at times. He asked on more than one occasion why God hated him because he was still here. I told John that God did not hate him, but I didn’t know why he was still here, other than the fact that it was not time for God to call John home to heaven yet. David answers John’s question. He says, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.” John’s days were numbered, just as are each of ours. While God created us to live with Him forever in the Garden, through sin we now have death, cutting short those days of forever. But though we live a certain number of days on earth, through Christ will live with God forever in heaven.

David has a perfect ending for his psalm, an ending that asks for something from God. David could have asked for anything from God, and yet he doesn’t; he asks for something not of this life. He writes, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” For David, just as for John, and just as for you and me, there is a grievous way in us. That grievous way is called sin. Sin, as we see this morning, leads to death. But God did not leave David in that state, nor did He leave John in that state, nor does He leave us in that state. He leads us in the way of everlasting life.

For you, Lee and family, while you mourn today, there is cause for rejoicing, for John now rests in eternal glory, waiting for us all to join him and all who die in the faith. Amen.

 
Comments Off on Funeral for + John E. Lavrenz +

Posted by on March 11, 2015 in Funeral, Sermons

 

Funeral for + Jeffrey Ailts +

LSB Icon_040The text that I have chosen for Jeff’s funeral comes from Romans 8:31-39.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Here ends our text.

Sarah, Holly, Jessica, Benjamin, Karissa, Phlayne, and Brian, family and friends, if there is any doubt as to whether or not sin is alive and well in this world, we can answer that question today. We are here today because our beloved brother in Christ has died. Sin is definitely alive and well because St. Paul declares, “the wages of sin is death.” That’s why we are here, because once again, God’s creation has fallen prey to sin and death.

Lest we dwell too much on the negative, there is a great positive here. St. Paul, in writing to the Romans, speaks of great hope for us here today. Following the Epistle text from earlier, the words just prior to this text, Paul speaks of the future glory that awaits us. This is no “pie in the sky” glory, something that looks good until you actually receive it. No, this is a glory that is beyond all glory on earth, beyond all that we could ever comprehend. This glory is centered on Jesus Christ and what He has done for Jeff. This glory is centered on Jesus Christ and what He has done for us.

How do we know this? Look at the questions that Paul asks as follow-up: “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Who is against you? Satan is 100% against you and has been from the start. He has sought your downfall from nearly the beginning of time. He is the source of sin and death and revels in its disastrous affects on God’s creation. But there is One who is for you 100%. It is God, your Heavenly Father. From the moment sin and death were introduced into creation, God made the promise of salvation. The promise is Jesus Christ. The promise is that through His sinless life, He would keep all of God’s Law perfectly in your place because you cannot keep it. The promise is that through the death of Christ, you are given life because Christ dies your intended death. The promise is that through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, all believers in Him will have eternal life.

By God’s grace and not his own, Jeff believed this. Given faith by the Holy Spirit, this was the conviction that Jeff held to all the days of his life. He knew that because God offered His only-begotten Son upon the cross for his sins, he would have eternal life. What a conviction to have! It was out of that conviction that he made sure that you, his children, were raised in the faith, that you too would be assured of the forgiveness and eternal life that God offers through Jesus Christ.

With all that being said, he could have easily laid that conviction aside. Surely there were times in his life that he could have easily said, “To hell with it all.” Every Christian faces those events in your lives where we are assailed by Satan to the point where we could lose all hope in Christ. When his son Joshua died, he could have given up all hope, yet he remained steadfast in his faith. No parent is meant to bury their child, and yet he had to. Through the difficult days, he looked to Christ for his comfort. Eleven months later, he buried his father. While that is more natural, where did Jeff find his comfort? Again, he found it in Christ. When diagnosed with cancer, where did Jeff find his comfort? It was found in Christ. The words of Paul rang ever true for him: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” Whatever tribulation or distress Jeff faced in this life, he knew that there would be nothing, absolutely nothing, that could ever separate him from Christ. He knew that his comfort would be found in Christ because of Christ’s very words: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

The Son of God, Jesus Christ, took on human nature so that He could live the human experience. He grew up like any boy. He became a man. He lived a complete human life and then He experienced a human death. Jesus not only experienced a physical death, but He also experienced eternal death, eternal punishment. He experienced that death so that we don’t have to. By living a human life and dying a human death, He took our place. He rescued us from sin, death, and the power of the devil with His holy, precious blood and His innocent suffering and death. Then, because He was sinless, death could not hold Him and He rose from the dead.

Jesus Christ has gone before us from life to death and to life again. For the believer in Christ, there is no eternal death but only eternal life. As St. Paul says, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Absolutely nothing will keep the believer from God because Christ has conquered all. Whatever Satan himself throws at the believer, Christ is stronger and keeps us connected to him unto life everlasting.

Jeff belonged to the Lord and now rests with the Lord. He is now enjoying the joy of being in the presence of his heavenly Father and with Christ, his Redeemer. One day, we too will be called by Christ to return to him. On that day, it will be a glorious day. As Jeff was fond of saying, it will be a win-win. Today, we rejoice that for Jeff, it is a win-win. He is free from all sickness and disease. He is at rest and free from the sin that separates us from God. However, for us this side of heaven, we are still here. We remain in a sinful and fallen world and now without a son, husband, father, grandfather and brother. We weep as did Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus. As we mourn, we mourn with the hope of the resurrection. We look forward to the Last Day where all who have fallen asleep in Christ will be raised and receive eternal life. Jeff has received the crown of eternal life because of Christ and now rests from his labors. Because of Christ, we are assured that we too will wear the crown of eternal life because we have been joined with Christ forever, for nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Amen.

 
Comments Off on Funeral for + Jeffrey Ailts +

Posted by on February 13, 2014 in Funeral, Sermons

 

Funeral for + Duane Jurczewsky +

LSB Icon_040The text that I have chosen for Duane’s funeral comes from 1 Corinthians 15:51-58.

51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Here ends our text.

Phyllis, Todd, Beth, Sonia, in the last few weeks of Duane’s life, when I would see him, there was one thing that he did a lot of: sleep. Whether it was due to age, tiredness, pain or medication, he slept. Seeing him on Thursday, his sleep was anything but restful. With all of that being said, we rejoice because Duane did fall asleep; he fell asleep in Christ Thursday evening. There isn’t a better place to fall asleep than in the arms of Jesus.

As much as we don’t like it, as much as we don’t understand it, Duane’s death had to take place. It leaves sorrow today in our lives, as it should. No longer is a husband, father, or grandfather present. We are left feeling lonesome. And while all of that is natural to feel, we must remember that this is what was necessary. Listen again to the words from St. Paul: “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” That is what happens for every believer in Christ. That is the joy that we have on account of Christ and by His life, death, and resurrection. We have the promise from today’s Gospel reading: “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” Christ understands our deepest of needs and does what no one else could do.

That is what happened to Duane. Thursday, when Duane breathed his last, he fell asleep in Christ. In that moment, everything changed for Duane. In the twinkling of an eye, his body was forever changed. There was no more cancer. There was no more sickness. There was no more disease. Duane has won the victory over all suffering and pain. He has even won the victory over death.

Duane did not win the victory by being kind or generous. He did not win the victory by being loving or hard working; though many here can testify to the fact that Duane was all these things. But that is not how a person wins the victory over suffering and death.

But when Duane faced death, he did not face it alone. Another stood by his side, one who was stronger than death. Through Him, through Jesus Christ, Duane has won the victory. Christ removed the sharp sting of death, which is sin, for He washed Duane clean in His precious blood. With all of Duane’s sins nailed forever to the cross of Calvary, no one could bring any accusation against him. Not even Satan could stand up and accuse Duane of anything, since the Lord God has already declared him innocent forever.

Resurrection is what Duane received and what you are receiving today in your ears; what you are saying and singing with your tongues; what you have had poured over your head; what you will receive in the bread and wine that is the very body and blood of our Lord. Jesus’ resurrection is Duane’s resurrection and it is your resurrection—but that is only because His death is your death.

While today is indeed a day of sorrow, it is also a day to rejoice. It is a day to rejoice in the fact that Christ has called Duane to be His beloved child through the waters of Holy Baptism. In Baptism, Duane received the forgiveness of all of his sins. Duane was not deserving of the mercy that God showed to him on account of Christ. In fact, none of us are deserving of God’s mercy, yet through His grace, He makes us to be His own.

Duane has what we desire, what one day will be ours – immortality. This is not immortality that we find in horror or science fiction movies, but this is immortality that is found in Christ. This is immortality that grants to the believer everlasting life in Christ Jesus. This is what is given to us freely by Christ, without any work on our part.

Sin and death have been forever ended because of Christ’s work for us on the cross. Because of His sacrificial death, the death that Duane died is only temporary and not eternal. He lives triumphant on account of Christ. Listen to these words from St. Paul and how they speak of the work of Christ for us: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” Because Christ has joined us to Himself through Baptism, we are forever a part of Him. His death is our life. He dies the death that we are to die and we live eternally in Him. Duane knew this. This is what he confessed. He knew that he was a sinner, but because of Christ, he was made righteous. He knew that one day, he was going to die. But in that same thought, he also knew that he was going to live again in Christ.

Victory for Duane is sure and certain. Victory for the Christian is sure and certain. Because we are united in Christ’s death, we are united in His resurrection. There is no wonder as to what will happen when we breathe our last breath. There was no wonder in Duane’s mind as to what would happen when he would breathe his last breath. While he was fearful of dying, he knew that there truly was nothing to fear because he would be with Christ, and that is where Duane is, with Christ.

For us who are left this side of heaven, sorrow is indeed our song today. But beyond our song of sorrow, our song of joy rings out louder. With Christ, there is no more pain. There is no more suffering. Our song is forever a song of joy, for what Christ has achieved for Duane, for what Christ has achieved for all who believe and confess His holy name. Victory is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord. Today we rejoice that Duane has received that victorious crown of life and we look forward to that day when Christ calls us home with Him, for on that day we will receive that victorious crown of life, surrounded by the multitude of saints who have gone before us, of those who have fallen asleep in Jesus, as we gather and worship the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. We continue to look to Jesus, for He alone can give victory, in the hour of sorrow and in the hour of death. Today, we abound in the work of the Lord, for it is that work that gives to Duane and to all believers eternal life. Amen.

 
Comments Off on Funeral for + Duane Jurczewsky +

Posted by on February 4, 2014 in Funeral, Sermons

 
 
Malcare WordPress Security