Sermo Dei: +Peg Seitz+

Text: Luke 5:1–11

Dear Family, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“It’s not about me.” That’s what Peg wanted to get across – she titled her book with this sentence. It’s not about Peg. It’s about Jesus. Everything is about Jesus; all of life is about Jesus. That’s what Peg believed.

This belief is a gift from God. Jesus says, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” The one necessary work that God asks of us, and that God works in us, is that we believe in Jesus Christ, our Savior. Peg believed in Jesus Christ, her Savior.

But she couldn’t do it on her own. She was sinful from conception, just as King David knew he was when he wrote down those words in Psalm 51: “I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Like all of us, Peg was dead in her transgressions.

But new life was given to her from God. Her faithful parents brought her to the font, where she was baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection on October 1, 1953. Thereafter she walked in the “newness of life” that Paul describes in Romans 6, which we spoke together at the beginning of the service. “We were buried therefore with [Jesus] 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.” Having been blessed with the baptismal gifts of a regenerated heart, the Holy Spirit, faith, and the complete and certain forgiveness of her Sin, Peg could rightly say that it wasn’t about her. It’s all about Jesus, for her; and for you.

Continue reading “Sermo Dei: +Peg Seitz+”

Sermo Dei: +Edward Pontarelli+

Text: John 6:27–40; Revelation 7:9–17

Dear Alice, Terry, Cherie, family and friends; grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21b)

Those are words of tremendous faith, uttered by Job. He’s just lost everything: home, property, servants, even all his children. And yet he remains faithful and leaves all things in the hands – the merciful, loving, trustworthy hands – of the Lord.

I remember these words coming up somewhat casually on Wednesday night, after our dear Ed had fallen asleep in Christ. So I want to bring them up far less casually now: these words of Job teach us how to respond to everything which we go through in our lives. The mark of a Christian is to trust that God’s will is good for His beloved people – no matter how difficult it is.

Continue reading “Sermo Dei: +Edward Pontarelli+”

Sermo Dei: +Mary Brockhouse+

Text: Psalm 23

Maurice, Patti, Tony, David, family, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ: our Lord has seen fit to call our beloved Mary to Himself. “What God ordains is always good.” That’s a hymn text you can cling to over these next weeks and years. What else can we say but “Amen”?

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus.

That same Lord Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd, and indeed He is. He was Mary’s shepherd. He’s my shepherd. He’s the shepherd of all his sheep. And like a Good Shepherd, He goes out and seeks and finds and saves the lost. He found Mary. Continue reading “Sermo Dei: +Mary Brockhouse+”

Sermo Dei: +Kevin James Trimpe+

Text: Luke 7:11-17

Dear Cindy, Jared, Ryan, Curtis, Hillary, brothers, family, friends; Our Lord’s comfort be yours today as you mourn.

Funerals have a bittersweetness to them. We’re here in Christ’s Church because this man – Kevin James Trimpe – belongs to Christ; He is a child of God who has received Christ’s forgiveness and life. At the same time, though, this isn’t where we want to be today. This isn’t what we want to be doing. We want no part of death, or the great sadness that comes with it; especially when it’s a man we love and who loved us.

resurrectionWe want no part of death because it scares us. We want no part of death because it reveals to anyone who’s looking just who we truly are. We are sinners. So was Kevin. We all are slaves of sin; and so we behold our reward: death. We want no part of it. We desperately want to deny it or at least move on from it as quickly as possible.

This is, I think, in large part why we don’t know what to say to people who are mourning. What do you hear at the reception? “I’m sorry for your loss.” “My condolences.” “Our thoughts and prayers go out to you.” “He’s in a better place.” “It’s going to be OK.” And you know what? All of these are fine things to say. They are the best we can do on our own at offering comfort, especially when we have been made most uncomfortable.

We say these things because though we empathize, and we want to help, we know that there’s nothing we really can do to help and so we don’t really know what to say.

The Gospel lesson for the funeral service today is the same Gospel lesson that was heard here in the Divine Service this past Sunday. The story told in these few verses teaches us that when it comes to funerals, the one who can speak the most comforting words – the words that give us true comfort and hope – that person is Jesus only.

Jesus approaches the widow there at Nain, and He speaks to her. But it’s a little shocking, at least at first: “Do not weep.” That is, Jesus says, “Stop crying.” Which seems a bit blunt. But Jesus says this because He has in mind what He’s about to do.

Jesus stretches out His arms and halts those who are bearing the boy’s body to the grave. And He opens His mouth again and speaks words which make alive: “Young man, I say to you, arise!” And the young man sits up and begins to speak. He is fully alive.

Jesus’ words and actions here are a comforting lesson for us. Jesus can gently tell us that there’s no need for weeping, because He has all authority in heaven and on earth. Jesus has the power to forgive sin. Jesus has victory over death.

This is the most important thing you can ever hear. Jesus, the Son of God, became man to trample down death by His own death. And this resurrection of this young man at Nain is a preview, a foretaste of things to come.

On the Last Day, Jesus will return and say “Arise!” to all the dead. Kevin will sit up, stand up, behold Jesus. It will be just like we heard in the reading from Job. Kevin will see Jesus with his own eyes, in his own glorified, perfect body that Jesus has resurrected. Sickness and suffering, ill-health and mysterious ailments will not return.

When Jesus raises the widow’s son at Nain, He shows us who He is. He is the Lord God, the only one who has true power to give life. And we learn what His eternal kingdom looks like. Death is not natural; it’s not just a part of life. Death has no place in Jesus’ kingdom. So there is no death. There’s no sickness, no pain, no weeping. Death is defeated, Jesus reigns. And where Jesus is, there is forgiveness and life for His people – for Kevin.

When Jesus rose from the dead, He dies no more. Death has no more power over Him. On the Last Day, Kevin will rise from the dead. He will die no more. Death has no more power over Him. For he belongs to Jesus, forever and ever.

Dear friends, this is our hope, for Kevin and for ourselves, in Christ. Not a hope based on speculation or wishful thinking, but on the promises of Jesus. Christ dies and was raised. Kevin has died, and he will be raised from the dead on the Last Day into the joyful, wonderful, glorious eternal life with Christ.

How do we know this? Because Kevin is a baptized child of God. We heard this at the beginning of the service. In Kevin’s baptism Jesus gave His own death and resurrection to Kevin. Christ joined Kevin to Himself, and Himself to Kevin. Christ’s death for sin is Kevin’s death. Christ’s resurrection from the dead is Kevin’s resurrection. Christ died, was buried, and was raised. The same is and will be true for Kevin.

So do not weep, Cindy. Do not weep, Hillary, Jared, Curtis, Ryan. Or, I should say, do not weep as those who have no hope. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Kevin believes in Him, so though he dies, yet shall he live. Everyone who lives and believes in Christ shall never die. Jesus is the Christ, the one who has taken all sin with Himself to the Cross. Jesus is the Christ, who was raised on the Third Day as a promise of eternal life. And Kevin is His. On the Last Day, Christ will resurrect Kevin and give Him everlasting life. And in Christ, we will be there with him.

Amen.

God Keeps His Promises – Funeral Sermon for +Melvin Eugene Woodruff+

Preached at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Sherman, IL on May 28, 2013
Text: Job 19:25-27; John 6:40

God keeps His promises. Char, Josh, Brandi, Tina, family, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ: Grace to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is the promise keeper, the One whose words are a solid rock. They are for you to cling to, especially now.

God keeps His promises. From eternity, God knew and considered His servant Melvin – “Woody” –  and knew him to be a sinner. And yet from eternity God said, “Behold, my beloved servant, whom I love. I myself will save him from his sins.”

As if it was only for his servant Woody, God gave His only begotten Son. That’s right. It didn’t matter if anyone else would benefit from God’s sacrificial gift. God loved Woody enough to win the victory over sin and death just for him. “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live;..” God said that about Woody. God keeps His promises, so He did something about it, didn’t he? Christ hung on the cross for Woody.

Jesus knew of Woody, too, when He said “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” Jesus promised it. It’s a fact.

When Woody was baptized at Rochester Christian Church way back when, it wasn’t something he was doing. He wasn’t declaring his love for God or his desire to keep a promise for God. Even if it felt that way to Woody, even if everyone there thought that’s what was happening, it was instead the other way around. It was God keeping His promise. God was baptizing Woody. Even if no one else would benefit from it, God made baptism just for Woody, so that he’d receive the forgiveness of his sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. It was God’s promise, made on that Day of Pentecost so long, long ago. God keeps his promises. Forgiveness and the Holy Spirit? Those are Woody’s. He has them – he received them from God – in his baptism.

You see, when Woody was baptized, Jesus’ death and resurrection became his. God washed away all Woody’s sin. He was cleansed, purified, washed in the blood of Jesus and declared holy and righteous in God’s sight. In his baptism, Woody has the lifelong – eternal – promise that he is God’s child and cannot be separated from the love of Christ.

*****

So, many years later, I just happened to arrive at the hospital at the very moment in January when Woody received his terminal diagnosis. I stood out in the hall, hearing quiet voices talking, hearing Char ask some questions. Josh came out at one point visibly upset. Woody remained – as far as I could tell – silent, taking it all in. I didn’t hear what the doctors said, but it was obvious.

That day we considered Job together. Job, who knew by faith that God kept his promises and that God loved him. Job, who witnessed calamity after calamity visited upon him, believed that God kept His promises.

Dear ones, even if the last few months feel as if you have been thrust into Job’s life, do not despair. Remember Job’s response to everything falling apart: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

How can we not say this very thing, knowing that God never fails to keep His promises? He saved Woody on the cross. He gave Woody salvation in his baptism. He heard Woody’s prayers. He heard the prayers of those who love Woody. And He answered them. He took away Woody’s pain, He spared him more suffering, and He brought Woody into the eternal kingdom that He prepared for His children; for Woody.

Even in the midst of great trial, when it would be easy to “curse God and die”, Job instead remained faithful. I noticed that of Woody, too. Especially during these last few months, assailed by trial after trial, Woody still confessed a lively faith in God’s promises. He knew that God was keeping them. He prayed the “Our Father” – sometimes about the only thing he’d say – even until just a couple days before his death. In faith, Woody can confess along with his brother-in-suffering Job:

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.”

God made that promise through Job, yet God had Woody in mind. Woody will rise again from the dead. Woody will rise again at the Last Day. Death has no more dominion over this saint. On the Last Day our Lord will awaken Woody from death. He will keep that promise.

This is the blessed promise of Jesus Christ, Woody’s savior: “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” On the Last Day Woody will stand up, and with his own eyes behold His Lord, Jesus Christ, in the flesh. And you too, believing in Jesus, have that same promise to look forward to.

We grieve this morning in part, I think, because we’d like that promise fulfilled now. We grieve because Woody is not with us, at least not in the way we remember him. We remember him alive, but grieve because he is dead. But our grief is different. Our grief is set in hope, because our Lord promises to raise Woody from the dead once again.

Our Lord Jesus Christ gives you hope this morning. Woody is with Jesus. Woody has overcome the world by the blood of Christ. He is without pain, without aches or sorrows or worries. He is one with Jesus. And so are you, dear baptized children of God. Jesus washes you in the waters of holy baptism. He promises eternal life to you and to all who trust in Him. You will be reunited with Woody, and with all those who have departed in Christ. That is God’s promise.

And God keeps His promises.

Amen.