Tag Archives: Funeral

Funeral Sermon: Romans 1:16

Miriam Meyer was a dear saint of the Lord and member of Trinity who passed in her Savior’s arms on February 3, 2016.

God’s grace, His mercy and His peace be with you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

As a pastor it’s sometimes difficult to learn who members are, what their names are and connecting them with faces. Miriam was one of those people who made it easy for me to learn her name. First of all she was at church more than I was! Every Sunday and a bunch of days in between Sundays, I would show up and there she’d be. She also enjoyed talking after the services so I came to know her quickly because she would always be waiting on her lunch buddies. Talking with Berniece as they waited on Bill to finish locking up so they could head to lunch. I thank God for this gift of a woman and I am very aware that the ways I knew her from brief visits and a few longer conversations pale in comparison to the great stories and love that you have for her. God gave a great woman in Miriam and God has taken a great woman in her. A wife to one, a mother to five, a grandmother to thirteen and a great grandmother to sixteen! Her joy, strength and sense of humor were infectious and ever present.

For all these great things we knew about her and as well as we knew her, there was one who knew her even better than we did. There is one who knew things about her that none of us will ever know. There is one who knew things about her that would shock us all. God knew Miriam to be a sinner. He knew all of her flaws and faults and the fallenness she carried. Her feistiness would spring up at the wrong time. Her stubbornness would hurt feelings. Her particularity would get in the way of relationships. So many things she did that God knew to be wrong. So much she could have done better. God knew these things and more about her; and you know what? Miriam knew these things and more about herself. There were many things she was ashamed of. She knew she was a sinner.

She also knew that because she was a sinner, she was deserving death and hell. She knew that sin meant separation from God and that apart from God there is no good thing. I know she knew this because I talked with her about it. We not only talked about it, but I heard her confess it: “I have sinned against you in thought word in deed by what I have done and by what I have left undone, I have not loved you with my whole heart, I have not loved my neighbor as myself, I justly deserve your present and eternal punishment.” This was Miriam.

But God was not satisfied having Miriam like this. God doesn’t desire the death of a sinner and God didn’t want to leave Miriam in her sins. So God did something about it. God in His infinite wisdom and ways beyond our ways made a way for Miriam to be joined to Him once again. The sinful imperfections of Miriam could not be tolerated in the presence of the eternal perfect God, so He made a way for these faults, flaws, and this fallenness to be taken from her. The imperfect cannot approach the perfect but our perfect God perfectly approached us to make a way for us to be with Him.

In Jesus we see this way. He is the truth, He is the life. He is true because in him is no deceit. There is no self serving-ness about Jesus. There is no sinful motivations. There is no fault or flaw to be found in Him as He lived the perfect life here on earth doing what Miriam could never do. He did that for Miriam. He, the way truth and life is the life because in Him is the life and the light of men. He was without sin and because death is the wages of sin, he didn’t need to die, yet He did. He died when He didn’t need to, He died for Miriam.

He died because the sins Miriam committed demanded death as a wage. He died in Her place. It was through His death that Jesus made the way for Miriam to be right with God. She is not held to account for the things that would cause her embarrassment because they were taken by Jesus. In God’s sending His Son to earth for Miriam, He sent His son to become the bearer of Miriam’s shame. He humbled himself to lift the burden of sin, pain and death from Miriam and all of that he took to the cross. And on that cross God was too embarrassed to look upon His Son. God’s Son became everything that embarrassed God all the imperfections about Miriam belonged to Jesus and as Jesus hung there God left Him to die guilty of all of Miriam’s sins.

For all this that Miriam knew herself to be, all that God knew her to be, and yes all that even we sometimes observed her to be in our life with her, because of Jesus Miriam the sinner is not the name we know her to bear. For all she was ashamed of there is one thing that brought her no shame. There is one thing that God gave her a pride in beyond all sin and pain. One thing that means everything for Miriam is what she found great joy and delight in and that is the Gospel. It is this news that Jesus has come and taken everything God did not intend her to do, Jesus came and became everything God did not intend His daughter Miriam to be. And because of this, she is no longer separated from God, she is His forever.

She loved this message. She loved this news. She loved this reality. She loved this power of the Gospel. She was so proud of this message, this was all she could boast in. This was the only thing that brought her no shame, Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” This power of God is not merely something that might sometimes be present when the Gospel is preached, but this power of God is found in the Gospel. The good news that Jesus has become for us everything that would keep her from God so that with Him through His resurrection she could be with God in a newness of life that is eternal, unchanging, and untarnishable.

God granted Miriam through Baptism to be brought this salvation work. He granted her through the hearing of forgiveness and proclamation that she was saved by Jesus. He sustained her through the eating and drinking of Christ’s body and blood given for her for the forgiveness of sins. As Jesus promises whoever hears my word and believed him who sent me has eternal life. He doesn’t come into judgement but has passed from death to life.

Jesus didn’t stay dead. He was judged for all that was wrong but by Him we are deemed righteous. Nothing wrong with Miriam is left to be seen as it is covered in the blood of Jesus. The power of God that is for Miriam gives her life. Jesus in His perfect payment of death conquered sin and death. There is nothing that separates Miriam from God now. She is in Him and she is with Him in paradise and she is no longer tempted or taunted or pained or prodded by the things of this world that would seek to convince her otherwise. She now rests in the savior because the savior has won rest for Her.

I have spent a lot of time talking about Miriam and about what she did and what Jesus did for her, but she would probably want me to talk a bit about you all today. Because as Miriam was, so are you. Sinners. But that’s not the last word, because As Miriam is, so are you, saved saints of God granted an eternity a place with him forever because of Jesus work for you. Nothing can keep you from God, nothing will keep you from being with Him in eternity, and as we rejoice God has delivered Miriam to himself we rejoice knowing that someday we will see her again along with her dear George in the joys of paradise.

But until then, we have work to do. Just as Miriam was blessed to be a servant of our Lord bearing this gospel this love of God in the world. Just as God prepared so many good works for her to do as She lived in Christ, so too, God has work for us to do, hearing this word and, sharing this powerful message, and loving through His powerful love. Today the works are works of hearing this and receiving from God our life in Him and in our life in him our works prepared by Him come in consoling one another with this hope that is within us. These works prepared for us may look like crying and weeping at the momentary affliction we feel at the loss of a loved one. These works are as mundane as hugging and holding and walking and talking and listening together to the words we need to hear and and the words we get to speak but in these things as we are in Christ, God is working for us, He is working through us.

It is a joy to have known Miriam but as she would agree, the greater joy is found in knowing her savior who has the final word. This Jesus would not let Miriam do it on her own and so too, he will not let you do it on your own. He has done it all for you and through the trials and afflictions that will continue to come our way, He provides the way for us. The way through the world of being loved by him so that we can love him and all around us. And the way to eternity through being ashamed of our sins but proud of his salvation’s work for us. May we all with joy this day be able to say, I am not ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone.

In Jesus’ name.

Amen

Now may the peace which passes all understanding guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Funeral Sermon: What to Say

Today, Trinity and the church at large along with the family and friends gathered to remember Pastor Landskroener’s Savior. The texts for the day were Isaiah 61:1-4, Romans 8:17-31, and for Mark 9:2-8

God’s grace mercy and peace be with you from Him our heavenly Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ this day. Amen.

I am told Pastor Landskroener’s favorite joke was this: “I sang through a screen door and strained my voice.” It’s no secret that John couldn’t carry a tune very well but today all is perfect and on this the anniversary of his birth into this world, he is singing in the heavenly choir with all the angels and saints who have gone before.

I did not have the honor of knowing John as long or as well as most of you here today. But I thank the Lord for the example of an undershepherd he was to me in my brief time of knowing him. One thing that sticks in my mind about John is his loud confession, even from his quiet demeanor. I don’t remember for sure but I would not be surprised if his first words to me ever were “God is good.” How are you Pastor Landskroener? “God is good.” How’s it going John? “God is good.” All the time, every interaction I had, except for one, “God is good.” And He is. God is good. All the time.

Our good God in His goodness has allowed that John be delivered from this valley of the shadow of death. Our good God in His mercy has granted faith to this sinner and gave him a washing of rebirth and renewal. Our good God in His wisdom has clothed John with robes of righteousness and granted him a place beyond what we can see today. But we know by faith, where all those in faith go. And we thank God for John’s life this day.

But it is not all rosy. Death is not good. The sins John committed were not good. The sinful condition he bore was not good. The sufferings of this world John endured were not good. The failing of his mind in his last months was not good. His body lying before us lifeless is not good. And so for us, we are not good. Our broken existence is but a heartbeat away from the wage that our sins have earned us. Death awaits us all because of the sin that infects the world. The pains we feel in our bodies and in our emotions oppress us at times. Our reason and all our senses are a mere illness or concussion away from being useless to us. Our deathbeds, coffins, and graves await us.

And from this reality we need deliverance. We need hope. Otherwise we would be hopeless! But we are not hopeless! God in His goodness has provided that John and his fellow believers could know good news in the midst of this impoverished existence. In Isaiah 61:1 the Lord’s Servant says through the prophet Isaiah “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.”

God in His goodness knows our need for His good and He reaches out to us through His Son into this broken world and brings good news. God has anointed Christ to be and bring this good news to the world. And God had ordained his servant John to be an undershepherd of Christ. John’s lifes work was about this good news. It was John’s place to speak this good news in place of Jesus who has given His Spirit for the binding and loosing.

Our hearts are broken today but the good news which was John’s work is that we are comforted with a future hope and promised deliverance. Our captivity to sin is not lasting and able to hold us away from the love of God. Vengeance has been shown for our sins when God poured out his wrath against the one who brings this good news only. Jesus paid the price in His death on the cross to bring you into the year of the Lord’s favor. Our chains are released the prison of sin is flung wide open in the empty tomb. John’s life work was more than just a job its message was John’s deliverance. This is your deliverance: Jesus work, His death and resurrection. His message of peace is comfort for us as we mourn. His words and promises are what we cling to when we don’t know what to say.

Death is not good. It causes families to come together; It triggers an outflow of support; It can even be a relief when you know your love one is ready to be with Jesus, but death is not good. The peculiar feeling we have around death and funerals isn’t because we aren’t used to it. The strangeness of death is a demonstration of the fact that death is not good. Death is unnatural and unexpected and it has a powerful way to keep us from knowing what to say.

Peter at the mount of transfiguration gives us an example of speechless floundering. The three disciples were brought away with Jesus to pray only to see the Lord is transfigured before them. He is changed to an intense whiteness. This stunning site becomes more powerful as Moses and Elijah are seen to be talking with Jesus. This was unnatural. This was unexpected and it kept Peter from knowing what to say.

My last visit with John was a brief visit, maybe ten minutes or so. It was a hard visit as they were for many who saw him in his last months. Not hard in the sense of this person is near death, but hard in the sense of this is not the person I know. John didn’t recognize me and when I spoke with him he listened but didn’t seem to register. At the end of the unnatural visit, I asked him if he wanted to pray. In response John said something unexpected. Perhaps it was unfair because he didn’t quite know what to say. When I asked him if he wanted to pray, he said “no.” I said, “well I am going to pray the Lord’s Prayer” and so I did and so did he. Clear as I’d ever heard him speak, he prayed with me the words the Lord had taught him to pray.

John’s last months serve as a reminder of our helplessness. This man of the cloth, this man of God whose life’s work was proclamation good news had his reason robbed from him. It’s a good thing we are not saved by our reason. Were it not for Christ speaking for us we would have nothing to say. Faced with our condition in the presence of the glory of God, we are like Peter. Left to ourselves we would say the wrong thing, we would point to our lives we would make excuses. Facing our end we are like John our words may fail us, but the word will never fail us. The beloved Son of God bears listening to. Jesus not only speaks to us today, but in the presence of the Father He speaks for us.

And so does the spirit. In the midst of our weaknesses when we don’t know what to say, we are also unsure of what we should pray. But the Spirit is interceding for us. And with Christ speaking in place of us and the Spirit praying on behalf of us we are comforted to know that our hope is not in vain. God is working all the things of this world together for our good.

God is good. God is for us. With this we have all we need. John’s sins have been paid for. This pall that covers his body in the casket is a reminder that his sins have been washed away. He has been clothed with Christ’s righteousness in the waters of baptism. He has both stood and knelt at this altar to distribute and more importantly receive in his body — the body and blood of our savior for the forgiveness of sins. He has heard from this chancel even as he was blessed to deliver Christ’s absolution. John is no longer tempted. He is not longer grieved. He is no longer faint in spirit, he is wearing that garment of praise. He is no longer mourning, instead he is comforted with the soothing oil of gladness. And this coming Ash Wednesday when we gather to receive ashes John will not. His time of repentance and preparation is over. He has instead a beautiful headdress.

And for you this day. You are flawlessly clean through the waters of baptism, you are completely fed in the meal of Christ. You are in your hearing forgiven of your sins. You have eternal life. Yet you face temptations, may you be strengthened by God in them. And still you are grieved, may you be comforted by God who promises you a beautiful headdress, oil of gladness and garments of praise.

When we don’t know what to say may we be confident in Christ that we may be still and hear him speak for us. Today and always.

In Jesus’ name,
Amen.

Funeral Sermon: Romans 8

In the sermon below, the name of the deceased person has been replaced with “our friend.” I pray this funeral sermon on Romans 8 is a blessing to you.

Romans 8:38-39 – 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.

Family and friends in Christ gathered today, God’s grace his mercy and his peace are yours from him our heavenly father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Nothing separates us.

We live in a time when separation is quickly and simply overcome. Skype, Google Hangouts, Facetime what have you bring faces from places all over the world into a conversation with those who want it. Devices bring instant updates from friends firing off a quick lined updates in text messages. Voices can be heard in our ears transmitted over phone lines and cell towers in an instant. Social media networks keep us close to all sorts of people in all sorts of places some we are happy to hear from — some we endure. Separation is overcome by technology, but in many ways separation is increased as well by the same luxuries.

It is easy to diminish the closeness of a relationship when it is only shared across technological connections. The sting of the loss of a loved one is easier absorbed over the phone than it is face to face. The same is true of consoling and comforting one another. When we have barriers of miles connected by lines we are only able to say and do so much. Separation is hard.

The opposite of separation is connection. Being connected to God begins in our faith live when we are baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. That is how it began for our departed friend on her baptismal birthday. She was baptized into the family of God and in that baptism, like yours she received the gift of faith which we know by grace, through faith alone the gift of life is ours. That gift of faith was nurtured by her family and by this school and church which led her to her confirmation which took place before this very altar. Our departed friend’s faith was evident in her life as a mother, a wife, a church member, an active volunteer in our church and school. I had the opportunity to get to know our departed friend quite well. I saw what she wrestled with — and I saw her faith.

Satan loves separation. He loves separating us from all that is good. He loves seeing separation happen. Satan is even happy to see us convinced us we are separated from all that is good even when we are not. He loves tormenting us to believe we are disconnected. Once someone is disconnected he stops tormenting them.

Satan loves separation. He would love you to be separated from that gift and he uses all sorts of devices to keep you separated. Busy schedules are very logical separations from the gifts. Complacencies like — “I know my savior and that’s enough.” Not knowing enough people and the feelings of discomfort keep us separated from the gifts. But our friend knew better than to let these things keep her away from God’s gifts. As a faithful member of Trinity she received God’s gifts of forgiveness of sins regularly in worship services here and in meetings with me where I assured her of God’s love. As a mother she ensured her children would be in church and in our school here where they are being trained in the truth of God. God worked through this congregation and many in our friend’s life to assure her that she was not separated from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Satan loves separation. And now the biggest of his lies lays in front of us as our friend no longer lives. No more will we be able to talk with her. No more will she be enjoying laughter and hugs in these halls and in her home. She is gone —  taken by death. But Satan’s biggest lie is just that a lie. You see what Satan wants you to believe is that our friend no longer lives. Satan wants you to believe that she is undeserving. That she was not good enough — that she was too bad and her sins were too big for God to overlook. And he points the same accusations at you. You aren’t good enough. You aren’t deserving.

And Satan is right. Our friend was too bad for God. Our friend never deserved God’s love. You are too bad for God. You don’t deserve God’s love. No one deserves it. But God still gave it to our friend and he gives it to you.

And this is the gift from God that our friend had — she had the promise that nothing will separate her from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Until last week it was a promise. But for her now, removed from the reach of Satan’s lies, the promise is reality. And the further reality is that since her baptism it has never been our friend living, but Christ living in her. She was baptized into his death so that just as he was raised from the dead, she too walked and lives in a newness of life in him.

Christ came into the world to remove the separation. To defeat the lies he came as a human baby and died as a grown man. He Himself experienced for you and for our friend the separation that heals all separations when He cried out on the cross My God why have You forsaken me! He took the punishment for the big sins (and the little ones) that God cannot overlook. He gave His life on the cross for our friend’s life and for your life. And in His resurrection, we know life is now lived with Him in God. We are comforted knowing that we are never separated from the love of God in Christ Jesus. In that love of God we find a direct connection to those who have died in the faith.

For our friend this is real now. For us it is something we can only imagine. May God strengthen us in our faith as we mourn together.

In the name of Jesus.

Amen.

 

Funeral Sermon: Ecclesiastes 3

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Family, Friends, and Neighbors (who have reshaped my definition of friends and neighbors over these past couple days), and especially you wife. God is with you. Always. Even as he is with him. Even as God is with you, may grace, mercy and peace also be with you through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Amen.

The text I have chosen for our mediation today on the occasion of his funeral are the words of Solomon from Ecclesiastes 3. Hear again some of the selected lines:

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

If you turn on the television today you will not see or hear people mourning the loss of the great man we have gathered today to mourn. Trust me they are missing out on a great story of a great life and a great reason to weep good tears of joy at a life well lived. Instead you will hear the talking heads going on and on about time. Time is running out. We are almost out of time. These words will be a refrain up until tomorrow when the lines may very well turn into, we ran out of time, there wasn’t enough time, time got away from us.

Of course the time that the media outlets are talking about is the dwindling hours remaining before new tax laws can be passed to prevent the falling off of the fiscal cliff. Time is running out before taxes go up.

Come quickly Lord Jesus. Thankfully he is done fighting the battle here with us in the church militant. And along with that peace he now has, he never has to hear about how difficult it is for congress and our other leaders to straighten out our tax system and other systems.

Time is a favorite topic of people though. This is not new. In Ecclesiastes 1:9 Solomon tells us there is nothing new under the sun. Since the dawn of time, people have been obsessed with time.

22 times in the first eight verses of Ecclesiastes 3, Solomon uses the word time. Often we spend so much time talking about time, we run the danger of forgetting the one who has created time and who has ordered our days and our lives. This one who created and ordered all things has decided his time was up.

A time to be born was 91 years, 5 months and 7 days ago for him. 33,394 days later, the Lord had determined it was his time to die. In between were so many times worth remembering. 65 years of marriage, 29 months serving our country, 91 year of learning of our Savior’s love, more than a lifetime’s worth of faithful work as the detail man who had so much useless information that was so useful to his coworkers and supervisors; years of faithful membership at Trinity Lutheran where he strengthened so many of his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ by being a devout and righteous man. Through those years there were times to laugh and times to mourn.

Not everything was glimmering for him. His battle here on earth was fraught with temptations. Fraught with doubts that Satan attempted to thwart God’s good plan with. But the time of war has ended for him and he is now enjoying a time of perfect peace.

He would want me to remind you today where that perfect peace came from. It was so comforting and encouraging to be studying the story of another devout and faithful man of God last week as I met with his wife and sat with her and a neighbor and him praying. Simeon was a man who like he didn’t receive much media attention the day he died. But Simeon is a man who’s story has been recorded in the Bible, just as his and his names have been found in the book of life.

Simeon was told that he would not die until he had seen the Christ child. Forty days after Jesus was born Simeon was in the temple when that moment came when he saw and held salvation in the baby boy who would grow and die on a cross for him and for you.

His time has come. Your time is coming. But you are in good hands as you hear the words of God that he has loved you and sent his son to die for you so that you might live forever.

I regret not spending more time with him as I am sure we all do. But I look forward to seeing him again in glory, in perfected glory as he looks back with his perfectly recreated eyes. I cannot wait and I know he is eager waiting with all the saints who have gone before us for that day when we will all be made new and there will no longer be any time for war, but together in the Church triumphant there will only be time for peace and for love and for laughter and joy and dancing.

In the name of Jesus who has won the victory for him and for you.

Amen.