Sunday, March 4, 2012

Funeral for Adele Frommhold


John 14:1-6; Romans 8:31-39; Job 19:21-27

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

To comfort and console His disciples after telling them that He must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, suffer and be killed, and on the third day, rise again, Jesus taught them that His going away was necessary, that He might prepare a place from them, and that He might return to take them to be with Him in His Father’s house in heaven. But, as much as you may find it difficult to understand why your loved ones have to suffer and die, so too did Jesus’ disciples struggle to understand the meaning of Jesus’ words.

Indeed, our great temptation is to consider what happens between birth and death to be all that there is. And, if that is our perspective, then our losses and struggles, trials, tribulations, and sufferings are all amplified and made to seem larger and more disastrous than they truly are. Since death is seen to be a fearsome and final enemy that no man can escape, it is permitted to cast a shadow even upon the joyous moments of our lives, lurking like an evil thug in the darkness just beyond our vision.

No one wants to live that way, in fear and in sadness, and so we are tempted to rationalize suffering and death, to neutralize it by saying that it’s natural, just a part of life, something to be embraced. But that is a lie. For, there is nothing natural about death, but, on the contrary, death is the most unnatural thing of all. We were not created to die, but to live in holy communion with God. It was a lie that first introduced death into the world, a lie that our First Parents believed, a lie that we have no choice but to believe now, and a reality that we all have to live with until it at last comes to us personally.

“Let not your hearts be troubled,” Jesus says to you, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. […] I go to prepare a place for you.” I know it’s comforting to think of the Father’s house as a mansion with many rooms, and that there’s one there with your name on the door. But, that’s not exactly what Jesus is saying. Rather, after suffering death and rising again, Jesus ascended to the right hand of God the Father in heaven to secure a dwelling place for you in the presence of God in His holiness. That doesn’t mean that He built a room or even made the bed and tidied the place up, but rather, He did what was necessary to make you holy, that you could enter the holiness of God and live eternally in His presence. Jesus took your sin and uncleanness upon Himself and He died in your place, taking your sin and death with Him and destroying them forever. Now, while we all must pass through death, death cannot hold us any more than death could hold Jesus. He has become for us the stick in death’s craw, crushing its jaw and breaking its teeth. Jesus stands in victory over death as the way to eternal life, the truth that you will live, even though you die, and the life of all who die in Him.

This truth is what Job confessed more than 2,000 years before Jesus’ birth as he suffered and believed he was facing death saying, “I know that my redeemer lives […]. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, […].” Likewise did St. Paul confess this truth saying, “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.” Let not your hearts be troubled…

Your beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister-in-law, aunt, friend, neighbor, and sister in Christ Adele has passed out of this valley of the shadow of death and is in the Father’s house forevermore. She has believed in Jesus even as she believed in God and she has followed Him in the way the leads to everlasting life. And, as she lived her life in this world, she did not live in fear of suffering and death, but she took comfort and found strength in her Lord and Savior who had conquered those enemies before her. Therefore, she could live her life in the Lord and from the Lord, loving as she had been loved, showing compassion as she had received compassion, serving the Lord by serving others to the glory of His Name.

The Lord made Adele to be a pillar of faith in her family and in her community. She and her husband Albert were charter members of this congregation where she taught Sunday School and served as Secretary, Treasurer, and Vice President. She and a small group of determined and faithful Lutherans began meeting in the basement of the Town Hall in Pawling, and Albert and Rudy helped to build this church building about fourteen years later. This year Adele would have been 92. The congregation and church that she helped to build will be 50. Adele was a child of the Greatest Generation, an immigrant who lived through the Great Depression, who helped to rebuild this country with a sense of conservatism, frugality, toughness, and pride. She was a builder in so many important and significant ways.

We give thanks to the Lord this day for Adele and the faith that He gave to her and the blessing that He made of her, and we take comfort and celebrate the life she now lives in Jesus in the presence of God the Father in His house with many rooms. Let us not be troubled, but let us be encouraged and strengthened in faith as we make our pilgrimage through the valley of the shadow of death knowing that, like Adele, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For, we know the way that He has gone, and we know also the way that Adele has gone, for He is the way, and the truth, and the life. In and through our Lord Jesus we have access to the Father and eternal life now and forevermore.

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

No comments: