Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Christian Funeral for Lowell Mac Snyder

John 10:11-16; Romans 8:31-39; Isaiah 25:6-9

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
On March 31, 2017, Mac received the diagnosis of Acute Myeloid Leukemia and was given three weeks to two months to live. Perhaps the most horrible thing about cancer is that it causes the body to attack and destroy itself. When someone or something is attacking you from outside, you can know your enemy and fight or stand against him. However, when the enemy is inside you, when your own body is your enemy, that really takes a toll on a person’s self-understanding and identity, and it’s not surprising that cancer patients often struggle with depression, hopelessness, and despair. Undoubtedly, Mac could relate to St. Paul’s words, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” And yet, Mac was not overcome with depression, hopelessness, and despair. In fact, he was at peace with his disease and with his impending death. He was more concerned about his wife and family, especially his beloved grandchildren, than himself. And, that is because Mac also clung to St. Paul’s words that say, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword,” or even Acute Myeloid Leukemia? “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 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.”
Of course, the reality is that Mac did not die in three weeks, or two months, but he lived another ten months and then some. And, he really and truly lived those months, spending time with his grandchildren, worshipping at church, attending Bible study, keeping up with the local news at the HyVee, and more. Mac was living on borrowed time, and so he made the most of it. Of course, the truth is that we are all living on borrowed time, all the time. Blessed are those who realize that and treasure each day as a gift from our LORD who gives us life, who sustains our life, and who will call us through death into life that does not end, in His way and in His time.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and Mac His precious and beloved sheep. And, the Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep. That is how much He loves you. He did not flee the wolf Satan, but He faced him dead on and threw Himself into the wolf’s jaws that He might break them and destroy his power in death. Jesus knows each and every one of His sheep personally. He know you, He calls you, He protects and He keeps you. He died for you and He was raised for you that you should be raised from death to life with Him in heaven, life that can never die again. What freedom this knowledge and faith grants us in our lives; what freedom this knowledge and faith granted Mac in his life! Indeed, “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?”
Fear, fear of death, keeps us paralyzed and unable to truly live and truly love and truly give and truly glorify God by loving, giving to, and serving others. Mac didn’t have that problem. Mac wasn’t afraid. Strangely, having been effectively given a death sentence, Mac wasn’t afraid, but he was freed; he was freed to live, to love, to give, and to serve without fear. And, Mac loved to give gifts, especially to his grandchildren. In fact, he loved to give gifts so much that the actually couldn’t wait to give them. Like a kid with a new gift himself, he would let the cat out of the bag prematurely, talking about them so much that they’d guess what it was, or just flat out giving it to them before Christmas, or the birthday, or whatever the occasion happened to be. Freedom to live and worship and serve without fear, that is what Mac enjoyed. And that is what Mac shared with his family and his friends and all who encountered him. What a wonderful witness to our wonderful and amazing God and His grace!
Mac was a hard worker, having worked for John Deere thirty years while also farming with his Dad Jack and brother Phil. He was frugal and he drove the bus transporting employees from Waverly to John Deere in order to save money. He enjoyed nature, birding with Betty – together they spied and identified over 500 species! – hunting deer and duck, and fishing in Canada. And, Mac enjoyed working with Laborers for Christ and with other men from the church in building the Gathering Room extension. Though Mac wasn’t so much involved in the building itself, he did contribute by cleaning up and by sweeping the floors. He especially enjoyed the morning Bible Study which ended with the singing of the Doxology, “Praise God, From Whom All Blessings Flow.” Indeed, I have heard Mac and his cohort in crime Glen, kindly heckling me at the Bartel’s Center saying, “Let’s sing 805!” And, we’ll be singing 805 this morning, as Mac is surely singing it “with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven,” around the throne of God and the Lamb.
Mac and Betty were blessed with fifty-six years of marriage. Betty says that Mac was her rock. Over those years, Mac was able to visit all states, with the exception of Hawaii, which Mac didn’t consider a state. When I asked if he had visited Alaska and whether he considered it a state or not, Betty said, “Yes, because he liked it.” Mac also served in the Army and was amongst those men who provided a human shield along the streets of Berlin for President Kennedy’s cavalcade in 1963 when he spoke those famous words, “Ich bin ein Berliner.” After retiring from John Deere, Mac and Betty moved to Minnesota. Betty said, “I will live in Minnesota, but I will not be buried there.” Indeed, Mac and Betty moved back to Iowa to be close to their beloved grandchildren. Indeed, Mac will not be buried in Minnesota, but in Tripoli, Iowa, where he will join his brothers, in time, three in a row, overlooking the Snyder Access land donated by his family for hunting and fishing.
Mac was baptized and confirmed at the Congregational Church in Tripoli. In many ways, he has come home, not only to Tripoli, but to the Good Shepherd’s pasture where His sheep may safely graze. Our Good Shepherd Jesus has lead His dear sheep Mac through the Valley of the Shadow of Death and into His Father’s house forevermore. However, the same Good Shepherd accompanies you through that very same Valley even now, and victory over sin, death, and the devil is already yours, just as it was Mac’s, and will be given to all who trust in Him and follow Him. Indeed, death is the wage of our sin, both original and actual. But, death has been defeated in the incarnation, life, obedience, death, resurrection, and ascension of our Good Shepherd Jesus Christ. Therefore, you have nothing to fear, and you are truly free to live and to love and to give and to serve without fear, as did our brother Mac throughout the time that was given him. Truly, we all have but a little borrowed time to live our lives for the LORD, and for others to His glory. He has blessed us with an example in Mac. Let us honor Mac’s faith and life by living our lives in faith toward God and in fervent love towards our neighbors to the glory of His holy Name. Let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation.

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

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