Thursday, June 3, 2021

Christian Funeral for Karen Lee Bergmann


John 14:23-29; John 14:1-6; Philippians 4:4-7


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

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” Jesus spoke these words to His disciples on the evening in which He ate His last meal with them and instituted the sacrament that we receive together still in remembrance of Him, the Lord’s Supper. Jesus’ words are taken from His farewell discourse which constitutes four chapters of His teaching at the Last Supper as recorded in St. John’s Gospel. In this discourse Jesus prepared His disciples for His going away in death the next day, Good Friday, but also for His going away in His Ascension to the right hand of His Father in heaven forty-three days later, with the promise that He would return to them victorious and glorified and would take them to His Father’s home and kingdom where there will be no sorrow, suffering, sickness, or death, but life that cannot die in the everlasting presence of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He promised them Peace – Peace unlike the fleeting and false peace the world offers, but true and lasting Peace with God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Amy, Darin, and Billie, is this not precisely what you said Karen was doing for you in her final days and hours – Karen was preparing you for her going away by speaking to you peace: The Peace that she had in Christ Jesus her Lord, and the Peace that she wanted you to have as she would soon go to Him, so that you would grieve in hope and be comforted in your sorrow? “Peace I leave with you.” “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” Karen knew that Peace herself. The Peace of Jesus sustained her seventy-six years through times of joy and through times of sorrow. Karen was baptized into Christ at St. John Lutheran Church in Waverly, IA where she was also confirmed and married, where she worshipped and served in numerous ways for many years, and where we now give thanks to the Lord as we remember her faith and life and His faithfulness and Peace bestowed upon her, in her, and through her.

Karen loved her church. St. John Lutheran Church was a fixture in her life. In my near nineteen years in the ministry, I believe that Karen is the first and only soul that I have had the blessing of commending to the Lord who was baptized, confirmed, married, and buried out of the same church. Karen confessed her love for her Lord and His Church in many ways, but most visibly perhaps through her work with the Garden Club. By caring for the flowers and plants surrounding the church Karen was “taking care of the House of God.” The Gathering Room addition, the arbor, the gardens, the property, grounds, and building – Karen cared for and took pains to see that God’s house was cared for. And it was, with love, and sweat, and even some tears. And, since the family that prays together also plays together, Karen was an important part of the Dorcas Society and she and Zeke were a vibrant part of the 5-C club that gathers monthly to play Joker and schafskopf, and for food, fun, and fellowship.

Karen showed her love for her Lord outside of the church as well. At home, there were “pieces of Jesus” everywhere, photos, figurines, trinkets, artwork, mementos, and more that were an expression of Karen’s faith in her Lord. While Karen wasn’t afraid to speak about her faith to others, she always showed it in her kindness, charity, and hospitality. Always thoughtful, she knew how to comfort the hurting and pick up those who were down. She loved all her friends, no matter how long it had been since they last talked or visited. Family was a special gift from God, and Karen was always there for her family, in good times and in bad times. Holidays were especially important, and Karen did them up to the nines, even to the point of dressing up like Buddy the Elf at Christmas. Most of you surely know how a family friend, Sarah Gregory, donated one of her kidneys to Zeke. The family, and particularly Karen, understood this gracious and unexpected act to be a miraculous sign and gift from God. If God provided in such a way at a time of dire need, surely He will always provide, protect, care for, and keep His children.

The disciples were saddened that Jesus was going away. But, Jesus told them to be glad, for He was going to His Father and their Father. “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 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.” The disciples were confused and didn’t understand Jesus’ meaning. “I am the way,” Jesus said, “and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus didn’t scold His disciples for their unbelief, but He comforted them and strengthened their faith. He knew that they were anxious and afraid. He knew that they didn’t understand. He knew that they didn’t want Him to leave. He knew that their spirits were willing, but that their flesh was weak. He knew that they were sinners. Jesus didn’t scold them, but He comforted them and He blessed them saying, “Peace I leave with you; my Peace I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

Karen knew the comfort and peace of her Lord Jesus, she knew the peace of Jesus’ forgiveness, and she shared that comfort and peace with you as she prepared to leave. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Jesus prepared a place for Zeke, and Jesus prepared a place for Karen. Jesus has prepared a place for you as well. Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Jesus. It won’t be long, and you will see them again, and no one will take your joy from you.

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

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