S-0164 1/22/10 Hymns: #878; #744; #748 All from LSB
Texts: Psalm 23; Revelation 21:2-7; John 14:1-6
Theme: “Behold, I Make All Things New” (Rev. 21:5)
Celebration of the New Life for Erma Lorraine Nedved
Saints in Christ, family and friends, we have gathered here this morning to celebrate the new life promised to our Princes of Grace—Erma by her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The text chosen for our meditation this morning is from the epistle lesson “And He that sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said unto me, ‘Write; for these words are true and faithful” (Rev. 21:5).
Dear redeemed in Christ, all of us like to receive new things. Like a new car, computer, cell phone, Xbox 360, or clothes. When we get these items, we are happy. This happiness remains with us, as long as these items are good or functioning. But eventually, they will wear out, become useless and out of date and style. They perish because they are all man made.
However, in the text that is before us, Jesus makes one of the most profound promises in Scripture, “Behold, I make all things new.” What a promise from the lips of the One Seated on the throne to declare these precious words to us.
This new life was given to our grand Princes of Grace in the faith, through the water and the Word, on October 24, 1926. On that day, our beloved Savior washed her clean from all her sins, gave her the white robes of righteousness, opened the door of heaven to her and granted her new life.
What our Savior promised He fulfills because He is the author and Perfecter of our faith. And when Jesus promises, He fulfills it. He fulfilled it on the cross of Calvary, when He said, “It is finished!” And with that He fulfilled the requirements of the Law. To everyone who believes in Jesus, the New heaven is his by faith, the faith which has been given to us in Baptism.
With this promise, God declares that there will be no more pain/sorrow/tears. What a needful and wonderful thing for you to hear this morning. That your beloved mother, mother-in-law, sister, Grandma Erma, has ceased to know sorrow, pain is not even a distant memory, for surely her loving Savior, Jesus, has already wiped every tear from her eyes. She sees Him as He is, and she sees herself as His beloved daughter—the princess of grace. Whole, without any spot, wrinkle, or blemish. What a promise...what a Savior. She is with her Savior, for surely He has always been with her, He who bought her with His own precious blood! While the Father has always been with her, now she is, forever and ever, amen, she is with her heavenly Father, for in all her earthly life with all its weaknesses which burdened her, one constant remained. Her Heavenly Father cherished and cared for her. Now she sees this, not by faith… ah, but by sight! What a promise, kept! What a Father! PAUSE.
God fulfilled His promise to us, because God does what He says, and says what He does. God promised our first parents in the Garden to send a Savior to redeem the world and deliver them from the curse of sin, and the punishment of hell. And so His Son came to earth to be like us in every way, fulfilling the Law completely and dwelling with us and among us.
When Jesus walked the Palestinian dirt roads, He experienced everything that you are going through. He felt the pain that is tugging at your heart right now. He knows your anguish, and knows how you feel. Unlike me, I can only sympathize with you, but Jesus knows your hearts, your pain and sees your tears. Jesus the God-Man went through the same experiences over the death of His very close friend-Lazarus. And He hated what sin did to His creatures.
He didn’t only feel for us, but He suffered the punishment of death in our place. He suffered the beating, the humiliation, the mockery, so that we don’t have too. Our loving and gracious God understands what you are going through. He, too, lost someone very close and dear to Him. He lost His only son, so that He may win the whole world to Himself. Be comforted as you grieve for the Princes of Grace. Certainly, we grieve, we miss her; but we do not grieve as those who have no hope. So grieve, you loved her and received so much love from her – Christ was exchanged between you. And while that has not gone away, for He has not disappeared, this relationship has changed, for the moment. You miss her. Good! In Christ you will once again see her.
You will see her because Jesus suffered, died and rose again to give new life to all who trust in Him. In Him we have the victory over the unholy three—satan, sin and death. In Him, we have the certainty and the assurance that we will inherit heaven. To all of those who believe in the power and victory of Jesus, they live by faith; the faith that was given the Princes of Grace Erma, and to each one of us through the precious gift Baptism. Surely, Erma lived by faith. She demonstrated in her life the faith that carried her through life and its challenges. Throughout her life, she made it a habit to be in the Lord’s house to receive the blessings of the Word and Sacrament.
For the past few years, I have been ministering to one of God’s princes of Grace—your mother while at the nursing homes of Wagner and Armour. She always looked forward to that special time when she could lift in her hands the precious Cup and eat the life-giving Bread. But as the days and years went by, even that small activity was difficult, and so I placed the bread and the cup on her lips and with great joy she ate and drank from the cup of healing.
Erma believed in the promise of God, and lived in the new life that God has promised her. She left you a wonderful heritage. This heritage is not about money or position but about the love of Jesus! On many of my visits you could see her lips move as we would pray together and worship together. What a blessing to see faith in action through one of God’s princess of grace.
By the grace of God, this Princess of Grace looked forward to the New Life that awaited her through her Savior, Jesus. Even though she looked forward to it and the peace He offered, she didn’t experience this peace on this earth, but now she is because she is in the presence of her Savior the Prince of Peace—Jesus Christ.
Indeed, as Erma taught her children to live by the faith which was given her in baptism, (as one of her daughters told, “Pastor, mom made sure that we would be in the Lord’s house always”). I encourage you to do likewise—be in the Lord’s house often, study His Word, grow in the knowledge and grace that He has given you. And always look to the power and victory which Jesus has conquered for all who believe in Him. PAUSE.
The last few years have been challenging for the Princess of Grace. She had difficult time breathing and at times even seemed so distant. At other times she couldn’t lift her head up. Even in her final earthly hours she couldn’t lay in bed for her breathing caused her pain. So they set her in a chair to comfort her. But that comfort was not totally there. Only God can and does comfort her.
At times we would like to have new things, but can’t get it, because it is either too expensive or out of our reach. So, too, with our Princes of Grace Erma; she longed to have a new leash on life—her health, but it never materialized. But now, her Savior has welcomed her home. He has overcome death and hell and granted her the New Life. No need for nursing home. No need for hospitals, doctors and pills. No, she has a new life. And that life is the perfect life without any pain, sorrow, or tears. Rejoice for her because, she truly is in the arms of her Savior, who died and rose for her.
Family and friends, God’s princes of Grace Erma has fallen asleep in the Lord this past Monday and yet she has given you a good and valuable lesson. Don’t abstain from God’s house. Don’t abstain from the Sacrament. Don’t abstain from being in the Word. Read it, learn it, depend on it, and watch what God will do for you. Indeed, to all who believe in Jesus, we have the certainty and the assurance, that we will have the new life promised by Jesus. We too, will experience it in full, when we fall asleep and see the Lord. But meanwhile we live by hope, the sweet hope of the resurrection of our new life because Jesus said, “Behold, I Make All Things New!”
Rejoice then, because Jesus has given her the new life He promised. What a wonderful and awesome God we have who fulfills all of His promises! And so we join St. Paul by saying, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them that also that love His appearing.” (2 Tim. 4:7-8).
I want you to look beyond the casket, beyond this body, to the new life, the new body, the new mansion, the new heaven and earth. And rejoice in spite of your mourning, because Erma the Princess of God’s grace is not dead, but alive in Christ. Thanks be to God for His wonderful promises. Amen.