S-1099 7/23/10 9SAP/3C Hymns: (O) #744; (S) #752; Solo “How Great…” (C) # SOD #18
Texts: Psalm 23; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; John 14:1-6
Theme: “Walking With God” (Psalm 23:4)
Celebration of New Life for Letha L. Kramer
Armour, SD SOLI DEO GLORIA
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for the celebration of the new life promised to our departed sister in the faith Letha is from the Good Shepherd Psalm: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You ARE with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
Introduction: In Nomine IESU
Family and friends, especially you Janet, Karen, Bruce and Barry we gather today in the house of the Lord to take comfort and consolation in His Word and His promise given to us who trust and believe in Him. His Words are hope and help in the hour of sorrow. His Words of promise are a sweet honey to the taste that otherwise would be bitter as you walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
Today, as you gather in the Lord’s house to say farewell to someone you love, there is a lump in your throat, a knot in your stomach, a tear in your eye and empty spot in your heart. No matter how you view death—death always interrupts, it always intrudes and it always interferes with our lives. Even when you know that death is drawing near as was the case with your loved one; you are never prepared when it arrives.
This happened to you this past Tuesday about 10:12 a.m. when the Lord in His mercy called our beloved sister in the faith home. She is gone to be with the One who claimed her in the waters of Baptism, but you are left to walk in the valley of the shadow of death. PAUSE.
Did you know that walking for exercise was not always in? Some of you walked because you had too. You walked to school, the barn, chicken coup, the grocery store, and the courthouse for that was the mode of transportation then. But in the last 20 years you began to notice people walking all over the country. Even here, in our little town of Armour, you see people walking and some even have their iPod tied to their arms and swinging back and forth to get exercise. Some people call a friend to walk with them.
And so today, you need to realize and know for certain that even though you are walking in the shadow of death, you are not walking alone. David, the author of the text stated, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You ARE with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” Indeed, the Word of the Lord is true. You are not walking alone, for the Lord of heaven and earth is with you wherever you go. As the hymn writer states, “He walks with me and He talks with me along life’s narrow way.” Jesus the Good Shepherd and the Friend of sinners walks with you through the valley of the Shadow of death. And this walk is not burdensome but a blessing. For it is only a shadow, not death itself. A Shadow can’t hurt you, frighten you or rob you of your peace.
Sometimes we are frightened because we see a shadow, but there is no need to fear a shadow, for it is not the real thing, but simply a shadow. And so we take comfort in the walk that Jesus leads and direct us on our journey of life. PAUSE.
Anyone who knew Letha knew she walked. As a young child she walked in the house of her parents Luther and Annis. Later on she walked down the isle of Trinity Lutheran Church at St. Peter, MN to confess her faith and receive the Sacrament. Later still she walked that same isle as she was joined to her husband Earl in holy matrimony. And she continued to walk. She and her husband faithfully and joyfully walked each of their children to the Lord’s house, baptized them and watched them grow in the faith. She walked ahead and behind her children. She walked to tidy the house, pick the toys up, buy groceries, prepare food, and do the laundry. After her husband past away she moved to Carter Wieses’ apartment. Often you saw her walking to the post office, grocery store and even to church to walk up these steps and kneel down to be fed and nurtured with the heavenly manna.
But as the sand through the hour glass began to empty, her legs were not as sturdy as they were once, but she continued to walk to church to receive God’s heavenly gifts. However, the time did come when she was no longer able to walk and had to be placed in the nursing home. There she had to use a wheel chair to get around. And when that happened and she couldn’t come to church, the church came to her and offered her the life-giving body and blood to sustain and strengthen her in the faith. I have visited her often and she was found faithful in confessing her sins and longed to get the sacrament. It never failed, with tears in her eyes she would say, “Thank you Pastor for coming to visit us and not forgetting us!” What a blessing it was for me to minister to this saint in Christ.
Walking can be a joy or a chore. If you are out walking for fun enjoying God’s wonderful creation it is not bad, if you are out walking to hunt it is not terrible, but if you are walking because your car broke down, it is pretty bad and you probably are angry and mad at God because the car broke down.
But walking is nothing new. Throughout all of Scripture we see people walking. We read of the Israelites walking to freedom from Egypt to the Promised Land. Jesus walked with His disciples to many villages preaching repentance and the Good News. He even walked to Calvary carrying His own cross as the ultimate payment for sins including Letha’s. On the night of Christ’s resurrection there were two disciples who walked with Him for 7 miles to the village of Emmaus without recognizing Him, but when they discovered who He was, they walked back and told everyone, that He has risen from the dead and that He is ALIVE!
Yet, the greatest example of walking with God is found in Genesis where we read: Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him” (Gen. 5:24). Can you envision the scene of Enoch walking with God? I sure can. Here is Enoch walking and talking to God. Moses tells us that He walked with God and God took Him. This is another way to say that Enoch didn’t die but was transported directly from earth to heaven.
I like to share with you a picture to help you understand how this walking took place. It probably went something like this: Enoch and God were walking together one day and they just kept having so much fun and Enoch didn’t realize how far they had gone. When Enoch looked back he said to God, “Lord, I should go back I am getting far away from my home and I will soon be missed.” And God said, “Oh, Enoch, don’t worry about it, we are having such a great time, let’s keep on walking.” They walk some more and again Enoch says, “Lord, I should go back I am getting far away from my home and I will soon be missed.” And God said, “Enoch, don’t worry about it, we are having such a great time, let’s keep on walking.” They walk some more and talked some more and again Enoch says, “Lord, I should go back I am getting further and further away from my home and I will really be missed.” And God with a big smile on his face said: “Enoch, your home is so far away, but Mine is close, why don’t you come and stay with Me forever.” And so God took him.
That is precisely what the gracious Lord, the Good Shepherd and Friend of sinners Jesus did this past Tuesday. He looked at Letha with a smile and said, “Letha, you have walked on the earth for 94 years and no need to walk any further. My home is closer come and stay with me. And she did.”
Beloved in the Lord, you may miss her. You may weep her passing. But know for certain she is forever walking with the Lord. What a joy to know that God walked with Letha and she is walking with Him even now. What a privilege for us to look forward to the day when we will walk with our Savior forever. Amen.
Now the peace…