Thursday, September 23, 2010

“What A Wonderful Gift.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

S-1211 17SAP/3C 9/19/10 Hymns (O) #461; S# “In the Garden”; (C) #770

Texts: Isaiah 43:1-3a; Revelation 21:1-5; John 20:11-18

Theme: “What A Wonderful Gift.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

Celebration of the New Life of Sandra (Sandy, Sam) Vogt


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, is from St. Paul’s 2nd letter to the church at Corinth chapter 5:18-19 “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

People of God, chosen and beloved, especially you Todd, Sondra, Cory, Kasie family and friends, we love getting and giving gifts. Some gifts are more special than others. Some cost little and others cost a lot. Some gifts we cherish and appreciate, at other times we don’t appreciate the gift we have received until it is too late. As the years go by we forget the gifts we received or who gave them to us. None-the-less gift giving is special between family and friends.

Sometimes, when we get a gift we say to the giver, “You shouldn’t have!” At other times we act surprised, but we knew all along that the gift was coming our way. Today, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will talk about the gift that we all need—the Wonderful gift the Father of all mercy and compassion gives to us sinner not because we deserve it, not because we are such good people; but ONLY because He is so gracious, loving, merciful and compassionate.

Listen now to the giver of the greatest gift the world has ever received as we meet the Savior’s encounter early on Resurrection morning visiting with a woman weeping at the sight of His tomb.

Beloved Captives of the Resurrection Certainty, did you notice how in our Gospel reading Mary cried? The first were tears of the deepest of sadness and sorrow. Her friend, mentor, and much more, the One in whom she had put her hope and trust was seemingly gone, dead, buried, and never to be held nor to be beheld, again. How deep was her grief and sorrow! You and I know the pain of loss. For you Todd, Sondra, Cory, Kasie and beloved family, these tears of Mary are mirrored in your own hearts today. Your wife of 27 years is no longer here, your mother, your sister, your aunt, your friend, she will no longer drop in for a cup of coffee, no longer watching over and holding the grandchildren, no longer share a lingering phone conversation, or a bite to eat with you. Ah yes, death it seems so final. And indeed it WAS.

Mary cried again, her cry became the cry of surprised joy: “Rabboni!” or “dear, precious Teacher!” He rose, as He said, as He promised. He told her that she could not continue to cling to Him, but to go and tell the disciples that He is to ascend not just to God, but to My Father, who is become Your Father, and to My God, who is become most intimately Your God. Now we celebrate that same joy, we are given that same gift today—the WONDERFUL gift of forgiveness that brings about peace and joy. Jesus’ rising from the tomb, and His ascension to the Father means that Jesus’ Father is Sandy’s Father, and Jesus’ God is Sandy’s God… and He is Your Father and Your God as well. Mary cried the cry of joy, of faith, and of life, for Jesus kept His promise. He rose. Now your wife, mother, sister, cousin, friend, she is alive. Her cancer, like all her sin, is cast into the depth of the sea, it is remembered…. No more (Micah 7:19; Jeremiah 31:31-34)! PAUSE.

One of her children wrote this message on “Tonight was a very peaceful night for our wonderful mother.  She has left us tonight and has gone to a place where cancer will never be able to touch her or hurt her again.  She will not have to worry about any more bad bubbles.  She is at home with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (Sondra her eldest daughter). How true that is—peace at last—through the Lord, Jesus Christ—the Great Physician who gave her such a wonderful gift through His death and glorious resurrection.

Forgiveness and life go hand in hand. Forgiveness brings about peace of mind and heart. Forgiveness allows you to sleep at night without tossing about. Forgiveness builds up instead of tearing down. Most of you here know that Sandy and I had a wedge between us for most of the past four years. What the issue was is now of no consequence, for it has been forgiven, cast into the depths of the sea and remembered…. NO MORE. This now forgiven matter caused deep pain, but just recently we were reunited. I confessed my sin to her, and she, her sin to me, and we celebrated the broken body and shed blood of our Savior as the guarantee that all is now at peace, that the sin is now no more. Forgiveness, reconciliation and healing are mighty and wonderful gifts from God Himself to sinners like us.

King David once sang as one of the shortest, yet more powerful of the Psalms, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity, It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing—Life forevermore. (Psalm 133:1-3).

This song we share now. Your beloved wife received the full adoption as beloved daughter of the Most High God and King (Luke 6:35). Her name WAS and IS and WILL remain written in the Lamb’s book of Life (Revelation 21:27). She has received Life from the One who is the Lord of Life, Jesus…. Forevermore!

Sandy knew that her journey here in this life was coming to an end. But she wept not with the first tears of her sister, Mary, but with the later tears as she saw her risen Savior and Teacher Jesus Christ through the eyes of faith. Sandy dearly loved you Todd, Sondra, Cory, Kasie and family. She knew what her Baptismal Grace meant: that a bruised reed, smoldering flax, a simple sinner’s life meant more to Jesus than all the riches and strength of the world. Sandy knew, by faith then what she now sees with the sight of certainty, the sight of the resurrection glory: That her God and Savior, Jesus makes all things new—through the cross and the empty tomb.

Oh, for this brief time we call life on this earth, you will not behold her as you have before, for that we are all saddened and full of sorrow. You, her dear family, you miss her so much. But the grave is never, ever, do you hear me, the end of the story for those who trust in Jesus. On account of Jesus, sin is no more; there is no past, but the present reality of the Resurrection and the hope of Glory. You may cry now and in the days and years to come. You miss her and rightly so. But do not let those tears be tears of despair. Let them be salted with the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection, that indeed, Jesus has already made all things new, and that neither death nor life, angels nor principalities, height nor depth, yes, absolutely nothing including cancer is able to separate you from the Love of God… nothing will keep you from seeing Your Savior, and nothing, absolutely nothing, will be able to keep you from the love you shared here below, and the eternal love you will share in heaven when you see your beloved one…. This time in the joyous, nail-pierced hands of Him who was dead and is alive. PAUSE

Saints in Christ travel to the Delmont cemetery (not far from here) and you will find a unique head stone with these words etched on it.








This past Saturday He who is the Resurrection and the Life Jesus Christ gave her the GIFT of eternal life. He took the cross away from her and gave her the everlasting peace and joy that He alone gives to all people who believe in Him. That is the Wonderful GIFT He gives to all people. Remember, what I said earlier? Some of the gifts we get or give cost a little and sometimes a lot. This wonderful Gift was given at a very high price—the life’s blood of the Lamb of God shed on the altar of the cross.

Sandy made her peace with those she loved before her Savior took her home. That is what was behind our reconciliation, and the joyous meal of forgiveness we shared just 14 days ago. And that peace she made with us came because God the Father made peace with Sandy through the blood of His Only-Begotten Son. What a wonderful gift! What a precious gift! What a joy! What an eternal certainty… Life…. Forever more. Amen.

Christ is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed! Hallelujah!

No comments: