Thursday, September 23, 2010

“With His Finger.” (John 3:16)

S-1209 Snookies Funeral 9/14/10 Hymns (O) #199; S #457; #342; (C) #205

Texts: Job 19:21-27; Rev. 21:1-7; John 14:1-6

Theme: “With His Finger.” (John 3:16)

Celebration of New Life for Orville “Snookie” Olson


Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for the celebration of the New Life of our departed brother Snookie is: “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and ONLY Begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him may not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

People of God, chosen and beloved especially you Wilma, family and friends. Today is a sad day and a happy day. Sad, because you Wilma lost your son, but so did the community lose a son. But it is also a happy day. Happy, because Snookie is now in the presence of the Almighty, Amazing and Awesome God who called Him by the Gospel, and made him His child in the waters of Baptism. A happy day because Snookie has been transported from this earth to heaven above, where there is no more pain or sorrow, or cancer or death.

As long as we live on earth we will have sad days and happy days. Sin is the reason for the sad days. Grace is the reason for the happy days. Sin brings about sorrow and suffering. Grace brings about sweetness and salvation. Sin causes pain and punishment. Grace brings about peace and pardon. Sin brings about tears and terror, Grace brings about treasures and triumph.

This is why today is a sad and happy day. Because today we mourn the passing of someone we love. Someone who no longer will greet us, or see at any of the school sports activities. No longer will you see him at the corner of the street by the Bank, or post office saddling his bike, with his rolled up sweats and radio in his ears. But it is also a very, very happy day, because the fight with cancer is over. The hardships this world offered will no longer touch him. But above all, He is in the presence of the One who loved Him and sent His Son to redeem him and claim him as His very own.

Indeed Snookie was one of those unique individuals that God made and created in His own image. With child-like simplicity he lived his life without a worry in the world. Give him the radio, and the bike he rode around and he was content. Take him to watch the Packers play football or Basketball, and he was in 7th heaven. He loved cheering on his team. Even when they were practicing you could hear his voice saying, “Go Packers!” That voice will be missed in the gym. PAUSE.

But you know what really made him special to me? It was the joy of seeing him come to church, always happy. When he came up to the table, he couldn’t wait to receive the precious body and blood of His Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the precious gift that is the Lord’s Supper. Always using his fingers to encourage others to come to the table sooner, because he wanted to receive this life-giving Sacrament that he longed to take into his mouth and give thanks to the Lord.

As a Pastor I have indeed been privileged beyond my wildest imagination to be Snookie’s “Bud” as he often referred to me. I have spent much time one on one with him. And I must admit to you that in the 16 years of ministry, 5 years of preparation to the ministry, I have never been touched by someone who confessed the faith as Snookie did.

In late 1999 and early 2000 I began to teach Snookie the faith. Now Snookie couldn’t read or write. So I used a special booklet to help me educate him. Those times when I would sit with him around the kitchen table were such a joy, because you never knew what was going to come out of his mouth as I shared with him the story of salvation with pictures.

On more than one occasion he said things that I still remember. In one lesson, we were talking about the gift of forgiveness that Jesus earned for us. As I was explaining the concept of forgiveness to him, I said, “Because of Jesus’ blood all your sins are gone away.” And in his own special way he said, “Bye bye sin!” Out of the mouth of children the truth is declared and with child-like faith he trusted and believed.

In my final session with him I asked him, “Snookie, “Why should God let you into heaven?” He thought for a moment and looked at me and smiled. Then he took the book in his hands (show the book.) and kept flipping through the pages until he arrived (show the page, I have also enlarged this picture and placed on an easel for those in attendance to see); to the page where Christ is hanging on the cross. He took his finger (demonstrate) and kept pointing to the picture by pounding on it.

Tears rolled down my cheeks as I sat in amazement in his kitchen at how the Holy Spirit was at work in this man’s life as he confessed his faith. With his finger he confessed the faith of our Fathers. With His finger, he confessed that he is a sinner in a need of a Savior. With his finger he pointed to the cross upon which Christ was crucified. With His finger he taught me that no matter how old you are, no matter if you can’t read or write, you can believe and know the gift of God’s eternal love in sending His Son to claim this simple child and take Him to heaven to spend an eternity of joy and peace.

Yes, I remember vividly the day in 2000 in the Olson’s kitchen when Snookie confessed his faith. And as long as I live I will never forget how he touched me and taught me, you don’t have to be a college graduate or one that has many degrees to believe, but with the simple child-like faith, you can by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Those fingers of Snookie never stopped working. Often you found him in the Lord’s house and kneeling at the table of the Lord. As I gave him the body of Jesus, he would take it with his fingers and place it in his mouth, and he did the same with the cup of salvation and always left with joy in his heart. Even last week when I was at the hospital he did the same, with his fingers he touched the Body and drank the blood for the forgiveness of his sins and strengthening of his faith. PAUSE.

This is why today is a happy day, a celebration day, a victory day! The text of Snookie’s confirmation attests to this truth. Hear again the text please: “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and ONLY Begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him may not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). His love for sinners brought Him to that cross and kept Him on it. There His love poured the life blood from His sacred veins for sinners like Snookie, and you and me.

Yes, God loved him, sent His Son to die for him and rose for him so that he may have life and have it abundantly. This past Saturday His loving and gracious Lord, the One who sent His Son to die on the cross of Calvary, reached from heaven with His outstretched and pierced hands and said, “Snookie, come home! You have lived as a child all of your life, come be my BELOVED child. Come rest from your labor. Come and rejoice in the Living hope that I gave you through my death and resurrection. Come and live and laugh and know that I love you!”

Saints in Christ, Snookie always called me his “Bud.” That is a very endearing term that I will cherish and miss hearing. But I want you to know that Snookie budded on earth to blossom in heaven. Certainly our town will never be the same. We will all have an empty place in our hearts. But oh, the joy that awaits us when we are joined with Snookie and the throng in heaven and celebrate the New Life Christ earned for us without end.

Wilma, family and friends I pray that the peace that filled Snookie’s heart and moved him to use his finger to confess His Lord, move you to worship the same and fill your hearts with that same peace; now and forever. Amen.

Now the peace…


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