Wednesday, November 27, 2013

“FOREVER Abiding” (John 15:4-5)

S-RUTH 26SAP/C 11/22/2013 Hymns: (O) #32 SOD; #457 (S) ##552; (C) #533

Texts: Isaiah 41:8-10; Rev. 21:1-7; John 11:

Theme: “FOREVER Abiding” (John 15:4-5)

Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed Alleluia! The text for the celebration of the new life promised to our departed sister Ruth is her confirmation verses Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I Am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing (John 15:4-5).


To you most precious children of the resurrection, let this day be of great comfort and joy though you are in the midst of sorrow and pain. Let it be a day of light and not of darkness. Let it be a day of blessing rather than a burden. Why? Why? Because, today, by the power of the Resurrected Christ we celebrate life not death! Today we rejoice in God keeping His promises to His beloved daughter in the faith—Ruth! Today we thank the Lord that your mother, mother-in-law, grandmother and great-great-grandmother is in the arms of the crucified and risen Christ. Today we declare to the world that Ruth is FOREVER abiding with Her faithful Good Shepherd Jesus.

I say this with great confidence because these are not my words, but the Words of the Author of Life—Jesus Christ our ONLY Lord and Savior. The sermon hymns we just sang “Abide With Me Fast Falls the Eventide” was written by Henry Lyte in 1847. Lyte was in­spired to write this hymn as he was dy­ing of tu­ber­cu­lo­sis; he fin­ished it the Sun­day he gave his fare­well ser­mon in the par­ish he served so ma­ny years. Here are some of his farewell words to his beloved congregation: “O breth­ren, I stand here among you to­day, as alive from the dead, if I may hope to im­press it upon you, and in­duce you to pre­pare for that sol­emn hour which must come to all, by a time­ly ac­quaint­ance with the death of Christ.” With these last words spoken by this preacher, he gave his congregation and us joy that fills our hearts.

The opening stanza of the hymn is this: Abide with me; fast falls the eventide; The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide. When other helpers fail and comforts flee, Help of the helpless, O abide with me. What is the goal of this hymn? To abide forever with Jesus. For this reason I have titled the sermon FOREVER abiding. I can say for certainty that our departed sister Ruth even now is abiding FOREVER in the presence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

When she was only 27 days old (Baptized Feb. 29, 1920) her parents brought her to the font at St. Peter’s Lutheran church and the minister of the Gospel spoke these precious words over her, “Ruth, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” That day, by that majestic water connected to the Word she was grafted into the eternal Vine, Jesus Christ.

Thirteen years later on her confirmation day June 4, 1933 she was given these verses from the Gospel of St. John Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I Am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. These words were of great comfort and strength for her in her earthly pilgrimage. By the grace of God she remained connected to the Vine not by her own works, but only by the grace of God her Savior.

She remained connected to the Vine as she gathered often in His house to hear His Word and dine at His table. She bore fruit of repentance and joy as she confessed her sins and received absolution. Even when she was unable to be in the Lord’s house, the Lord went to see her and give her His precious body and blood often.

Even until her final days the Holy Spirit used her to bear fruits of faith, love, compassion and kindness to others. As I visited with many of you—family members and friends you would say: “Mom loved people. Treated me like her own daughter from the day I was married into the family. She helped many who were in need. She is a great aunt. Not only by name, but truly a GREAT AUNT!

But there is more, not sure how many of you know this. Ruth paid out of her own pocket for the oil to keep the Eternity Light burning in this house of worship. I don’t share this because by these acts she earned points in the sight of God to let her into heaven. No, I share these thoughts with you because she lived the life of one who knows that to abide in Christ is to live for Christ; to declare His praises and shout to the world that I am marked forever to be His own as His very little lamb. PAUSE.

Remember that her name RUTH means “friendship” And she was a friend to many. And now she has unending friendship, only now she beholds face to face her dearest FRIEND of whom we sang “What A Friend We Have in Jesus”. I will use her name as an acrostic

R = Remained called by gospel, she was fed and led by W & S. She cherished the time she got to spend around His Word growing and maturing in that Word. She never cut herself off that vine, but was forever abiding in Him.

U = Unending existence in paradise that began when she left this world.    She is part of the unending Alleluia Chorus of the saints who are by the throne of Grace in heaven who shout saying: Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen (Rev. 7:10b-12).

T = Trusting Jesus she was not disappointed. She knew that this Jesus has kept every promise ever made. He defeated satan, destroyed death and done away with the punishment of sin. Sin has no hold on us. The grave can’t keep us and the devil can’t accuse us. Jesus has paid the payment of our redemption.

H = Hope, her hope, now realized is our hope to which we look forward too, and which often I read to her from 1 Peter “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”, (1:3-9). Hope is faith looking towards the future based on Jesus perfect keeping promises in the past. How do we remain in Him? “To obtain such faith, God instituted the Office of the Ministry, that is provide by the Gospel and Sacraments.” In this Jesus gives us a BIG promises.       

In the Gospel of St. John 15 the word “Abide or “Remain” is mentioned nine times. Jesus uses this word for a reason to assure us that He is the Vine and we are the branches without Him we can’t do anything.     

Abide with Me and I will abide with you.” Jesus said. He has done that to our departed sister Ruth. As we heard in our Gospel reading today from John: “I Am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world” (John 11:25-26).

Ruth by the power of the Holy Spirit has believed this and therefore is FOREVER ABIDING with her Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ.

My prayers for you as well are these: that you too, would remain and abide in Him. Amen.

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

Now the peace of God…


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