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Monday, October 1, 2012

10012012 Funeral Sermon for Clarice Arlene Yaste Martell

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer!!  AMEN!!

Let us pray!  Gracious Heavenly Father, as we gather here to celebrate the life of Clarice our sister in Christ, we are reminded that in You she has found the peace of Jesus Christ.  The struggles of this life no longer bind her, because in, through and by her baptism into Your life, death and resurrection, she now rests in Your loving and comforting arms.  May our hearts be enabled to hear Your Word spoken in its truth and purity and comfort us as we mourn.  For though the veil of death separates us today from Clarice, we are sure of the certain promise You made to us in our baptism that in being baptized into Your death we are certainly raised with You in Your resurrection.  Comfort us with this thought and let the salve of Your Gospel message spoken to Clarice on the day of her baptism and lived in her life daily surround us so we may hear clearly the Gospel message of the salvation offered through Jesus Christ innocent death on Calvary for all Your saints, especially the saints of her family and those gathered here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

The saying “It will be the death of me” is usually said ‘tongue and cheek’ by faithless individuals who half-jokingly and half seriously make an outlandish claim or statement if something were to occur.  Ironically even Clarice who had an extremely strong faith said these words in the last month about of all things a bowl and pitcher.  But the plot thickens, this same bowl and pitcher, Clarice made while taking a pottery class and were prominently displayed in her house.  And as fate would have it, the bowl and pitcher caused her to fall recently prior to her departure for Hays and ultimately her entrance into the church triumphant.  But this pitcher and bowl are for all of us and especially the family a symbol of something far greater and much more meaningful.

In our Gospel this afternoon, Jesus Christ models for all of us the true role of a servant.  In humble obedience to His Father’s will, He strips Himself of all authority given to Him by His Father in heaven and kneels in front of each of the disciples and washes their feet.  When I was in seminary, the president of the seminary and his wife actually did this for the graduates on the day of our graduation.  This was a very humbling experience.  So to Jesus, using a pitcher and bowl not unlike the one made by Clarice, Jesus Christ in humility pours water over the tired and worn feet of His disciples.  With the brokenness clearly evident in the disciple’s faces and lives, Jesus in humility drying their feet becomes a servant for them and modeled for Clarice and us today how grace is freely offered.

Paul in his letter to the Romans says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand”     This same grace Paul speaks of is clearly manifest in Jesus simple action of washing the disciples feet.  Jesus is offering the disciples not only free grace and humble service, but in bathing their feet is preparing the disciples for what is coming.  Paul continues as he writes, “knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance, and perseverance, proven character, and proven character, hope” is a preparation for the trials and tribulations they would endure after Jesus death and ascension into heaven.  Thus, Jesus Christ was preparing the disciples for the promised Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, for Paul says, “because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us”.  This love is clearly manifest for us today draped over Clarice’s casket.

You see the off-white pall with the cross that is draped over the casket of Clarice this afternoon is a reminder of God’s love “poured out…and given” to and for each and every one of us, but especially today of, for and surrounding Clarice.  The pall is a tangible reminder of God reaching down into Clarice’s life and in, through and by the waters of Holy Baptism redeeming her by the Blood of the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the World.  The Pall is a clear tangible reminder for all of us today of Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection that all of us have been baptized into.  For it is through, by and on account of God’s gift of Grace offered to us that we have been “justified by faith…and…we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”.  This is a gift of God given for all of us through our baptism and a reminder for all of us with the Pall over the casket.

Paul says it clearly, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  Or one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  We who have been baptized into Jesus Christ’ life, death and resurrection have had “the love of God…poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who was given to us”.  God through baptism redeemed Clarice and all of us and promises us eternal life and salvation.

It is very clear that not only are we offered life and salvation, but also the forgiveness of sins.  You see today though we lay Clarice to rest next to Jeffrey and Earl, in a few minutes when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper we join together with all the saints in glory in the feast of God’s precious Body and Blood.  Through our participating in the receipt of Jesus Christ precious Body and Blood ‘given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins’ we join at the table of the Lord with all the saints of all time and all place, including Clarice, her husband Earl and sons Jeffrey and Ed.  We in the most mysterious and intimate communion of all celebrate God’s love for all of us in the mystery of Holy Communion.  And in Holy Communion we can and do find “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”.  This peace is offered us in this sacramental meal that unites us with Clarice and all the saints who have entered the church triumphant.

For this gift of grace offered to and for us is freely offered because of God’s demonstration of His great love for all of us.  And this gift of grace is exactly what Clarice and Earl modeled for their children and we actually see surrounding us today.  You see not only do we share in the Great Thanksgiving, we are also surrounded by a multitude of gifts that Clarice was personally involved in.  Clarice believed in God’s grace and she showed it with her hands and heart giving God the glory.  The quilts that surround us today on the pews have been touched by Clarice and we have them on the pews as a reminder and in honor of God’s gift to each of us of Clarice in our lives.  These quilts are a direct result of God’s grace manifest in Clarice’s life and offered for others by Clarice because she clearly and rightly believed and understood the saying concerning God’s gifts, ‘freely received and freely given’.

I had many opportunities to talk with Clarice about her faith and the strength of it, but for me as pastor, while visiting with her the Thursday before her entrance into the church triumphant, was most special.  She reaffirmed her faith and desire to go home to be with her Lord.  And now Clarice is finally at peace with God.  It is a peace that surpasses all human understanding and has guarded her heart, soul and spirit.  Clarice trusted Jesus Christ free offer of grace and knew she could not earn her salvation, for it was the greatest gift from God for her and for all of mankind.  Thus Clarice is now at “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” and now rests from her labors because of what Jesus Christ did on the Cross of Calvary.  That is the grace offered all of us saints that are gathered here at Emmanuel, surrounded by the love of Jesus Christ and which we receive in the Lord’s Supper with the words “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”  May God’s grace be poured from a pitcher upon you, wash you clean by the Blood of the Lamb and cover you like a pall and blanket as a reminder of your baptism into Jesus Christ humble and obedient life, death and resurrection as you receive His precious Body and Blood with all the saints including, Jeffrey, Ed, Earl and now Clarice.  AMEN.

Now may the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard our hearts and minds and comfort us today, because of what Jesus Christ did for Clarice and each one of us!  AMEN!

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