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Saturday, October 20, 2012

10202012 Funeral Sermon for Marie Lucy Kowalke

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!  Good and gracious Heavenly Father, as we gather here to celebrate the life of Marie our sister in Christ, You remind us of Your promises to each of us, through Your Word made flesh, Jesus Christ.  Though the struggles of this life bind her no longer, because of her being set free through her baptism into Your life, death and resurrection, Marie now rests in Your loving and comforting arms.  May we be enabled to hear Your Word spoken to us today through the Gospel so that even though the veil of death separates us, the promise made to Marie in her baptism of the Gospel of Jesus Christ may comfort us until all of us are gathered into Your arms.  For this is offered for all of mankind freely because of God’s love for us manifest in Jesus Christ innocent death on Calvary for all Your saints, especially the saints of Marie’s family and all of us gathered here at Emmanuel to say goodbye.  AMEN.

Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil”.  In this Psalm, David clearly expresses the range of emotions we feel today.  Death has come close to each of us and as a result of sin first manifest in the garden of Eden with our first parents Adam and Eve infected mankind with the reality that death would be a sure companion.  But David knew a different reality.  That reality clearly says, “I will fear no evil”.  How could David say that?

Well, David feared no evil, because he knew his God and the promises revealed throughout the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New Testament.  You see, John in his Gospel says it so clearly and eloquently, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believed in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”  Those words of promise, of Gospel and of pure grace are the reason we are here today.

Marie through the waters of baptism at Pleasant Valley Church was washed clean by the blood of the lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.  Though a child of Adam and Eve, conceived in sin, Marie was set free from sin because of her baptism into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  With the words, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” as the water was poured over her head, she no longer was bound by sin, but set free by God and given the promise that one day she would enter into eternal glory and rest in her Lord and Savior’s arms.  As she journeyed through life living in Colorado, Arkansas, Idaho and here in Goodland Marie came to her Lord’s table to receive the precious Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  In, through and by God’s gift of forgiveness as she partook of the Holy Sacrament she was strengthened for life here on earth.

And Marie held fast to the faith and knew of God’s promises and shared it in her life.  Most of you probably know that her favorite bible verse was John 3:16.  Not only did Marie, believe this, she emulated this in her life.  Whether working with the VFW auxiliary on turkey dinners for the community, travelling with the 1918 Birthday Club, spreading the Gospel through the Lutheran Woman’s Missionary League or even in the church Marie always was willing to work for God’s glory and help out wherever needed.  What is really special is that Marie cared deeply about her children, grand-children and great-grand-children.  Consistently Marie bragged about what they had done and their accomplishments, but always tempered with the knowledge that God was doing wonderful things through them and she was proud of the people they had become by God’s grace.

This same pride Marie had is the pride that God offers to each of us through the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ.  For God’s promise to each of us is clear.  Remember the words we sang earlier about the “Old Rugged Cross”.  This cross is an emblem of ‘suffering and shame’ that Jesus Christ ‘suffered and died’ and endured because of His great love for all of us.  And John understood this clearly when he says, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”  That is the Gospel promise we need to hear clearly today spoken to and for each of us from God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

May we be comforted today by the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ as we mourn.  May His rod and staff comfort us not only by His presence, but with the promise of salvation for all of mankind that He won on the “Old Rugged Cross”.  For you see, this song, “Old Rugged Cross” that we processed in with was written by George Bennard  in the early 1900’s.  After great struggle trying to pen a worthwhile song, God inspired Bennard to pen this song that tells the Gospel message of Jesus Christ so clearly.  This song was written in such a way that for Bennard, the words from John 3:16 came off the written page in this song.  He introduced it in a revival that he was preaching at and it became an instant hit and mainstay for the rest of the 20th Century.  For us today it clearly tells how Marie has been called home and now shares with Jesus Christ the crown of righteousness won on the “Old Rugged Cross” for her and for all of us.

For the faith given by God to Marie in her baptism enables her and us to not only call Jesus our friend, but enable us to “carry everything to God in prayer”.  For Marie is now at “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” and this same peace God offers to all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel, because of the free grace offered to us through the Gospel of Jesus Christ for all of mankind, including all of her family gathered here today to say goodbye.  Hold onto that peace and may it surround you and shield you and may you find solace there, because of “How Great God is” for all of mankind including all of us saints gathered here to say goodbye.  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 Marie and each one of us!  AMEN!
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