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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sermon 02162013 Funeral Sermon for Judy Willems

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 God and creator of the Garden of Eden, as we gather to celebrate and remember our sister in Christ, Judy, we who continue on our pilgrimage know Your hands not only created the beauty of Judy’s gardens, but have now given her a resurrected body and perfect peace only found in Jesus Christ.  In, through and by her baptism into Your life, death and resurrection, Judy now rests in Your loving arms and tends Your heavenly garden.  May we through Your Gospel message be enabled to hear Your Word spoken in its truth and purity and may it comfort us as we mourn.  For though the veil of death separates us today, Your promise made to Judy in her baptism reminds us that in being baptized into Your death, we will certainly be raised with You in Your resurrection.  Keep us secure in this promise and allow the salve of Your Gospel message to surround us as we hear the clear message of salvation offered through Jesus Christ death on Calvary for all Your saints, especially the saints of Judy’s family gathered here at Emmanuel to say goodbye.  AMEN.

Tom Bodett has for the last 20+ years become the iconic voice for Motel 6 advertising on both radio and television, with the phrase, “We’ll leave the light on for you.”  And now etched in the minds of everyone is not only this phrase but what it encapsulates in caring for the customers who are looking for a good nights sleep.  But it isn’t just about sleep, it is a voice, the voice of Bodett, and a clear sense of reassurance that some would say is only a dream in our day and age, but for all of us gathered here this morning, it is an abject reality found for us in Holy Scripture and the voice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ from the Gospel.

Our Gospel lesson this morning in a much deeper and more profound way tells, not in the imperfect way of advertisers, but in the true and everlasting Words of Jesus Christ how God doesn’t only leave the light on, but actually prepares a place for us.  Jesus says, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.”  This promise made by God from Jesus Christ clearly illustrates for us today the promises that are made to us today and especially for Judy as we come to say our final goodbyes.

God in His infinite wisdom from the beginning of time created the heavens and the earth.  As creator God made everything that existed, including but not limited to the Garden of Eden and the earth with all the trees, flowers and beauty that surrounds us today.  Judy child of God, baptized by God in the Waters of Holy Baptism where she was clothed in the blood of the Lamb of God has not only been redeemed by Jesus Christ, she also learned from God how to be a master gardener.  Just as Jesus Christ entered into the world to redeem the world and went back to the Father ‘to prepare a place for us’, Jesus made a promise for Judy and for all of us today.

The promise Jesus continues saying, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”  This promise is made to all of mankind but especially to and for us Christians and especially for Judy as we lay claim to it today as we say goodbye to Judy.  The promise made to us is meant to comfort us as we mourn, calm our doubts and fears afflicted by the devil and our society and remind us that God has laid claim to our lives through our baptism into Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection.  For it is through Judy’s baptism by the Water intimately connected with the Word that she now basks in her Saviors arms and is now with Him fulfilling Jesus promise, that “there you may be also.”  Just as Judy who was an excellent homemaker, cook, master gardener and friend, found in Jesus Christ the forgiveness of sins, and eternal life given to her by her baptism and nourished around this altar with His precious Body and Blood, it has now been fulfilled because of the promise of Jesus Christ going to prepare a place for her and for all of us in His Kingdom.

As a mother, homemaker, friend, farmers wife and master gardener Judy clearly understood the need for preparing the soil with the right proportions of fertilizer and organic material, watering the plants so they would not roast in the Kansas wind and heat, and harvesting the bounty that God had given on the vine or in the ground.  This same preparation and dedication that Judy gave to her garden and offered to the community through her passion of the Farmer’s Market and maintaining the flowers around here at Emmanuel are an excellent illustration and manifestation of Judy’s faith in how God had prepared a place for her in His heavenly Kingdom.  God’s preparation in heaven for Judy and for all of us is a clear reassurance of His grace offered for all of mankind, with the greatest promise attached to it.

God promises for all of mankind and especially Judy today is Jesus own words said to Thomas at the conclusion of the text.  “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”  Jesus words to Thomas remind us this morning that God’s promises are not only revealed to us through His Scriptures that we read and have heard this morning.  God’s promises are manifest for all of us when we look at His creation.  Judy with her own hands, head and heart encountered Jesus Christ with her planting the seeds in her garden, watering each and every plant she grew and using every fruit and vegetable in the dishes that fed her family, friends, church and community.  Judy encountered in the most personal way our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ especially when she partook around this altar His precious Body and Blood just as we are about to do.

For what we receive in, through and by Jesus Christ sacrifice is eternal life.  While Judy was in the hospital I had the honor and extreme pleasure to visit her and not only share in prayer and God’s Word, but also share Holy Communion with her.  One of the mystical parts of our receiving the sacrament is that we receive Jesus Christ precious Body and Blood not alone, but with all of the saints of all time and all place in celebration of Jesus Christ sacrifice on Calvary for all of mankind.  So to today as we come forward in a few minutes we now will share not only with one another this feast, but also with Judy and all the saints who have entered into the Church Triumphant.  May this meal remind us of God’s perfect preparation not only of a place for us, but of His great love for all of mankind, including Judy and all of the saints of her family who come to commune with her and 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 God’s preparation for Judy and each one of us!  AMEN! 

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