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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sermon 02202013 Funeral Sermon Etta Butts

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, we come together this afternoon mourning the loss of Etta, but reassured of the promises You made to her and each of us in our baptism.  We know Etta now rests in Your loving arms and we are reassured of the promise of life and salvation given to her and now fulfilled with her entrance into the Church Triumphant.  For today Etta has the resurrected perfect body that no longer has neither pains nor ills and now rests with You in Your loving arms.  Though the veil of death separates us today from Etta, may we be comforted by Your Gospel and hear clearly the promise of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the message of salvation offered through Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection for all of mankind, but especially the saints of Etta’s family and all the saints 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.”  This verse from the most beloved Psalm written by King David not only tells a story it clearly illustrates for us the life of a little girl who was born in a sod house outside of Goodland and lived a life that few people today could believe or even imagine, but this was the life of Etta Butts a baptized child of God.

Born in 1916 outside of Goodland weighing a mere three pounds, Etta Laurene Butts was baptized in Water and Word of Holy Baptism that very Spring and experienced in her lifetime some of the most radical changes in society the world and her life.  They included transitioning from horse and buggy to the automobile, her family being one of the last families to use horse and mule teams exclusively to farm, travel across the United States from trains to planes to outer space and even the moon, experiencing segregation in its prime in the drug store during the war to equal rights and the liberation of women to serve in offices at the highest level of government, to the invention of the modern telephone, television, computers and now cell phones that nearly every person carries and relies upon.

Yet, the common things which Etta saw and experienced that formed and shaped her were not from society, but the values that were instilled in her by her parents and that she modeled and carried throughout her life.  Modeled for her was the importance of God, church, baptism, preaching and catechism instruction.  On one of the many visits I had with Etta while still living alone, we looked at her original catechism that she had while taking instruction and talked about her being taught by the Pastor to become a Confirmed member of the church.  This was after her family had moved to town due to the depression and dust bowl and while she was working for a Catholic family here in town taking care of the kids and cooking and cleaning.  It was very clear that when Etta’s family lived in town if the church doors were open, they were here and their faith was vibrant and strong and this was true even until she entered Good Samaritan a little over a year ago.

Psalm 23 which Etta chose for one of her readings begins with this thought, “The Lord is my shepherd” and Etta and her family understood and emulated this Psalm clearly. Their faith in God wasn’t mere lip service, but shown in how they worked, believed and treated other people.  It is clear that Etta had instilled from a young age a work ethic that served her well throughout her life earning her the trust of the community, honors and accolades by her peers and ultimately the knowledge and pride in knowing her work at Good Samaritan in her own words, was “doing something for someone” who needed the help.

God as Etta’s shepherd made this a reality through and by her baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The muscle of faith given to her sustained her throughout her life and even was evident from her preparation for this morning’s service.  You see Etta was a planner and had everything planned for our service this morning, from music, to pall bearers to even the scripture passages.  For the 23rd Psalm, Psalm 119 and John 14 were her choices that clearly expressed her trust in her Lord and Savior as her shepherd, that God has prepared a place for her in His kingdom and that this only occurs because of God’s Word being a lamp unto her feet and a light unto her path.

This faith given to Etta occurred through her baptism into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It was not an accident, but a reality that her parents knew was extremely important.  With her being washed in the Blood of the Lamb of God, Etta became a child of God and experienced the greatest blessing of all time and place.  These were the promises her family knew would shepherd her into eternal life and spending all eternity with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

For the promise Etta experienced is the same promise offered this morning to each of us from our Gospel and Psalms that God has not only prepared a place for Etta, but also for each and every one of us.  God clearly through the Gospel of Jesus Christ offers us life and salvation and by and through the waters of Holy Baptism fulfilled this for Etta when God called her home.  My fondest memory of Etta is sharing her faith in her home with Holy Communion and praying the Lord’s Prayer with her.  The strength of her conviction comforts me and enables me to proclaim clearly for all of us gathered here today that Etta rests from her labors in her Lord and Saviors loving arms. 

May we feel God’s peace, may it continue to gather us into His presence and may all of us saints gathered here to say good bye believe in the promises of God that were the firm convictions of Etta of the gift of God of His Son and our Savior Jesus Christ for all of mankind, but especially for all of the saints of Etta’s family and friends 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 Etta and each one of us!  AMEN! 
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