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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

10112013 Funeral for Lee Rivers Highland

Sermon Audio

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 Lord, as we gather here to celebrate the life of Lee who has been washed by the Blood of the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world, remind us that Lee found peace in receiving the sacrament of Holy Baptism.  No longer will the pains of memory of this life bind him, for it is in, through and by his baptism into Your life, death and resurrection that Lee now rests in Your loving arms.  May Your Gospel message of salvation given to us and which we share around the altar today remind us not only of Your love for us, but how the veil of death that separates us today from Lee cannot separate us from the love You have for us that is manifest in the meal of Your precious Body and Blood that we share with him around the altar this morning.  May we be comforted by this thought and truth and allow the salve of Your Gospel message to embrace us in Your loving arms offered by Your Son Jesus Christ innocent death on Calvary for all of Your saints, especially including all of the saints of Lee’s family gathered here at Emmanuel to say goodbye.  AMEN.

The 23rd Psalm reads in part, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” we certainly can relate to this biblical image today.  We are here today in this valley mourning the loss of Lee.  But is this a valley or are we on a mountain top?  Consider if you will the 23rd Psalm is meant to be a Psalm of comfort, but also to point directly to a promise from God for each of us today.  It is the promise of the message of salvation and the comfort that God offers to each of us today that we lay claim to as we gather together remembering the stories of Lee’s life and how we came to know him and how we share today the message of the victory over sin, death and the devil on the mountaintop, not in a valley.  This message I as Pastor bring to you today, but remember that Lee was a message bearer as well.

If I were to begin, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night…[anybody know what this is from?  Or how it ends?  It continues]…stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”  Yes, this is the unofficial mantra or motto that many of us heard about mail carriers like Lee.  Ironically it is originally from an ancient Greek work by Herodotus that describes the Persian system of mounted postal carriers from approximately 500 years before Christ.  It was made famous because of its inscription on the James Farley Post Office in New York City and has found its way into song and legend about our United States Postal Service of which Lee was a member for many years as a Postmaster and rural mail carrier.

I tell this anecdote because mail carriers like Lee not only were responsible for the delivery of mail, but carried packages and even mail order poultry, mail order clothes and carriers even today deliver items that were only a dream in the minds of innovators not ten years ago, but more importantly mail carriers carried messages.  For some people today mail and the messages they convey are outdated due to the internet and instant messaging, texting or even cell phones or Face time chatting and for mail today the messages are only important to the sender and receiver.  But for all of us gathered here today, the message we have heard today of the Gospel of Salvation has been heard not only in the lessons read, but the liturgy and especially in what we will receive later in Holy Communion.  The message carried and proclaimed to us today is important for all Christians of all time and all space, especially Lee and all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel, whether sitting in the pews or as we gather around the Table of our Lord with all the Saints of All time and All place on the other side of the altar in eternity.

The message we have and need to hear today and share is that Jesus Christ came and personally lived and delivered the message of salvation for all of mankind, including Lee and each and every one of us here today.  Nothing, not even World War or Satan could keep this message from getting through.  It is a message that impacts both God the sender and we the receiver today.  The message of salvation that Lee heard later in life and acted upon in being baptized not only tells a story, it fulfills a promise made by God from the formation of the world to our very existence today.  Clearly Jesus Christ sacrifice on Calvary was for all of mankind and this is a message that we have the opportunity to retell and proclaim, but we also can remember that this is a message the Old Testament prophets foretold, whether by Isaiah or the Psalmist David that we have heard from today. 

This is also a message we lay claim to today as we remember Lee and his baptism into Jesus story of salvation.  Just as Lee was a surgical nurse during some of the worst battles on the Pacific Theater during World War II, endured the hardships of losing friends and comrades as well as men and women who laid on the operating tables due to their injuries, the message and meaning of loss hit home for him as well as many other heroes that served our country and insured our opportunity to worship and gather here this morning to say goodbye.

Yet, the message that we need to share today and proclaim from the mountain top we are on today is not the completion of Lee’s appointed rounds, nor the finality of death or being in the valley of the shadow of death, but how Lee now has eternal life with His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ because of the message first given to him of the Gospel of salvation.  We here today celebrate the gift of eternal life offered for all of mankind through Jesus Christ and the message of salvation.  Just as Jesus modelled humility for mankind and sacrificed Himself on the Cross of Calvary, we celebrate how Lee modelled this for his children and for our nation as a soldier who lived in harms way, even ready to storm the beaches of Japan to insure our freedom. 

The model Lee lived for his family, community and world was first modelled perfectly by Jesus Christ and how He offered Himself as the sacrifice for Lee and for all of mankind.  This is the message that we remember as we come and celebrate the Lord’s Supper around the altar of the Lord today.  This meal not only contains the message of salvation, but is a perfect reminder of God’s sacrifice for all of mankind.  This is the message of eternal life and salvation that Jesus Christ promises us as we gather here this morning and remember, not only the carrier of the mail, but more importantly the carrier of the message of salvation found in Jesus Christ for Lee, for all of mankind, but especially for all of the saints of Lee’s family that gather 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 Lee and each one of us!  AMEN! 
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