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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

11162013 Funeral Sermon for Esther Leona Reams Splattstoesser

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!  Lord of heaven and earth, out of the depths we have cried to You and You have heard our voices of sadness and supplication for the loss of Esther.  In Your first calling Esther in Holy Baptism You promised her eternal life and now with her entrance into eternity, You fulfill Your promise to her and to us through Your Son Jesus Christ.  May we today be comforted with the salve of Your Gospel message and the offer of grace for each and every one of us.  Now that the veil of death separates us from Esther, may Your love manifest in the sacrifice of Your Son Jesus Christ be a healing balm for each of us.  For we today wait just as Esther did for our call to enter into Your Kingdom with all of the saints, including, Walter, Theodore, Ronald and now Esther as they are fully embraced in Your loving arms.  This occurs only because of Jesus Christ innocent death on Calvary for all mankind, especially including all of the saints of Esther’s family gathered here at Emmanuel to say goodbye.  AMEN.

If I were to say, “Wait for a tip”, at first glance you might think I was referring to a waiter or waitress at an eating establishment like Crazy ‘R’s’ here in town, Red Lobster, Montana Mikes or Applebee’s in the larger cities or even one of the 5-Star restaurants that only has fine linens on the tables and the entrĂ©es which cost more than most of us make on a farm for an afternoons labor.  But this is not the kind of ‘tip’ I am talking about.  Now if I said, “Wait for a dance to end, some like Nadine and Gary would nod their heads and know exactly what I am talking about.  For a segment of the population here in the United States, the dance I am referring to is fondly known as Square Dancing.  For Esther and her life-long partner Walter, they lived, ate breathed and even used as a baby sitter the Square Dances.  While preparing for this morning, Nadine shared that at only six months old, she was being taken to the dances and grew up learning the passion of her parents, Square dancing.  This passion took them to sawdust covered saloons, dance halls and even across the country living out their passion and love of Square Dancing.  But what is ironic is that Esther never had to wait for a tip or dance while she had her partner Walter.  Yet for these last number of years, Esther was waiting for a tip or a new dance partner since Walter died, and today we celebrate His arrival to carry her home.

This morning we use Psalm 130 as the basis of our meditation, because even David, the King who not only loved to sing, dance and play the harp, but also write, penned this Psalm about waiting that clearly connects with not only Square Dancing, but also with waiting that Esther did in her final days here on earth.  David clearly alluded to waiting when he said, in verse 5 “I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.”  Esther waited for God and remained in great hope for God’s promise to be fulfilled, but it was not a ‘wait in vain’ like some in our society claim or others would do while dancing of  waiting for a partner.  Or at a 4-H competition waiting for the judges to get there or come back with a verdict or waiting for a potential buyer to make a decision on a project of baking or sewing that took long hours to complete.  The waiting that David and Esther waited for was God’s return.  It was not uncertain, but certain.  It was not in doubt, but it was a fact of reality that would occur, the only thing that was uncertain was the when.

While visiting on the phone and in person with Esther we talked about our waiting and what it really required and meant.  Clearly Esther was proud of all of her kids and grandkids.  She would tell of all of their exploits, whether new grandkids, her pride of what they had accomplished both in their families and in school and even when their birthdays were coming next.  Esther constantly waited for the next big event in their lives and their sharing it with her as only a grandmother could hear and smile and take pride in their accomplishments.  But for Esther like all of us, waiting is not an easy task for anyone, just ask any 3 or 4 year old to wait five minutes, but for an adult like Esther, especially when one’s partner has entered the church triumphant waiting for a reunion with their betrothed and with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit is always a challenge.  Yet, each time I would share in this struggle with Esther, I would bring and share something that would make waiting a little more bearable.  At times, like in worship, I would offer God’s Holy Scriptures in order to comfort and point to the coming and fulfillment of the promise of salvation in Jesus Christ.  But still at other times I would bring what we know as a foretaste of the feast to come, Holy Communion to strengthen Esther as she waited on God’s good and perfect time.

Today, we celebrate that God’s time has been fulfilled, not only of Esther’s reunion with the Holy Trinity, but also with Walter, Theodore, Ronald and her parents, but also and especially the wait is now over of Jesus Christ coming to take Esther home to be in His Kingdom.  Esther’s eternal dance partner has arrived to take her home.  This promise made in Esther’s baptism, confirmed in 1949 where she took personal responsibility for her spiritual life, has been fulfilled through God’s grace first offered on the Cross of Calvary for all mankind by Jesus Christ death on Calvary and within our lifetime.  Just as David said in Psalm 130, “with the Lord there is mercy” and it has been fulfilled in our presence.  God has chosen Esther as His partner in the greatest dance feast in His Kingdom.  And in this fact we can take the greatest comfort.  The wait is now over, the dance can begin and now Esther is partnered with Jesus Christ for all eternity in His kingdom.

But this new dance only occurs because as David said, because “He [that is God] shall redeem” and that is the promise and fulfillment of salvation we celebrate today for Esther.  This offer of salvation is not just ‘because’, but it is a genuine offer from God of salvation for all of mankind to redeem us from our sins.  Our Savior, Jesus Christ redeems us with His life, death and resurrection and offers Himself in order that we might be set free from our earthly bindings.  Esther has been set free from all sickness and given a new resurrected body to dance with Jesus Christ since she heard His call in baptism and now Esther has heeded His call for her to come home.  May we be comforted by the thought that Esther waits no longer and we who remain wait for our call by God for our redemption and our entrance into the feast that is to come for all of mankind, including all the saints of Esther’s family and Emmanuel gathered here to say good-bye.  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 Esther and each one of us!  AMEN! 
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