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Thursday, February 6, 2014

02052014 Funeral Olinda Peter Hesse

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!  Good and gracious Lord, creator of heaven and earth, as we mourn for Olinda, remind us that we are on a journey in life, which has milestones along the road.  The destination is secure of heaven and Olinda now rests in Your loving arms.  Comfort us as we mourn and enable us to lay claim to the truth found in and heard in the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the salve for our souls that promised Olinda eternal life in her baptism.  For Your promises are sure and mark not only the milestones in our lives, but remind us of our sure destination with You in Your Kingdom.  May we be comforted with this truth and hear clearly the Gospel message of salvation You offered Olinda and all of mankind especially including all of the saints of her family and friends gathered here at Emmanuel to say goodbye.  AMEN.

Benjamin Franklin wrote the following in 1789 (to Jean-Baptiste Leroy):

“Our new Constitution is now established, 

and has an appearance that promises permanency;
but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

Since that time, there has not been a generation that has not heard that iconic phrase.  Ironically in 1913, the United States Government enacted the first federal income tax, and later in the year, June 17th to be specific, Olinda Peter was born to Henry and Katie Peter in Sidney, NE.  Within her lifetime, Olinda experienced many milestones that formed, shaped and transformed her life and the lives of the entire world and today we gather to mourn her passing as she has reached the final milestone in her journey here on earth.

Yet, this milestone of death is not one for mourning, but a milestone that was foretold in scripture and undoubtedly connects to us today.  For in Holy Scripture God said that mankind would die because of sin which had entered the world through Adam and Eve, and this milestone could not be prevented by any human action.  But God could and did act and changed the landscape and milestones in life with the promises He made for all of mankind, including Olinda and that milestone was what His Son Jesus Christ did for us on the Cross of Calvary.  In her life Olinda partook of lots of milestones beginning at her birth then her baptism where the Water connected with God’s Word made her a child of God that bestowed eternal life through Jesus Christ sacrifice, to her confirmation where she took the personal responsibility for her faith and her marriage where the two became one.  Olinda met each of these milestones head on and they became not only a marker and place holder, but a beacon on the landscape of her life.

These beacons were not unlike ones that she enjoyed as she grew up on the plains of Western Kansas with her brothers.  For Olinda the beacons included barns that not only showed family homesteads, but held hay, cattle, chickens and pigs, the beacons across the prairies included smokestacks that seemed to rise from plains, which were actually the sod houses of the era and even windmills that gave life giving water.  Since Olinda was a farm girl in the truest sense, really a tom-boy if truth be told, she mainly wore slacks instead of a dress and only when she was courted by her soon to be husband would she relent and wear attire that was more appropriate for ladies, but given the opportunity for fun, dresses were out, especially for a beacon that was in the front yard of the family farm a windmill.  As a farm icon, landmark and milestone, the family windmill was not just a necessity for water but even a point and place where she and her brothers would scale and play to their mothers chagrin.  But these are the milestones and landmarks that connected Olinda to farm, family and a future that was centered in the church.

With Olinda being raised on a farm and in a family that not only had the yearly challenges of harvest either of plenty or paltry, a milestone or beacon for her became the steeple outside the church, that reminded her what Holy Scripture said and the passage of Timothy that we heard earlier that clearly illustrates Olinda’s long life of 39, 49 or 100 years depending upon her wit of the day.  Timothy wrote, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith”.  This is the course and faith found in the milestones that Olinda experienced in her personal life, whether she drove from Goodland to St. Francis around the curves at the county line to visit her daughter, the milestones of meeting at the chicken house which was not only a landmark in the middle of nowhere, but a house and home to play cards with friends, since it was the best and only landmark for miles around.  Or the milestone of holidays that always meant she was baking cupcakes that people would stop by to have since she made the best cupcakes on 13th Street.  Olinda looked, lived and overcame each milestones that was part of her life.

Yet, in her life there were milestones and memories that were not joyful, pleasant or easy, from the loss of both her husbands, her son-in-law or her only daughter and her loss of freedom upon her entrance into Wheat Ridge and eventually Good Samaritan.  Olinda had her share of heart aches, but throughout it all, God did not abandon her, nor forsake her.  God was her constant companion in cooking, gardening, feeding her grandchildren and great-grandchildren ice cream or her grape or rhubarb preserve from her own home grown garden.  God continued to give her inspiration, purpose and drive as well as other milestones in her family and her mission to care for others, including the little paper girl that delivered the papers in the cold that she cared for and about by daily giving her a warm place to dry off, and even a warm bite to eat and drink.  And this sense of purpose Olinda received as well in her hearing the Word of God and the promises offered to her by Jesus Christ and the offer of salvation on Calvary for her and us.

Clearly the most recent milestone was Olinda’s celebration of her 100th Birthday.  Not only is it a milestone of age, but a milestone to have heard God’s Word for over 100 years.  In her 100 years, Olinda heard more about what Jesus Christ had done for her than most and even to her last days still firmly held onto her feisty attitude, but more importantly her faith and belief in the promises of God.  Olinda as Timothy said, through the grace of God ‘kept the faith’ to the very end.

On my last visit to see Olinda, we talked about the aches and pains of life, but I also shared with her Holy Scriptures and we prayed together.  When I began with the Lord’s Prayer, it was as if she was transformed before my very eyes and the woman who drove with a lead foot and feisty spirit reemerged and prayed that prayer with me.  Clearly the curves in her life had been sharp ones, but as she would say, “curves are really fun if you take them fast” and she clearly was ready to take the last milestone curve that would bring her home to be with her Lord and Savior very fast.

And so we today gather here not only celebrating the life of a woman who was innovative, by having her grandson paint the sidewalk with water, but cared deeply about her family and shared her love of cooking with her granddaughter.  We also celebrate the greatest milestone of her baptism and now her entrance into the Kingdom of God having “fought a good fight,…finished my course, [and]…kept the faith”.  For Olinda now rests in her Lord and Savior’s arms and now can mark this milestone complete.  May we be comforted by the promises of God fulfilled for Olinda through her baptism and faith in God’s promises and that are offered for all of mankind, including all of the saints of her family and 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 Olinda and each one of us!  AMEN! 
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