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Thursday, March 6, 2014

03062014 Funeral Sermon for Edna Valentine Snethen

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 heavenly Father, with Your Holy Hands you made the earth and all its creatures and at the proper time Edna and all of us gathered here this morning.  Comfort us as we mourn Edna’s entrance into the church triumphant and give us the peace that surpasses all human understanding.  For though the veil of death separates us from her today, Your Holy Hand sends us the Holy Spirit to comfort, care for and remind us of Your eternal presence from the day of creation, through the day of Edna’s baptism and even today as we gather to say goodbye.  May the salve of Your Holy Gospel shower us and remind us of the promises made to Edna and to us as we remember her this morning.  For the gift of life and salvation is for all mankind, but especially all of the saints of Edna’s family gathered here at Emmanuel to say goodbye.  AMEN.

Industriousness is not only a need, but a necessity and a characteristic of women here in Western Kansas.  No matter if it is working side by side with one’s husband or on the family farm to insure the crops are gathered in before the rain or hail storm, to slopping the hogs, feeding the chickens, making a flourishing garden from the prairie and even milking the cows.  Farm wives are a special breed and have hands that not only are hardened for the tasks on the prairie, but some farm wives have the ability to use the native plants and even the crops that help sustain their families existence to create beautiful pieces of art.  Edna was one of this rare breed of woman who could keep up with her husband and keep her boys in line, but also relax and let her mind wander as she created priceless works of art with her hands with what grew here on the plains of Northwestern Kansas.

Last year, while visiting Edna, I saw first-hand the clear beauty that she could create.  And over the next few minutes learned that this was a dying knowledge that very few people knew, understood and had passed on to future generations.  What was so clear that day was that Edna clearly had not only the hands to create, but also the patience and expertise that had been passed on to her from countless previous generations. But what was clearer was this was not the only knowledge that she possessed.

For Edna there was a clearer knowledge that she possessed that sustained her for her 95 years.  It included the truth found in our hearing from the Book of Ecclesiastes that states, ‘there is a time for everything’.  Whether to plant wheat, milk cows or even to make sure the boys are obeying the way they needed to.  There is also a time for change.  And today we stand at a crossroads, where change is tangible for each and every one of us as we mourn Edna’s entering the church triumphant.

Additionally there is a bit of knowledge that Edna knew in her heart of hearts and it is found in relationship.  Not just any relationship, but a special relationship Edna had with her Lord and Savior that began in the font with her baptism into Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection.  The relationship with her Lord and Savior not only was tangible, but it was strong even to the very end.  Since my arrival in 2010 and especially during her decline, I would visit Edna at home with communion and in the hospital.  I would always share a Word from the Lord with her and then sing a song, whether “Just as I am”, “Beautiful Savior” or one of her favorites, “Rock of Ages” and conclude with the Lord’s Prayer.  This put the clearest bookend and perfect exclamation point on our conversations no matter if we talked about farming, family or about her personal faith and relationship with Jesus Christ.  Every time I would visit and would get to the Lord’s Prayer, at that point Edna was ready and would immediately join in praying the prayer that her Lord had taught her.  Her tangible conviction didn’t just affirm her faith, but assured me that Edna was ready.

But ready for what?  Clearly we had talked about death and she was ready for her entrance into the kingdom of God and the promises found from Jesus Christ and His innocent death on Calvary.  But Edna was ready to return to Her Father in heaven.  Edna was ready to return to be in the Holy Hands of God Who had formed and shaped her in the womb.  Edna was ready to return to the Great Creator Who had formed and created her like every single piece of artwork that she had created out of the wheat that we have before us.  Edna was ready for her entrance into the Kingdom of God, because she knew the promises of grace and every blessing that awaited her were clearly and purposefully prepared by God for her.

When we had communion, whether at her home or even here at church, Edna eagerly anticipated the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.  Matter of fact, when I brought communion to Edna, I had to apologize to her, because Edna was a firm believer not only in Communion, but sharing of the Common Cup.  Whenever I would come down the aisle and give her the Body of Jesus Christ, she always asked to receive the Chalice or the Cup of Forgiveness from Jesus Christ.  Edna knew that the Hand of God had at the proper time and place had made this Holy Supper for her and she eagerly anticipated not only receipt of Jesus Christ Body, but especially the fullness of the Chalice that was the Blood of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.  For Edna knew in Whom she was baptized into and her faith helped and upheld her on her journey in life.

Granted there were times where Edna experienced in a clear and concrete way the pains of this life, from the death of a grandson, a daughter-in-law, a grandson’s spouse and even the loss of the love of her life, Bob, but through it all, Edna’s faith did not waiver.  For Edna knew in Whose hand she rested and trusted.  It was all about relationship with God for Edna and how Edna’s relationship was rooted in her baptism into Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection and by Whose hand she had been created.  And Edna wanted her grandkids to have this same relationship that she had with God.  And I have personally baptized one of her grandkids, Katarina and one of her great-grandkids, Kerri and this for Edna was how important relationship was for her and she wanted to insure their receipt of the promises of God found in baptism.

For Edna, like the creations she had made from the harvest of the earth that were of impeccable beauty, Edna was a fruit of God’s in her baptism.  And Edna knew the promises that would be fulfilled for her with the change that would occur one day with her entrance into the Kingdom of God.  Edna would not want us to mourn but to understand we can meet with her any time we would like.  How you might ask?  Well Edna knew that every time she partook of Jesus Christ innocent Body and Blood around the altar, she would feast not only with her Lord and Savior, but would meet her betrothed Bob.  We to when we come in a few minutes we will receive God’s gift of forgiveness, but clearly share with one another and now with Edna the greatest gift of forgiveness that transcends time and space.  We like our reading of Ecclesiastes states can now at the proper time, dance and embrace the greatest gift given to us from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in His precious Body and Blood, given and shed for us for the forgiveness of sins.

For these are the promises that Jesus Christ offered to Edna in her baptism and we celebrate in the fulfillment with her entrance into the Kingdom of God.  Now Edna has been changed in a moment in the twinkling of an eye and today the promises of God are fulfilled in our hearing and in our celebration of her baptism and life.  For we who gather this morning can be clearly assured of God’s promises found and fulfilled for Edna through what Jesus Christ did for Edna in her baptism.  For just as she created with her hands works of art that celebrate the harvest, today we gather to celebrate God’s greatest work by His Holy Hands, Edna’s entrance into life eternal.  May we be comforted by God’s Gospel message of salvation for each and every one of us!  And today and every time we commune come and share in this Holy Supper that was created by God’s Hands for all of mankind, but especially for the saints of Edna’s family gathered here to share Jesus Christ Body and Blood, which is given and shed for all of us for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life, now for Edna in heaven and one day for each of us.  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 Edna and each one of us!  AMEN! 
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