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Thursday, February 19, 2015

02192015 Funeral Sermon for John Darrel Willems

Funeral Sermon for John Darrel Willems


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 God and creator of heaven and earth, as we gather to remember and celebrate our brother in Christ, Darrel, we know You planted not only the seed that sprouted in the Garden of Eden, but created Darrel to be a farmer who planted seeds of wheat as a farmer here in Northwest Kansas.  Yet today, we gather mourning his entrance into the church triumphant, but are firmly assured of the seed of the Gospel planted in his life, manifest in his baptism, fed by Your Word here in Your house and nourished by his receipt of the Body and Blood of Your Son and His and our Savior, Jesus Christ from around this altar.  Cover us and comfort us with Your Holy Spirit as we mourn and keep us secure in the promise of the salve of the Gospel that proclaims the clear message of salvation offered through Jesus Christ death on Calvary for all of Your saints, especially the saints of Darrel’s family and friends gathered here at Emmanuel to say goodbye.  AMEN.

Two years ago this very week of the liturgical calendar in the days that followed Ash Wednesday, we gathered to remember Darrel’s betrothed, Judy.  Separated by space and time, we again gather, singing some of the same songs, hearing the same lessons and praying the same prayers, but today we gather to say goodbye to Darrel.  Today we acknowledge the clear reality that death has again visited us.  But we come here today not to proclaim the victory of death, but to proclaim a more profound victory.

The victory we come to proclaim and celebrate today Isaiah the prophet clearly preached, proclaimed and punctuated with these words.  Today we come “To proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God”.  For today we come to proclaim the vengeance of our God in the victory Isaiah found of the good news of salvation.  It is the good news of salvation found in Jesus Christ.  On May 28, 1950, John Darrel Willems was washed clean in the blood of the lamb of God that took away the sin of the world.  Jesus Christ on that day claimed Darrel in the waters of Holy Baptism and offered him the gift of eternal life.  And today we gather to put the final exclamation point on the life of John Darrel Willems.

Granted, the Darrel all of us knew, who some would swear had nine lives because of his brushes with mortality on more than one occasion, was a quiet man that liked to get a rise out of or elicit a reaction from the nurses and staff at Good Sam and even his own family.  When I arrived here at Emmanuel in 2010, Darrel was a shell of the man he once was, but still had the glint in his eye and that spirit of fun coursing through his veins.  Having lived his life here in Northwest Kansas, served in the National Guard and planted more wheat than I can even imagine, Darrel lived as one who had not only the scars of life and the brushes with death, but as one who was surrounded by a family that loved him and put up with his antics and loved him all the more.  Still living on the farm with Judy and Kyle, I remember celebrating our first Christmas here in Kansas with Darrel’s family.  And looking at Darrel across the table and seeing the legacy he had not just of his children, but even his grandchild Kaylee.  But it was not just a legacy of pride in the free spirit of Lezlee, the artistic ability of Kyle or that his youngest son Kent had followed in his footsteps and become a well-known and respected farmer here in Sherman County.  Darrel’s legacy with his wife Judy was found as well here in the church.

Isaiah reminds us that God and the church has a clear purpose for we who gather here today, even on the day after Ash Wednesday where we received the Ashen Cross.  God sent His Son Jesus Christ “To comfort all who mourn, To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.”  Today we gather to be comforted with the Word of God that became flesh and dwelt among us, Jesus Christ.  Today, the day after Ash Wednesday still with a small smudge of ash on our forehead, we can find solace and peace through Jesus Christ and lay claim to the garland offered to us through what Jesus Christ did on the Cross of Calvary for Darrel and for each of us.  Just as any good farmer knows, when they plant the seed in the soil, whether like Darrel did of wheat in the fall, or corn in the spring, the planting is just the beginning of the journey.  So to for Darrel on that faithful Sunday in 1950, God planted the seed of the Gospel firmly in his life and it began a journey that sees its completion today.

For today, we gather remembering Darrel, his smile, his wry sense of humor, his legacy in Lezlee, Kyle and Kent and their lives.  But today we especially gather to remember the legacy found in the seed planted in the waters of Holy Baptism, nourished by the Body and Blood of the Lamb of God, and harvested last week with Darrel’s entrance into the church triumphant.  We gather today to as Isaiah said, “To proclaim…freedom”.  No longer is Darrel held captive by the limitations of his earthly body.  We “proclaim the favorable year of the Lord”.  God has won the victory, the battle is now over for Darrel because of what Jesus Christ did on the Cross of Calvary for Darrel and for each and every one of us.  And today, Darrel now wears not just the “mantle of praise”, God “has clothed Darrel with the garment of salvation” for all eternity.  God has “wrapped Darrel with the robe of righteousness” and now holds him united with his betrothed Judy in the palm of God’s Holy, and precious arms for all eternity. 

We who gather here today can be assured of this and comforted by this fact, because of God’s promise fulfilled in His Son and our Savior Jesus Christ for all of mankind, but especially for all of us gathered here to say goodbye to Darrel, but especially for all the saints of Darrel’s family.  Thanks be to God for the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, for Darrel, and for all of us who gather here waiting for our robe of righteousness and entrance to be with our Lord and Savior with Judy, Darrel and all the saints proclaiming the victory of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  AMEN.


Now may the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard our hearts and minds and comfort us today, because of God’s victory for Darrel and each one of us!  AMEN! 

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