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Saturday, April 8, 2017

04082017 Funeral Sermon for Shirley Maxine Rapier Reed

April 8, 2017
Funeral for Shirley Maxine Rapier Reed
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!  Heavenly Father, we gather today bearing witness to the final milestone in Shirley’s earthly life, her entrance into eternity.  As we mourn may Your Word that we heard, not ring with hollowness, but with the fullness of the Gospel and the joy and truth that Shirley heard and believed in of what Your Son Jesus Christ did for her and for all of mankind.  May we be comforted by the salve of the Gospel and especially by Your Son, Jesus Christ.  For this message is offered out of Your great love for us and at the proper time found completion in Shirley’s baptism into Jesus Christ life, death, but especially His resurrection.  For Jesus came in order to die so that Shirley and one day each of us would have eternal life.  May this truth of the Gospel comfort us and enable us to fully trust in Your Son and Shirley’s Savior, Jesus Christ.  AMEN.

Have you ever walked into a room and without thinking, flipped the light switch in the room and plunged yourself into complete darkness?  The power that the switch has not only is profound, but ironic that one little switch can either reveal or disguise the obstacles that are in that room.  Clearly, this same power exists when people enter or exit rooms.  The affect we have upon one another can be very profound, either eliciting a smile, or for some a grimace. 

Shirley like both of these examples, could change just as quickly, at times showing a unique nature that one was not expecting, nor desiring, but at other times being the most pleasant and caring person.  Martin Luther would call this as I told her once in her home, this is the ‘simul Justus et peccator’.  Simultaneous saint and sinner all at the same time.  Sometimes we are sinner and sometimes saint.  This is the very nature of our humanity, but also what causes us to gather here today, as Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes.

Solomon speaks, in our Old Testament Lesson today, from a depth and breadth that clearly is confronting us today.  There is a ‘time’, whether ‘birth or death’, ‘planting or uprooting’, ‘building or healing’, ‘gathering or throwing away’, ‘war or peace’, each of these realities’ touch each of us differently as we gather here today to say goodbye to Shirley.  Yet, there is something that is more profound that we need to consider.  Each of us, no matter who we are, have seen or experienced Shirley either years ago, or even recently, both in the lowest valley or at the highest peak.  But the truth is, this was the same woman, who gave birth to five God given children, connected with each of her grandkids forming a special bond with each of them.  Shirley was a woman when times were tight made the decision to ‘scrimp and save while working three jobs for a pair of boots’, and even was willing to ‘drop everything to help someone else’, whether family, friend or neighbor.

Clearly, Shirley both as a young woman who was married only 3 months after her confirmation at 14 was unique, but her uniqueness wasn’t only because of the times in which she grew up.  Shirley’s experiences whether on the farm, in California or raising her five children with her beloved Lavern added to the uniqueness of her character.  Shirley’s uniqueness also came from a relationship she had with one Person Who was a constant companion her entire life and with Whom she held constant daily conversation. 

When I would visit in her home or peak my head around the door frame at Good Samaritan, we would talk about her conversations.  Sometimes, the topics included the joys of her family and thanking God for them, even when they might not be able to help her do what she wanted.  At other times the pain, whether of her body failing or the reality she lived in that her friends were all gone, whether family, neighbors, friends or coworkers that she had from years ago or fellow church members like Esther.  But through it all, Shirley continued her conversations, because they were with the one Person that remained constant during her entire life.  Her conversations were with none other than her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

When I would hear the conversation recounted, these conversations opened up for me the window of her soul and gave me a glimpse of the woman she once was and how her life revolved around the relationship she had with Jesus Christ.  And it was a strong relationship begun in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism when the Water was poured over her head and God made her His redeemed child by the blood of the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.  Shirley’s relationship grew and she affirmed it and took responsibility for it when she was confirmed at Zion Lutheran in Leoti.  And her relationship with Jesus remained the bedrock of her life that she shared with her children and she emulated Jesus in how she lived and put others first, just as Jesus had when He went to the Cross of Calvary.

No clearer image of this do I have than when I would visit Shirley and as our time would draw to a close, I would pray with her asking God to send His Holy Spirit and the Holy Angels to guide and protect her.  What was so clear was how every time I would either sing or pray with her, even in January when many of us thought her time here on earth was short or only a few days ago, Shirley would pray with us the prayer Jesus taught and though at times unable to move, her lips would mouth the words, whether of songs that we sing today like “Softly and Tenderly, Jesus is calling” or “How Great Thou Art”.  But especially when we would pray the prayer Jesus taught His disciples.

So today when Shirley’s time has come to be with her Lord and Savior for all eternity.  It is my prayer as we sing the songs she loved and pray the prayer she clearly knew and loved that we, each of us would be touched by the love God has for her and each of us.  May we remember the loving connections and stories we have, the good times and especially that Shirley was claimed by God through Water and Word in Holy Baptism and now she rests from her labors in the arms of the one Person with Whom she had daily conversations.  For from Jesus Christ we can find the greatest comfort and peace, because it is by His call, and His perfect timing that now Shirley rests in the arms of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, hand in hand with her beloved Lavern and one day each and every one of us.  AMEN.

Now may the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding comfort us today as we celebrate Shirley’s life and light as a reflection of Christ into our lives!  AMEN.

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