Thursday, January 17, 2008

Matthew 27:46, Funeral Sermon for Louisa Magdalena Fenton;

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, eli, Lema sabachthani? Which means, “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46

Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Well, I’ll have to admit right out of the gate I feel a bit neglectful. After all I’ve visited Louisa for two years now and I didn’t even know she was 99 years old! I could probably count the words she said to me on these ten fingers. I’d get a smile from her once in a while, but not much more than that. What I know about Louisa I read right here in this obit. No children listed, I see. Step-children, and step-grandchildren and nieces and nephews. Kenneth dead thirty years now. Well, I do know she was Helen and Buck’s aunt. You probably heard, too, that when Helen called me to say she had died, I thought she was talking about someone else. Well, I was expecting the other funeral. Imagine my shock when I learned, after we had selected hymns and everything that we were talking about Louisa! I had heard Louisa was not feeling well, but… Here it is a cold, windy forsaken day. What a day for a funeral. Really not much of a showing either. Shall we count? How long was she in the nursing home? How long was she “sleepy?” Quite different from the lady I heard about who was twittering around from here to there all the time. Well, she seems to be a bit forsaken, don’t you think? No relatives to speak of really spent much time over there at Good Sam. There are no children listed in the Obituary. All she did most days was sit and sleep. You just gotta ask the question; Did she really deserve of this? Well, yes!

Ah ha! There’s an answer you didn’t expect. But the truth is the she did deserve all this, and even more. But, pastor you didn’t even know her. You said that yourself. She was nice person. She was a member of the church. She was in Ladies Aid. Well, I don’t want you to think I’m saying anything against Louisa’s character. I don’t want you to think I’m saying anything about Louisa I wouldn’t say about you, and I know most of you better than I did her. I’ve actually had conversations with you. I can say with confidence that Louisa deserved everything she got, forsaken, dead and buried. The fact is she was a sinful person. No, I don’t have any particular sin in mind, I’ve never heard a disparaging word about her. It’s just that she’s human. And humans are sinful. She had in her human nature that rebellion against God. She had a desire to save herself. He sinned in thought, word, and deed, by what she had done and left undone.

The real problem we need to come to grips with today isn’t that Louisa has died. It is that we deserve exactly the same thing. You too, will be forsaken just like this for all practical purposes that is you in that coffin, today. You are looking right in to the jaws of death, the wages of sin. It looks like Louisa got just what she deserved. And so will you. Well, at least that is what it looks like.

This seems a lot like what happened to Jesus. He was a nice person. He lived and walked and helped people. He talked down the hypocritical religious leaders and exposed their two faced lives. And for all that, instead of a reward He was given a death sentence. For all that He was handed over to the cruelest device ever made for execution. He was teased, beaten, mocked and pierced. All His friends fled. He was alone and abandoned. What He said there on the cross, gasping for breath says it all. “Eli, eli, lema sabachthni? My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me!” Why indeed? Did He deserve all this? Well, yes! He did.

Caught you again didn’t I? That’s the beauty of why we are here today. That’s where we find comfort in the fact that Louisa has died. That’s where we find comfort in the fact that you and I will die, too. Jesus becomes the worst sinner ever on the cross. Louisa may have been a nice person, but she had sin. God heaped her sin up on Jesus on the cross. You may be a nice person, I have my doubts about some of you, but then I’m just your pastor, I know you are a sinner. God heaped your sin on Jesus. And don’t think I’m leaving myself out, in my sinful pride I think I’m a good person, you may thing differently. I am a sinner, too. All my sin was heaped up on Jesus. All the sin from every person who ever lived, and ever will live, is there on the cross on Jesus. St. Paul uses these words,

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV)

So, let’s revisit my first question. Did Louisa deserve all this? Actually, no. Well, she deserved it, but Jesus took the bite out of it. Louisa passed through death to eternal life with her Savior Jesus. As we’ll say at the cemetery, “Where O death is your sting? Where O Grave, is your victory?” Gone! Dead and buried with Jesus. Erased with His resurrection from the dead. You know what, I didn’t know Louisa and yet I can be confident in her salvation. Why? It’s what we said at the beginning of the service. Turn back there and say it with me again:

P In Holy Baptism Louisa was clothed the with the robe of Christ's righteousness that covered all her sin. St. Paul says: “Do you not know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?”
C We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with Him in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection.

It is God’s promises made to Louisa in her baptism and to us. She was united with Christ in His death. That’s just exactly what we’ve been talking about. Jesus deserving Louisa’s punishment and death. Jesus taking on her sin. Jesus suffering and dying in her place and being forsaken by the God the Father. That means Jesus suffered the eternal forsakenness that she deserved. Jesus suffered the eternal punishment of hell, as Louisa’s sin, and yours, and mine. She was also united with Him in His resurrection. That’s what we’ve got to look forward to. Standing in front of the Savior, whole in body soul and mind, singing His praises and holding on to one another. I guess that’s when I’ll get to know who Louisa really is. Amen.

The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

No comments: