Rocklin, California

Tag: Funeral

Funeral Service for Gene Holland

Tuesday of Pentecost, (May 17, 2016)

John 14:1-6

TITLE: “Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled”

Family and friends of Gene, especially his daughters, stepsons, and you, Peg. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for today is the Gospel just read from St. John chapter fourteen.

William Eugene Holland was born on February 22, 1931, and was baptized on the same day. He was married to Harol Demmon, until she passed away in 1984. He married Peggy Irvine on October 19, 1985. Gene died in Christ on Wednesday, May 11 in the year of our Lord two thousand and sixteen., at the age of eighty five years. “And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”” (Rev. 14:13 ESV)

Gene led what I think we could call a full life. Working in trucking, taking care of family, church, Bible class, hobbies. His life was lively, if not always easy. I think it would be fair to say that Gene had a, um, sparky personality. Sometimes that spark came out in wit and good humor; at other times it was a sort of darker or sharper spark. But you really didn’t need to wonder where you stood with Gene. He would tell you, whether you wanted to know or not. I can remember visiting Gene one time just a few weeks ago. The deaconess and I were chatting with him and with Peggy, and I asked after a while if I could read some Scripture and have a devotion with him. His response, “It’s about time!”

Things with his diabetes took a turn for the worst about five years ago. I’m sure I couldn’t even list all of the various ailments that came as a result of diabetes. Circulation problems, heart, lungs. But five years ago was when gangrene had set in, and the result was that he lost his left leg. I think it would be fair to say he never really recovered from that. He tried to keep his humor about it, though. I can remember when I would come and visit there was more than one occasion when I was greeted with a, “Hello Pastor! Sorry I can’t get up to greet you properly.”

But all joking aside, the last five years were hard. Sometimes almost unbearably hard for both Gene and for you, Peg. But still Jesus says,”Let not your hearts be troubled“. But that’s hard to imagine after the last five years. What does Jesus mean when he says let not your hearts be troubled?

To start with, Jesus knows your sorrow and pain. He’s not saying that isn’t true or real. He knows your griefs and sorrows, just as He knew Gene’s griefs and sorrows. Jesus rejoices when you rejoice, and weeps with you when you cry and are sorrowful. And so it is that Jesus knows your sorrow in the face of death, even the death of a father or step-father, husband, friend. That sorrow is real, because death is real. And the sad reality, for Gene and for all of us really, is that we all deserve to die. Our sin breaks us, separates us from God and from each other. Even Gene, for all his sharpness and wit, Gene fully recognized that he was a sinner, and that he had made many mistakes in his life, some of them doosies. The kitchen table prayer happened a lot, “I a poor miserable sinner confess to you all my sins and iniquities…

Gene, you see, was baptized. He is an heir of heaven and a child of eternal life. God forgives all those sins, some of whom we know, some which are between him and God. God is about forgiveness and mercy, not judgment, not fear and hatred and enmity. And that new life is what fed Gene for his whole life long. The body and blood of Jesus, given and shed for him and for you.

So when Jesus says Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid, He says this because He knows how the story ends. He knows that He would die for the sins of the world, and that He would rise again from the dead. So now, when Gene dies, or you, or me, when we die it is never the end of the story. It is a part of the story. Maybe the saddest part of the story. But it is never the end of the story.

“In my father’s house are many rooms…and I go to prepare a place for you.” That’s what Jesus promises. Jesus promises to make things right. Your brokenness healed. Death defeated. Sins forgiven. Reconciliation. Peace. Real peace. Not the peace of the world. Not peace which really means separation. That’s not peace. No, the peace that the world gives is at best an illusion, something that lasts for a few minutes, or days, or years, and then is gone.

No, the peace that Jesus gives to you is that Gene will rise again from the dead. In his body. Whole and purified. Made right of all wrongs and fixed of all its frailties. And he gives that same promise to you. “And though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh I shall see God, and my eyes shall behold and not another.” That’s the promise that God makes to you this day and every day.

But until that time when we are reunited, be at rest, Gene. Be at rest until we are reunited with saints and angels and all the company of heaven. We will rejoin you soon.

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.

Holy Cross Lutheran Church

Rocklin, California

Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn

The Way, The Truth, and The Life (Funeral Sermon for George L. Wirts, February 20, 2015)

Friday after Ash Wednesday, (February 20, 2015)
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Rocklin, California
Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn
Funeral Service for George L. Wirts
(John 14:1–6) 


TITLE: “The Way, the Truth, and the Life”

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for today is the Gospel just read from St. John chapter fourteen.


George Lee Wirts was born on, March 8, 1923. He was Baptized into Christ in 1936. He married his dear bride, Ruby, on March 19, 1944. They have four children. He was confirmed in the Lutheran faith in 1956, and he died in Christ on February 14, in the year of our Lord, 2015. “And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”” (Rev. 14:13 ESV)

Jesus’ disciples in our Gospel for today were confused. That’s not too surprising; they were often confused. But this time, their confusion stemmed from the fact that Jesus said He was going away. He was going away and they didn’t know where He was going.

Our friend, George, was a man on the move. Oh, I know, he didn’t go very far physically for the last dozen years or more. His health, and the loss of his wife, both led to his being pretty much homebound for many years. I know that my predecessor, Pastor Jordan, would take out George for lunch just about every month. And reading his obituary in the bulletin here will give you a picture of how much George had been on the move his whole life long. He served in the Pacific Theater in World War Two, and was even General Douglas MacArthur’s pilot for a time. And this does not even include all of his reading. He may not had been able to leave his room physically, but his imagination took him to far away places every single day. He always had something to tell about what he was reading.

There was one destination that was certain for George, in the midst of all of the chances and changes of his life. George is a Christian. He was baptized many, many years ago, heard the Word of God faithful, and received Christ’s body and blood for the forgiveness of sins for many, many years. That was and is George’s identity. He is in Christ. And because of that, there is no doubt about the journey for him, just as there was no doubt for his dear bride, Ruby.

When Jesus’ disciples expressed their fear and dismay that he was leaving, Jesus comforted them with the simple words, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 ESV) The only way to go to God is through faith in Jesus Christ, His Son. And God gives that faith freely for the sake of His Son. It is a gift, not a work. It isn’t a matter of feeling right or even thinking right. It is a matter of trusting that God forgives you for Jesus’ sake.

And because Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, George’s life does not end in the grave. He is at rest and at peace, but at the last day, Jesus Christ will raise up George and all the dead, and give etrenal life to him and all believers in Christ. So today is not a final journey or a last resting place. It is a stop on the way, but only a temporary stop. For Jesus Christ alone will raise him from the dead.

And on that Last Day George will stand up in his flesh and cry out with Job and all the saints of old,

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!” (Job 19:25–27 ESV)

Until that day, George, rest well. Rest well in Christ, and we will see you in the resurrection.

Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.

Hearing the Voice of the Good Shepherd (Sermon for Brenda Grinager, January 23, 2015)

Memorial Service for Brenda Grinager, (January 23, 2015)
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Rocklin, California
Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn
(John 10:27–30)

TITLE: “Hearing the Voice of the Good Shepherd”

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for today is the Gospel just read from St. John chapter ten as follows: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

Brenda Alice (neé Southam) Grinager was born in England on March 19, 1939 and was baptized on April 23rd of that same year. She was confirmed in the Lutheran faith in 1964, the year after marrying her husband, Bruce. She died in Christ on January 17, in the year of our Lord, 2015. “And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”” (Rev. 14:13 ESV)

The image of a sheep with its shepherd is one of the most common pictures in the Bible. Certainly it is one of the most familiar. It evokes a picture of someone who will go after the lost, no matter what. It is a picture of love and attention, even to the most wounded among us.

Now I can’t tell you a lot about Brenda, because I didn’t know her very well. I think I met her perhaps once or twice. But I can tell you this. She, like all of us, is a wounded sinner in need of redemption. Her various sicknesses left her isolated sometimes, unable to interact with the outside would quite like we would like or expect her to. In the midst of such hardships and sorrow, it is difficult, even impossible for those of us on the outside to really understand what was going on. I’m sure the closest to understanding her was her dear husband, Bruce, who stood by her side for over fifty years of marriage.

So I can’t tell you a lot about Brenda, but I will tell you about Brenda’s God, the Good Shepherd. Brenda’s body and mind sometimes made it hard to get out, but God is merciful and compassion, full of gracious love toward all His wounded sheep. And that includes Brenda. And that includes you and me. That is who God is, He is the God of hope, who will not let his lost ones stay lost.

Things were not always right with Brenda, nor with you or me. But there will come a time when everything will be made right. Job reminds us of this, as he is in the midst of profound suffering and death. Hear again those words from Job:

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!” (John 19:25–27 ESV)

There will come a time, beloved, when God will call Brenda from the grave. She is a baptized child of God, and God does not back out of His promises. He will call to her, and just as on that day in 1939 when she was baptized at Holy Trinity Church, Southall, Middlesex, England, even so there will be a time when God will call upon her and, by His grace, she will answer with the Amen of faith.

In the meantime, we grieve and wait. We grieve at the loss of a wife and mother and friend. And we wait until the day we are reunited in Christ, who draws all things to Himself.

So rest well, Brenda. Be at peace, for Christ is at peace with you.

Believe it or Jesus’ ake. Amen.

And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.

Looking to Jesus (Funeral Sermon for Bob Browner, August 19, 2014)

Tuesday of Pentecost 10, (August 19, 2014)
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Rocklin, California
Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn
John 11:20–27

TITLE: “Looking to Jesus”

Friends and family of Bob, especially Gloria: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for today is the Gospel just read from St. John chapter eleven. We focus on the words from St. Paul, “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51–52 ESV)

Robert Gene (a.k.a. “Bob”) Browner was born the son of Cecil and Nannie Mae Browner in San Jacinto, California, on February 20, 1933. He was baptized the same year. He was confirmed in the Lutheran faith at First Lutheran Church in Concord, California, in 1965. Bob died in Christ, surrounded by his daughters and especially his wife, Gloria, on August 12 in the year of our Lord, two-thousand fourteen. “And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”” (Rev. 14:13 ESV)

IMG 7163In a twinkle of an eye. There was something about Bob that always made you feel like there was more going on than meets the eye. In these latter years of his life, as I came to know him, he moved slowly. He didn’t always speak, and when he did, they were usually short bursts or quips about something or another. But you could tell, you could see it in his eyes. There was more going on. And frankly, you kind of wanted to know what was going on in there.

That is a pretty good picture of the Christian life under the cross, if you think about it. Bob spent his life working, taking care of his wife and family, especially his grandchildren. We could talk about trains, or building, or golf, or one of the manner of things that made Bob tick. I’m sure I don’t know the half of them. And He was not one for big speeches, at least not in these latter years. But there was and is one thing that makes Bob who he is. Bob is baptized.

Notice what I said there. I didn’t say that Bob was baptized, like this was something that happened long ago and doesn’t matter anymore. No, Bob is baptized. For there is the key, beloved. Bob’s identity was shaped as a child of God when he was baptized. That identity means he is a child of God, an heir of the kingdom of heaven, and that a time is coming, a twinkling of an eye, a time is coming when he will be raised again from the dead.

This is what we call the Gospel, dear friends. The Gospel is that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for Bob’s sins, and yours. Bob was not perfect. Far from it. Neither are you, or me. Bob was a sinner who needed God’s forgiveness. Bob was a sinner, but he is baptized, a child of God and an heir of eternal life. For when Jesus died on the cross, He died for you, and me, and Bob, and indeed, for the whole world. But three days later He rose again from the dead.

Job, even in the midst of all his suffering, Job recognized what God promises in the Messiah. Here again those great words from the prophet:

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.” (Job 19:25–27 ESV)

On the Last Day, Bob will rise again from the dead. And there will be no more stoop in his back. No more Parkinson’s disease. No more sin or sorrow. No more fear. There will only be joy in the presence of God Himself.

Today, though, we grieve. We miss Bob, and so there is sorrow and pain at our loss. Jesus Himself wept at the death of His friend, Lazarus, and so it is okay for you to weep as well. But remember again those words Jesus spoke to His friend, Martha, who also grieved the death of her brother. Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25).

That is God’s promise to Bob and to all of you. Death is but a sleep, and at the sound of the trumpet on the Last Day, you, and me, and Bob, and all the saints of God will rise again, whole and undefiled. And that, beloved, is really, really good news indeed.

So until then, Bob, rest well in Jesus. Rest well, until we are reunited with saints and angels and all the company of heaven. I look forward to seeing the twinkle in your eye on that day, for it will be a sight to behold. God is faithful. He will do it.

Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.
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Esther Mueller Funeral Sermon 02-22-14

Funeral of Esther Mueller, (February 22, 2014)

Holy Cross Lutheran Church

Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn

(Isaiah 25:6–9)

TITLE: “Death is Swallowed Up”

Arden, Sherree, Linda, Dennis, grandchildren, family and friends of Esther: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for today is the Old Testament lesson just read from Isaiah chapter 25. We focus on the words, “He will swallow up death forever” (Isaiah 25:8 ESV).

Esther Jane Mueller nèe Womack was born on June 19, 1930 in Memphis, Tennessee. She was baptized into Christ on October 23, 1949. She was confirmed in the Lutheran faith in April of 1953. She met her dear husband, Arden, while serving as a switchboard operator in the Air Force. They were married on September 11, 1952. They have three children, Sheree, Linda, and Dennis, with many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She died in Christ in on February 20 in the year of our Lord, 2014. “And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”” (Rev. 14:13 ESV)

Eighty-four years is a lot of history. Tennessee, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Alaska, Minnesota, California, and other places in between . Three children, a passel of grandchildren, and that is not even including all of her spiritual sons and daughters here at Holy Cross. She has been a part of this place before there even was this place. I’m sure each of you has your own memories of Esther.

My most vivid memory of Esther is admittedly an odd one. It was a time when our deaconess and I went to visit her and give her communion. We were outside, looking around the yard and fruit. Arden, Pam and I went around the corner to check out the garden, and when we came back. Esther was no where to be found. Where does a ninety-pound woman in a wheelchair go? In the grass. Somehow she had slid off her wheelchair, and when we found her, she was lying in the grass, with her elbow holding her head up, looking like she didn’t have a care in the world. To some, falling out of your wheelchair would be the source of anxiety and heartache. But to Esther, it meant lying down in the grass with your elbow propped up, looking at the world going by. She was at rest, and it was a good place to be.

The last several years had been difficult for her. The illnesses of her body seemed to be getting the best of her. Her memory was not what it once was. The vitality which once made her who she is seemed to be slipping away. Her southern accent became stronger, while her body became weaker. I’m sure everyone here would agree that it is hard, very hard.

That is the way of life and death under sin, which we all endure. St. Paul says that the wages of sin is death, and we must all pay those wages out sooner or later. It was no different for Esther. Her life was, like all of us, as broken as her body. She was a sinner, and so death came to her just as it will come to us all.

But that is not the end of her story. Our text from Isaiah speaks about a time when the feast will be greater than you can possibly imagine. Food and wine. Everything will be perfect. No cake, only pie. But the one phrase that really grabs you from this is this, “He will swallow up death forever” (Isaiah 25:8 ESV).

Death is the great enemy. It is the one who takes our loved ones from us, either expected or unexpected. Death messes things up, it causes pain and sorrow so that our very hearts will break for the pain of it. The world may try to give us the picture of death as natural, as a part of life, but we know better. St. Paul was right when he said that “The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:26).

But Jesus Christ has conquered both sin and death on the cross. Our Lord paid the price for all of Esther’s sins, and yours, and mine. Our Lord paid the price, and was laid to rest in a tomb. He took death into Himself by His own death. And He rose again from the dead on the third day, so that death would be swallowed up forever.

That is why we sing these Easter hymns this afternoon. We sorrow, but we sorrow with hope, because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. We weep, but our tears will come to an end at the Last Day. We hurt, but the consolation of God’s love will comfort you and keep you in Him. Esther’s death is hard. It stinks for us who are left here on earth. But she is with saints and angels and all the company of heaven. No more pain, no more heartache. She is at rest in Christ, when goes to the grave with her so that she will rise again at the Resurrection.

Beloved in Christ, rejoice with Esther and with all the saints and angels of heaven. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, and because of that, you, too, shall rise from the dead. That is your comfort and your hope. That is your home. And some day we will be reunited with Esther and with all those who have gone before us and are now with Christ.

So until that day, Esther, rest in peace. Rest in Christ because Christ is at rest with you. Prop your elbow up and look upon the face of Jesus, who loves you with an everlasting love. We will join you there, soon.

Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.

The Party of a Lifetime (Funeral Sermon for Bonnie Gilbert, September 21, 2013)

Funeral Service for Bonnie Gilbert (September 21, 2013)

Holy Cross Lutheran Church

Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn

Isaiah 25:6–9

BonnieGilbert09-21-2013

TITLE: “The Party of a Lifetime”

Jack, Cheryl, Matt, family and friends of Bonnie, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for today is the Isaiah chapter 25.

Bonnie Halboth Gilbert was born in New Mexico on November 26, 1942, and was baptized that same year. She was confirmed in the Lutheran Faith in 1955 by her father. She died in Christ in the year of our Lord, September 14, 2013. “And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”” (Rev. 14:13 ESV)

I’ll be honest with you. We had a pretty hard time planning this service. Now it is true that there is grief over the loss of our dear sister, Bonnie, but that’s not what made it hard. What made it hard was that we kept getting distracted by laughter. Getting lost, spoiling the grandchildren, cooking, throwing parties. Whatever it was, it seemed Bonnie went into these things whole hog. I still haven’t found a good Bible passage to use for shopping. Sorry, I tried.

But I think it would be fair to say that Bonnie had not been herself for sometime. The once always active could hardly move around. The do-er seemed to be done-in. It was hard to watch, and I have only known Bonnie for the last couple years. For those of you who have known the long history, and who knew Bonnie in her prime, I’m sure it was much worse. In the end she could hardly walk, had a feeding bag, and her life was not what she had known for so long.

We hear from God’s Word both why and how this happened. While there are medical descriptions of what happened, as a Christian our understanding is a little simpler. “The wages of sin is death,” St. Paul reminds us in Romans. All of us were born into this world sinful and unclean. Even Bonnie. So it is that we are all dying, every one of us.

But that, beloved, is not the end of the story. Not for Bonnie. Not for you. You see, St. Paul goes on to say, “but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus, our Lord.”

So while Bonnie was dying, she was dying to live. This is what Isaiah is getting at in our reading from his book. Hear this part of it again:

“On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 25:6–8 ESV)

God promises that there will come a time for each one of us when we will celebrate what we might call the party of a lifetime. This picture from Isaiah is one I think Bonnie would appreciate. A feast, good wine, great food, a celebration with family and friends unlike anything we have ever known. God, you see, promises to swallow up death forever. God promises that at the last day, that death itself will die.

How is this possible? How is it that our sorrow can turn to joy, even in the midst of such grief? God knows your tears. He sees your heartache. That is why He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to come and take our sins upon Himself, to die upon the cross. Jesus died on the cross so that Bonnie’s death is not the end of her story. Jesus Himself put it this way:

““Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:1–2 ESV)

This day we weep and are sorrowful, but strangely, we also rejoice. Bonnie is not in pain anymore. She can walk again. And she is at the party of a lifetime. I’m sure she’s making sure everything is setup just right for each one of you when you get there. Frankly, they probably don’t know what hit them.

So today we weep, but we weep with hope. Today we are sorrowful, but full of memories, and looking forward to a day that has no end, when the party and the rejoicing will never end.

So until that day when we are reunited, Bonnie, rest well. Rest well in the arms of your Savior. Save a seat for us at the party. We’ll all be there soon.

Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.

In Christ, We May Depart in Peace (Memorial Sermon for Phil Myer, Dec 29, 2012)

Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Rocklin, California
Eve of the First Sunday After Christmas
December 29, 2012
Memorial Sermon for Phil Myer

myerphil2012.mp3

TITLE: “In Christ, We May Depart in Peace” (Luke 2: 25-32)

Family and friends of Phil, especially Bob and Gary. Grace and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our text for today is from the song of Simeon just read, from Luke chapter two.

Philip Wilferd Myer, Jr., was born into time on July 25, 1931, in Salinas, California. He lived his life in various places, serving in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, and for much of his life worked in real estate development. After many struggles with illnesses, diabetes, possibly Parkinson’s Disease, and finally chronic leukemia. He lived in the Loomis area in recent years, and then in Roseville for the past year or so. He confessed his faith in the Risen Christ to Pastor Meyer and to me at different times over the years. He died in Christ on Monday, December 17, 2012, and was laid to rest at the Sacramento Valley National V.A. Cemetery in Dixon on Friday, December 21st. “‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” ‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!’” (Rev. 14:13)

Simeon was an old man when the infant Jesus came into the Temple. Simeon had waited his whole life for this little baby, this child from a backwater town in Nazareth, to come to the Temple. The Old Temple build with human hands met the New Temple of flesh and blood in Jesus Christ. So it is no surprise that Simeon took this little baby into his arms and prayed:

Now, set free your servant, Master,
according to your word in peace;
because my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared before the face of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and glory for your people Israel. (Translation by A. A. Just)

Set free. Most of our translations have depart, but really set free catches the meaning. The creator Lord sets Simeon free according to His Word in peace. God’s gracious presence in Jesus is the only things that can truly set us free.

The infant Lord comes to His Temple to set His people free from the bondage of sin, death and the devil. We, like Simeon, are all in bondage. We are held in bondage by this sinful nature that clings to us and grips us with cords of death. Our world is held in this bondage. Saint Paul says that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs to be delivered from this bondage of sin. This bondage traps us, and sickness, sin, disease and death are all the tools of this ghastly enemy.

That is the beauty of the Song of Simeon, or the Nunc Dimittis, as it is often called. According to the Word of the Lord, Simeon was set free in peace. There is salvation. There is life. There is new creation and hope for all mankind. When Simeon saw Jesus, he was set free. When he saw Jesus, he saw God’s salvation for all people. There is no wondering about where God is. He is there, in the flesh of Jesus, just as was promised in His Word. Where God’s Word promises that He will be, that is where He is, not as some abstraction or warm feeling that comes and goes, but in the flesh, in our flesh.

Phil longed to be set free. Free from the sickness that had plagued him off and on for so many years. Free from worry and fear for his future. He longed for that freedom which only Christ can give. The last time I visited Phil was just the day before he died. Gary and I saw him. He was, as they say in the medical field, non-responsive. Now I have heard from several people that non-responsive is a rather odd way for Phil to be. He would often have a response to a need or a question. And he was going to tell you whether you wanted to hear it or not. But illness had, it seems, finally gotten the best of Phil.

Like Simeon almost 2000 years ago, Phil has been set free. For you see, death for the Christian is not the end, but the beginning. Phil finished his life in the loving arms of Jesus Christ. If there is one thing that we can be sure of, it is the eternal mercy of a loving God. As the Psalmist cried out so many years ago, My heart and my flesh fail me, but you are the rock of my heart and my portion forever. (Ps. 73)

Yes, God in His great mercy has set Phil free. And we who remain grieve at our loss, but we have confidence in this: Jesus Christ, who died and rose again from the dead, will raise up Phil and all believers at the last day. He has been set free, and we will see Him again in the Last Day.

Jesus said, My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. (John 10: 27-29) Phil heard the voice of his Savior, and our Lord in His great mercy has given him eternal life.

For those who do believe in Jesus, trust Him, and follow Him, well you may depart in peace, because your eyes have beheld Him. Oh, it’s not that Christians look forward to dying. Christians do not especially want to die anymore than anyone else. For some though, the hard part is not the dying, it is the struggle to go on living. So from God’s point of view, the view that both Simeon and Phil now have, any day is a good day to die, because the Christian may, indeed, depart in peace.

What’s more, our hope does not lie in Phil being a good person. I’m sure he was a good person, in his own way. But he was also a sinner, and, like all of us, deserved nothing but eternal separation from God. But God is merciful, not vengeful. And at the Last Day, He will raise Phil and all the dead and give eternal life to him and all believers in Christ. We call that the resurrection of the body. Phil’s body, now laid to rest in that cemetery in Dixon, Phil’s body will rise again on the Last Day. That is God’s promise to Phil, and that is God’s promise to you this day.

According to God’s Word, Phil believed and was baptized. With the Word, Phil lived his life of faith. He is now singing that ancient Song of Simeon with the angels and the whole Church in heaven and on earth:

… Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace according to Thy Word.
For mine eyes have seen Thy Salvation which Thou hast prepared before the face
of all people; a Light to lighten the Gentiles and the Glory of Thy people
Israel. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was
in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Be at peace, Phil. Be at rest, and we look forward to the day where we are reunited with you again in heaven. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

“I Know My Own” – Funeral Sermon for +Marian Winegar+

+Marian Winegar+

Gary and Carol, Bruce and Monica, family, friends, and all those who knew our dear sister Marian: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Our text for this morning is the Gospel from St. John chapter ten. We focus on the words of our Lord, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me” (John 10:14).

Marian Emilie Winegar neé Schroeder was born on January 5, 1920 and grew up in Grand View, Minnesota. She was baptized into the Christian faith on April 1, 1920, and was confirmed in the Lutheran Church on May 1, 1934. In 1940 she moved out to California, and met her husband, Cliff Winegar. They were married on December 17, 1943. They settled in Sacramento, and were founding members of Our Savior Lutheran Church. Marian died in Christ on March 5 in the year of our Lor, 2012. **“And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”” ** (Revelation 14:13)

It hardly seems possible to summarize and hold together in our hands a life of ninety-two years and more. From Minnesota to California. From San Diego to Sacramento to Sun City. Two children. Grandchildren. Caring for those in need and selflessly giving to those around her. All of these could describe Marian’s life. I’m sure there are many more words that could be said, stories that we could tell, and pictures we could look at to try and capture what makes Marian so special. It will be different for each on of you, I’m sure.

I don’t know Marian very well personally. The last time I saw her, I gave her Holy Communion around a friend’s dinner table. She was there, but you could tell that her mind was just beginning to slip. That was just a couple months ago. It seems as though age and a lifetime of care for others had finally caught up with her.

But we are not here today to simply eulogize Marian, to remember the good times and bad. There is some of that, and that is okay. But the sad reality is that we are here because, for all of Marian’s great traits, she was still a sinner. Marian was broken and in need. Her slowly deteriorating body points us to the simple fact that St. Paul is right, the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Slowly or quickly, easy or hard, we are all dying. We all live under the curse of sin. And that is not how it is supposed to be. Not for Marian, not for her dear husband, Cliff, not for you,and not for me.

This is why we grieve. This is why we weep and are sorrowful. It is not right. God did not create us to die, and frankly, it stinks. Jesus Himself wept at the death of his friend, Lazarus (John 11:35). If Jesus recognized that this is messed up and not the way it is supposed to be, then it is okay for us to feel this sorrow and pain as well.

But that is not the end of Marian’s story, or yours. You see, Marian actually died a long time ago. She died at the baptismal font on a spring day in Minnesota 92 years ago. She died there, and her life is now hidden with Christ in God (Colossiand 3:3). For her entire life Marian was hearing the voice of her shepherd, her Savior, her Jesus. She raised her children in the Christian faith. She and Cliff were instrumental in starting Our Savior Lutheran Church in Sacramento, and in working with their school to teach that faith to the next generation, including her own children. Week after week, year after year, decade after decade, Marian heard the voice of her shepherd. In Church, in Bible class, at the font, at the altar, in the voice of preaching and in the mutal conversation with fellow redeemed sinners like you and me.

St. Paul said that the wages of sin is death, but that the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord (Romans 6:23). Those aren’t just words, beloved. Marian believed with all her heart that her end would not be at her death. That happened long ago. Marian believed with Job, that *“…after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God,” * (Job 19:26) Marian believes in the resurrection of the dead. Marian believes that you and I and all who rejoice in the death and resurrection of Jesus will rise from the dead. It’s irrational. It’s crazy. It makes no sense to all logic. But it is true as surely as I am standing before you today. It’s what made Marian tick, and what drove her to give of herself so selflessly.

But until that last day, at the resurrection of all flesh, until that last day we wait. We wait, and we weep. We weep because we miss Marian. And Cliff. And all those sons and daughters who have gone before and are with Christ. We miss them. There is a hole that cannot be denied. Don’t be afraid to weep. But we weep with a twinkle in our eyes. And that twinkle says that this isn’t the end. That twinkle says we will be reunited in Christ at the Last Day. We get a taste of that at His heavenly banquet here Sunday after Sunday, and we will taste it in full on the Last Day.

So rest well Marian. We grieve and sorrow. We miss you and love you. Rest well in the arms of your Savior, until the day of His reappearing, and we are reunited again.

In the strong name of Jesus. Amen