Blog / Book of the Month / Funeral Sermon for Lorraine Schaffer / Friday August 19th - 2016

Funeral Sermon for Lorraine Schaffer / Friday August 19th - 2016

Funeral Sermon for Lorraine Schaffer / Friday August 19th - 2016

Funeral Sermon for Lorraine Schaffer at Mount Olive Lutheran Church Friday August 19th - 2016 / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Psalm 139

O LORD, You have searched me and known me!

          You know when I sit down and when I rise up;

                   You discern my thoughts from afar.

          You search out my path and my lying down

                   and are acquainted with all my ways.

          Even before a word is on my tongue,

                   behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.

          You hem me in, behind and before,

                   and lay Your hand upon me.

          Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

                   it is high; I cannot attain it.

          Where shall I go from Your Spirit?

                   Or where shall I flee from Your presence?

          If I ascend to heaven, You are there!

                   If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there!

          If I take the wings of the morning

                   and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

          even there Your hand shall lead me,

                   and Your right hand shall hold me.

          If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,

                   and the light about me be night,”

          even the darkness is not dark to You;

                   the night is bright as the day,

                   for darkness is as light with You.

          For You formed my inward parts;

                   You knitted me together in my mother's womb.

          I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

          Wonderful are Your works;

                   my soul knows it very well.

          My frame was not hidden from You,

          when I was being made in secret,

                   intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

          Your eyes saw my unformed substance;

          in Your book were written, every one of them,

                   the days that were formed for me,

                   when as yet there was none of them.

          How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God!

                   How vast is the sum of them!

          If I would count them, they are more than the sand.

                   I awake, and I am still with You.

          Oh that You would slay the wicked, O God!

                   O men of blood, depart from me!

          They speak against You with malicious intent;

                   Your enemies take Your name in vain.

          Do I not hate those who hate You, O LORD?

                   And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?

          I hate them with complete hatred;

                   I count them my enemies.

          Search me, O God, and know my heart!

                   Try me and know my thoughts!

          And see if there be any grievous way in me,

                   and lead me in the way everlasting!

Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.

Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me," Jesus says, "will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life,”[1] and at the beginning of the Gospel of John we hear how, "The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world [by the birth of this same Jesus, and how] He was in the world [it's very Light], and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. [Jesus] came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God."[2] And so it was, by the will of God, that Lorraine was made a child of God in her baptism in August of 1934 on the 25th day of that month. On that day she was baptized, "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."[3] She was baptized into Christ Jesus who is The Light and as St. John also said in his first epistle, "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all,"[4] and so it is with Jesus for Jesus is God.

Such words from St. John echo the words confessed by King David in Psalm 139, a Psalm that became one of Lorraine's favourite Psalms as the sharpness of her eyes grew dim because of the futility of macular degeneration. In fact those words from the Gospel of John which you heard just now detailing the nature of God, the nature of Christ, give shape to what King David says when he says, "If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to You [Oh Lord]; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with You."

If a person's vision is compromised, if their hearing is muffled, if the eye be sharp but the night be dark it makes no difference for God, it makes no difference for Jesus. To Jesus the deepest darkness caused by the absence of physical light or even a darkness caused by the deepest spiritual distress will not separate Him from you and such things did not separate Jesus from Lorraine. From her baptism she was taught to observe all that Jesus had commanded His church to teach; And behold, just as He promised His remaining disciples on the day of His ascension forty days after His personal resurrection from the dead, Jesus was - and has been - with Lorraine always. He continues to be with her - and her with Him - in the Body of Christ, "to the end of the age,”[5] where on The Last Day, at the end of the age, Lorraine will receive her resurrection. And in that resurrection, united in Christ (such as she is in her baptism),[6] Lorraine will have put upon her imperishable eyes. Eyes transformed to be like the glorious eyes of the risen Christ,[7] with which she will see Him as Job yearns to do when Job says, "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!"[8] After seeing Jesus with imperishable eyes Lorraine will then see anew all those who have likewise passed from this life into eternity with their faith firmly set on Jesus. Yes on That Day "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. [Lorraine] will be raised imperishable, and we [with her] shall be changed. For," as St. Paul says, "this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality,"[9] and in Christ, and in Him alone, the happy reunion will commence. The happy reunion Lorraine so looked forward to, a blessed reunion we too can look forward to, trusting what King David says when he says, "If I ascend to heaven, You are there!" Yes, Jesus is in His heaven and Lorraine as a baptized Child of God is their hidden away in Him, and today and until That Day, "all of creation waits with eager longing for the [final] revealing of the sons of God,"[10] the revealing of all those hidden away in Christ Jesus, Lorraine being one now counted in that number.

St. Paul in our Epistle reading from Romans says, "that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."[11] In Psalm 139 King David says the same. For those who would rather that God would just buzz off, would rather that God would not exist at all, such a revelation that there is nowhere to go in which a man, or woman, or child could escape from God is a terror, but to those of us who believe it is a great comfort to know that Jesus is with us everywhere we go. It is from the vantage point of being hidden away in the righteousness of God that David looks with derision on the enemies of God, not because David believes himself superior but rather because he knows the holiness and perfection of his God. Yes even before his birth when he was yet only predestined to be, and as he was being formed in his mother's womb, David trusted that his holy and perfect LORD was in fact there leading him by His Hand, that the Right Hand of God was in fact holding David then and always. Lorraine shared this same faith, and this faith is not only for Lorraine it is for you too. Believe as she believed and there will be no darkness too dark for you: For in faith you will see that Jesus is there with you as He promises to be.

When life seems to be spinning out of control, when everything seems to be going wrong remember that, when as yet there was none of them the days that were formed for you, every one of them, already were written in the book of the LORD. In some of those days you are the hand that helps, as Lorraine had been to countless children whom she taught in Lutherans Day Schools and even here at Mount Olive, and in some of those days you are the one being helped by the hand of another, as Lorraine was helped by dear friends and family who kept her in the Word of God, talked with her on the phone, brought her to Bible study, and visited with her, and finally those at the Lutheran home who dressed and bathed and fed her. Yes sometimes we are the hands that help and sometimes we are the ones being helped by the hands of another and in such work the Christian life becomes a beacon of the light of Christ Jesus. In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus said to those who had ears to hear Him, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."[12] The light of Christ shines in the Christian when they care for others, the light of Christ shines in the Christian when they receive with grace and thankfulness the help given to them in love."

David knew, and so did Lorraine, that when David said, "Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!" That what God would find in His searching of David's heart, what God would find in the searching of my heart, and your heart, and Lorraine's heart - in all our thoughts, words, and deeds - was someone who needed to be saved, someone who needed desperately to have that Light who is Christ Jesus, that God would in fact find a "grievous way in me," and not just in me but in us all, which needs redemption, forgiveness and grace and then out of love, God who "is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love,"[13] would lead me, would lead you, would lead us, out of myself, out of yourself, out of ourselves, into Christ Jesus. You can pray as Lorraine did, as King David did in Psalm 139, "lead me in the Way everlasting!" and who is that Way? Jesus says “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."[14] He is the Way everlasting.

In the Darkness it is Jesus, the Light of the world - the Light of Life,[15] who takes our hand and leads us upon life's way. At the end of her earthly life Lorraine was tired, she was weak, she was worn, and yet she clung tightly to the Hand of Jesus and He has led her home, home to Him. For you who hear these words today let them be a comfort: Jesus died for you that you would not perish eternally but would have life eternal in Him; Jesus lives for you; He intercedes for you to the Father in prayer; He is your Light in the darkness; He is the Right Hand of God and He is leading you home, hold fast to Him for He holds fast to you. Amen.    

Let us pray:

Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.


[1] John 8:12  
[2] John 1:9-13
[3] Matthew 28:19
[4] 1 John 1:5
[5] Matthew 28:20   
[6] Romans 6:5
[7] Philippians 3:21
[8] Job 19:27
[9] 1 Corinthians 15:52-53
[10] Romans 8:19
[11] Romans 8:38-39
[12] Matthew 5:14-16
[13] Psalm 145:8
[14] John 14:6
[15] John 8:12