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Funeral Sermon for Margaret Strasser / Friday July 19th 2013




Funeral Sermon for Margaret Strasser / Friday July 19th 2013

Funeral Sermon for Margaret Strasser / Friday July 19th 2013 / Rev. Ted Giese / Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Regina, Saskatchewan.       

 

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

          Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

(Philippians 4:4-9 ESV)

 

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, we heard earlier how prayer was an important part of Margaret’s life. Is prayer an important part of your life? Christians pray in the good times and in the bad times, St. Paul says that we are to “pray without ceasing,”[1] Margaret understood this; she was a woman who knew anxiety and peace and with determination she prayed in both. The world, and her own flesh, would bring up the anxiousness that many of us struggle with in life, but what about the peace? The peace she received, she received from God; it is the peace that St. Paul writes of in Philippians, it’s the peace that Christians know, the peace that “surpasses all understanding,” the peace that “will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” both in the good times and in the bad times, both in the happy times and in the times of grief and mourning.
 
I had the opportunity to pray with Margaret. We prayed here at the church with her brothers and sisters in the faith, gathered around this altar in praise and worship of Jesus, receiving all His good gifts and blessings as we prayed; we prayed at the Hospital, her in her bed and me next to her in the chair, we prayed for the doctors and the nurses and for everyone who aided in her recovery and in the recovery of others; and when she was sick again and things started to change in these last number of months I had a chance to pray with her at the Elmview Extendicare here in Regina. It was back in March before she’d moved to the personal care home and it just happened to be a day when Margaret had a bunch of the family with her and if I remember correctly she had them go on ahead to her room and then her and I sat down and had a little talk, but the talk wasn’t the important part, the important part of that visit was the prayer. I took her hands and we prayed, we prayed about all the things that worried her and we ended with the Lord’s Prayer and while praying the Lord’s Prayer she joined in and prayed it with true hope and peace. Nevertheless after we’d finished I said to her “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.”[2] Then she took my hands and she replied “I know, I know.”

 

I’m often blessed to have these moments with people; I was blessed to have one like that with Margaret. Many of you will have had encouraging moments like that with her too. Perhaps you all didn’t know this side of her, perhaps you knew the organized determined side that faced down troubles and difficulties as challenges, maybe you knew her as one who found opportunity in the hard times. These two people are not different people. Margaret as Mother and Wife as Nurses Aid as Worker as Chairperson as Friend was always one who had the gift of faith and the practice of prayer; she was one who in daily life brought her request to God with thanksgiving: But why?

 
St Paul says that “while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”[3] Margaret believed this. You see, without Jesus we live apart from God, with Jesus we are adopted into the family of God, Margaret believed this. This little passage, “while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly,” says that Jesus, the Christ, while we were weak came at the right time for us. You may have heard someone say that with God there is no such thing as a coincidence. Margaret believed this too. Margaret trusted that God’s time was the right time: Margaret trusted in Jesus and in God the Father and in the Holy Spirit. She knew and trusted that the Holy Trinity was at work in her life, bringing her to baptism, supporting her in every need, and even bringing her children and her children’s children to her bedside at the end, her whole family there represented: her whole family here this day represented. In God’s time, not in ours, and for a reason: Brought together at the right time to think about her life and to contemplate everything in her that is true, and honorable, and just, and pure, and lovely, and commendable, and excellent, everything that’s worthy of praise.

 

The Christian will say that the best part of them, the part that is true and honorable, and just, and pure, and lovely, and commendable, and excellent, the part of them that’s worthy of praise isn’t themselves and isn’t the work of their hands but is Jesus who is in them: The same Jesus who hung lifeless upon the cross, dead for our sin. He is the one who is true and honorable, and just, and pure, and lovely, and commendable, and excellent, Jesus is worthy of praise for He is the one who has saved us by His blood and He is the one “who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious [resurrected] body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.”[4] This is the time given to contemplate and think on these things, today is the time, because apart from Christ Jesus there is no hope of eternal life. St. Paul says that “if Christ has not been raised [from the dead], your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. [And those] who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”[5] It is precisely at a time like this that we are presented with the question: do you believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life?[6] Margaret believed this. You can too. But I don’t have the strength to believe it! “While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for [us].”  

 
Death is a horrible and terrible thing, and in the last stages of Cancer its spectre grips the ones we love. They look like a shell of their former self and often at the moment of death we are left feeling some relief in the midst of our jumbled emotions, in the midst of our grief, because once our loved one has died we see that they are free from the torment they faced as death approached. These are hard words to hear but they are honest ones, and it’s important to remember that God loves your body as much as He loves your soul. Christ Jesus shed His perfect Holy and very real blood on the cross to redeem your blood, He was lead body and soul to the cross and was nailed there in the flesh so that your flesh would one day put on immortality.[7] He took the death that we were to take and in its place we are given life. The uncanny relief you felt at Margaret’s death, the strange notion that she’d been set free is the result of Jesus’ victory over death at the cross. There is a poem on the back of the bulletin today that ends with the words “perhaps my time seemed all to brief, don’t lengthen it now with undue grief. Lift up your hearts, and peace to thee. God wanted me now; He set me free.” The freedom Margret has is not just freedom from this last bit of illness; it’s not just freedom from Cancer; by the blood of Jesus God has set Margaret free from all the troubles of life, He’s set her free from the world, from sin, from death.  

 

The next time you see Margaret she will be beautiful, the spectre of death will be wiped away forever,[8] just as we heard from St. Paul on the last day we will be transformed in the twinkling of an eye, and when you lay your eyes on Margaret on that day she will be radiant and perfect just as Jesus is. This is for you, this same Jesus, the Jesus of the Holy Bible, the Jesus in whose name Margaret prayed is the one who set you and me and Margaret free. For this reason we “rejoice in the Lord always;” because a day is coming when we who believe in Jesus and confess His name[9] will all be gathered together into that happy reunion in Christ Jesus, at just the right time eternity will begin and it will last forever in peace, Margret has gone to that peace ahead of you but you can have that peace even now in Christ Jesus as you await the Day to come. 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 Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

 

Click here to see Margaret’s Obituary and to send your condolences to the family.

 


[1] 1 Thessalonians 5:17

[2] Romans 8:38-39

[3] Romans 5:6

[4] Philippians 3:21

[5] 1 Corinthians 15:17-19

[6] John 11

[7] 1 Corinthians 15:51-58, “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. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

            “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

            “O death, where is your victory?

                        O death, where is your sting?”

            The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

            Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

[8] Revelation 21:1-6, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

            And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.”

[9] Romans 10:9

 

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