Funeral Sermon, Victoria Goebel / Monday February 26th 2018
Funeral Sermon For Victoria Goebel - Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Monday February 26th 2018: Lent / John 14:1-7 "Pots and Pans in Heaven’s Kitchens"
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? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.”
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. You’ve likely been to many funerals where the cooking and baking skills of the individual, mainly mothers and grandmothers and great grandmothers, are touted as the best. When it comes to Vicky there will be no detractors, everyone will say the same: There was great joy and happiness brought to many of you from the end of Victoria’s spoon, from her kitchen to your plate, from her house to your home and I think it’s even safe to say from her heart to your heart. Yet as her health continued to fail and she moved from Regina to Swift Current that cooking, that baking came at a greater and greater cost.
Many of you will know that Victoria was losing her ability to use her hands, her one arm was shot to heck and the feeling in the hand on her good arm was going away. As a result, what some of you might not know so well, is that in these last number of years, Granma Vicky would sometimes get terrible burns on her hands from cooking and baking. She endured the burns because she loved to cook and to bake and she loved giving family and friends her soups, cookies and cinnamon twists.
Our Gospel reading for today from the Gospel of St. John records words spoken by Jesus to those who were closest to Him, His disciples, on the night in which He was betrayed. That night when Jesus had given them the Last Supper, that night when He went to the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives to pray, that night when He was falsely arrested and lead off first to a kangaroo court and then to an official Roman court which lead to His death upon the cross the next day on the day we now call Good Friday. He gave these words right as a truly troubling time was about to begin for the ones He loved, who were right there with Him over the previous three years. Knowing the end from the beginning, Jesus said to them (and He says to you today) “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me.” It’s at times like these when we grieve the death of a dear loved one like Victoria that we need most to hear the words of Jesus, to remember His promises, and the things He did for us, for Vicky, for you and for me.
So consider how in these last years her baking and cooking came to you at by way burns and hardships, real challenges that the majority of us do not face in our day to day lives. And remember that she did this out of love for you and out of love of baking and cooking. Then ask yourself why? Why not just stop while you’re ahead, why do it if it’s so hard, such a challenge? We are told in one of St. John’s letters, recorded in the Bible, that, “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him,” and that we, as Christians, both in our family and outside our family, in Vicky’s case this would include the kids she babysat and the boarders she and Alfred took in, as well as those we are challenged to care for are in fact all folks we are called to “love because [God] first loved us” in fact “we love because He first loved us.” The same John who wrote this and wrote our Gospel for today says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Victoria showed her love to you in the ways she knew best including her baking and cooking because she knew and believed firmly the love of God for her. Saint John says that this love is not an abstract feeling it’s as real and tangible as the food on your plate, the soup in your bowl, this is why St. John says, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (the reconciliation) for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
Vicky’s willingness to suffer in order to show her love to you points to Jesus: The night before His Good Friday death when Jesus told us not to let our “hearts be troubled” and the day of His death on the cross with all its bitterness is described like this in the Bible, when we are told as Christians to look to, “Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus was willing to endure suffering, shame and death because of the joy that was set before Him. Victoria was a joyful person; she had the joy joy joy joy of Jesus down in her heart. And she knew and trusted what was coming in the future, what awaited her in the future, because of the Love of Jesus for her, for you and for me. This is where we swing back around to our Gospel reading for today and the promises we find there from Jesus, after He says, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me.” Jesus continues on to say, “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? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.” … “In My Father's house are many rooms” you can rest assure that among those rooms will be kitchens.
When Jesus promises to take His Christians to Himself so that they will be where He is, His isn’t joking around, He means it. He is as He says He is, “the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through [Him].” He went through pain and suffering and death and is resurrected from the dead. His Easter Morning victory over sin, death and the devil is now Victoria’s victory too! On The Last Day we are taught from the Bible that “[God] will wipe away every tear from [the] eyes [of those who have suffered in this life and died with faith in His Son Jesus], and [that in heaven] death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Remember that the things that pass away are the physical troubles, the sins, the frustrations, these are things that Vicky will no longer deal with, everything that held her back will be gone and she will find her way into one of those many rooms, one of those many kitchens to fire up the stove and grab a pot, to check out all the pans and check out the heavenly pantries … and if you thought her cooking and baking was great in this life think of how it will be in the perfection of heaven, with the perfect love of Jesus in every bite.
In love God has given this gift to Victoria, she received it in her baptism into Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension; she received it over and over again from Jesus’ table in Holy Communion; she heard it in His Word when she was in Church listening to the Bible being read and preached to her; and now Jesus has come to take her to Himself to give her all that was promised to her. This is not only for her – this is for you. Keep your eyes on Jesus, taste and see that the Lord is good and take refuge in Him as Victoria did. Listen to Jesus as He calls to you in His Word and Hold fast to Him as Vicky did till we meet her again in Christ Jesus. 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 4:16
 1 John 4:19
 1 John 4:7–11
 Hebrews 12:2
 Revelation 21:4
 Psalm 34:8