Blog / Book of the Month / Jenine Marie Ruth Huxted Schepens Funeral Sermon – Isaiah 25:6–9, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 & Matthew 11:25-30 May 27th 2023 / Promises of God

Jenine Marie Ruth Huxted Schepens Funeral Sermon – Isaiah 25:6–9, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 & Matthew 11:25-30 May 27th 2023 / Promises of God

Jenine Marie Ruth Huxted Schepens Funeral Sermon – Isaiah 25:6–9, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 & Matthew 11:25-30 May 27th 2023 / Promises of God

Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Saturday May 27th 2023: Season of Easter / Isaiah 25:6–9 "Promises of God"

         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.

         It will be said on that day,

                 “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him,

         that He might save us.

                 This is the LORD; we have waited for Him;

                 let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation.”

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 and family of Jenine Marie Ruth Huxted Schepens, here at Mount Olive we knew her best as Marie and we wish to extend our condolences to you all today. 

In our Scripture readings today from the Bible we have promises from God, promises for the future and promises for today. First God promises in our Old Testament reading to swallow up death forever on His holy Mountain and to provide there a feast of the best of foods and drinks, He promises to wipe away tears from all faces and He promises His people (His family) that He will take away the pain of being disrespected by the World. And in that little passage from 1 Corinthians, that we heard after the one from Isaiah, God promises to change us from flesh and blood mortals to everlasting flesh and blood immortals which we will see the fulfilment of in the twinkling of an eye at the sound of the trumpet on The Last Day. And finally in our Gospel reading from the Gospel of Saint Matthew Jesus Himself, God the Father’s Son, promises rest for your soul when you come to Him with your burdens. Now if something is promised to us then we are called to be patient until we receive the thing promised, we’re called to wait for the Lord, to wait for God. It’s not unusual to want to have the promised gift right now. It’s also not unusual to be tempted to be angry when we don’t get everything right away. Or to be angry when something happens that calls all of these promises into question like the early death of Marie. It’s safe to say that we’d all hoped to have more time with her now, to have more time with her in this life and now we are pressed into patient waiting for a reunion in the future in Christ Jesus. Today we have things we wish we could have said, things we wish we could have heard from her, but these things will now need to wait and this hurts and makes us sad and angry and in that sorrow and grief we can be tempted to look down on the promises of God. What I can tell you is that Marie valued those promises of God and even in the midst of our ups and downs we too can hold on to those promises like she did.   

When Marie moved near the church here with Alex, Jenna and Brianna (three of her five kids) she wanted you three to have these promises that we heard from the Bible this morning for yourself, along with all of the promises of God found there in those pages and all the gifts God gives in this life, that’s why she brought you here and encouraged you along the way in your faith. As best she could along the way she wanted this for all of you. Like I said, she had these promises for herself and she trusted in them and she wanted that for you too. An untimely death isn’t the only thing that can get in the way of these promises, life in general and everything that comes with it often gets in the way of these promises of God too, and try as we might we ourselves can even get in our own way when it comes to these promises, and we can even get in the way of others by our own words and the things we do. But just because something is challenging doesn’t mean it isn’t worth grabbing hold of, none of us are perfect in what we say and do and Marie would tell you that of herself. Yet she always wanted things to improve and she worked towards that to the best of her abilities because she knew that things can improve and that the way things are right now in the moment aren’t always going to be the way things will be in the future. Marie certainly had a big heart, full of love, and she also had a heart that asked for forgiveness when she needed it. This is part of her trust in the promises of the Lord; trust that when we turn to God, God graciously forgives us for the times we’ve turned away, that He is ever at work making a new heart in us, a heart of love, a heart that will be made perfect in The End.

When we think of that Old Testament reading about the Mountain, think of it as an invitation to turn to that Mountain. Marie loved the Mountains, especially the Rocky Mountains, and wanted to have a little bit of property in the Mountains, this was a dream of hers. So what about the Mountain in the Old Testament reading from Isaiah today? Where is it? Is it a real Mountain? It is a real Mountain, not like the Rocky Mountains but a very real place and I’ve been there to see it for myself, this Mountain is the Mountain on which the city of Jerusalem is built in Israel and outside of the city walls there was a hill, a little Mountain, on which Jesus was crucified and that hill is called Golgotha and that’s where Jesus swallowed up death forever fulfilling that promise of God from the Book of Isaiah in the Bible. Now days mount Golgotha on that Mountain is in inside the city walls of Jerusalem, but it is still there. Back in the first century when the Gospels were written the innocent Jesus hung there at the cross shedding His blood for us, His body covered through and through with all our failures and sins,[1] Jesus took all the ugliness and troubles that come with sin and death and swallowed them up there forever[2] and in return He won for us there a foretaste of the promised feast which is to come. This foretaste is His Supper, the Lord’s Supper, a meal of forgiveness with each other and with Him, a meal that the Church still celebrates, even now, as we wait for all the promises of God about the future to be fulfilled on The Last Day. A meal where we can, “taste and see that the LORD is good [;]” a meal where we can “takes refuge in [this same Jesus,]”[3] and find our rest through the ups and downs of life. When this is yours, in Christ Jesus, then you truly begin to have rest for your soul even when the whole World seems to be stacked against you, even when the whole World is actually—for real—stacked against you. All of this is the answer to these old, long standing, promises: promises God the Father made good on in His Son Jesus. And now for today we have these promises for the future, some of which we start to see the fulfilment of when we are called home to be with the Lord.

In the Gospel of John as Jesus was going to the cross said to His worried disciples, “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.”[4] The Father’s house is a place of rest and Marie now has her promised rest in Christ Jesus, rest for her body and rest for her soul. What’s more Jesus also promises that He is the one who gives eternal life to those who believe in Him saying, that “no one will snatch them out of [His] hand. My Father, [Jesus says] who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”[5] These are wonderful promise because Jesus who was dead and then on Easter came back from the dead risen to Eternal life, now promises to give to us what is His, this same Eternal Life, and a place in His Father’s House. Marie had this promise in life and now in Christ Jesus she has the fulfilment of this promise. This promise is for you. She is in God’s hands with all those who believe in Him not because she was the perfect Christian but because Jesus who is perfect loved her and loves her still. This same Jesus loves you.  

We are not always that great at keeping promises, we make them and we break them, we even make them to ourselves and then we break those too. When life gets like that it starts to get hard to trust in any promises at all, we yet still have these promises of God to hold onto and He is faithful,[6] even when we struggle to be. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,”[7] just as He was toward Marie. This is Good News, because we all need the patience of others, the patience of God, in our life. The promises of God and the patience of God, given to us in Christ Jesus, truly provide rest for our soul when the World gives us no rest, when we can’t even give ourselves any peace of mind. Marie would want for you to have this, to trust this, to trust that she’s safe and at rest in the hands of Jesus and that His promises are worth hanging onto no matter what life throws at you, no matter what the World puts in front of you. And then, to the best of your ability, to remember that whatever the circumstances of life might be in the moment things can always improve and we can help make that happen for each other as we hold onto these promises of God 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] 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake He made [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
[2] Colossians 2:13–14, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses … God made alive together with [Christ Jesus], having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross.”
[3] Psalm 34:8
[4] John 14:1–3
[5] John 10:28–30
[6] 2 Timothy 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:24
[7] 2 Peter 3:9

Photo Credits: main photo provided by the family and Mount Olive Lutheran Church; detail of praying hands with Bible from pexels; photo of Mount Olive Lutheran Church at sunrise by Pastor Ted Giese; detail of photo of the Rocky Mountians from pexels; detail of photo of Jesus crucified statue from pexels; detail of photo of Rocky Mountains from pexels.