Lorraine Kathleen Paul Funeral Sermon – John 10:14-18, 27-30 January 13th 2024 / I am Jesus’ Little Lamb
Lorraine Kathleen Paul Funeral Sermon - Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Saturday January 13th 2024: Season of Epiphany / John 10:14-18, 27-30 “I am Jesus’ Little Lamb”
[Jesus says] "I am the Good Shepherd. I know My own and My own know Me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. So there will be one flock, one Shepherd. For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from My Father. … 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.”
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. The last time I saw Lorraine was in hospital, in the palliative care unit, and she was—you could say—preparing to travel to her eternal rest. She knew she was reaching the end of this life and she was ready to depart, all she needed to do was to wait for her ride. From the Scriptures I read to her these words “It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD,” and so she waited for the LORD, waited for Jesus. I also read for her Psalm 23 which we heard this morning, and we talked about Jesus being her Good Shepherd, you heard more about this in our Gospel reading today. I reminded her that when it came to death Jesus had gone on ahead of her, He knew the way through the valley of the shadow of death to the other side of it, and that He was with her as she walked it and for this reason she didn’t have to travel it alone. And that this same Good Shepherd Jesus was also the “Goodness and Mercy” that had followed her all the days of her life. We had Holy Communion where Jesus promises to come to us in the meal for the forgiveness of our sins and I sang to her the hymn we sang before the sermon today, “I am Jesus’ Little Lamb,” and so she was, and is, and ever shall be that little lamb of Jesus’. Lorraine waited for her departure to travel to “the house of the LORD” trusting this and holding fast to her Lord and Saviour, that Great Shepherd of the sheep.
During her life Lorraine enjoyed traveling, family trips, winters down in Mesa Arizona with her husband George (I’m sure on a frosty deepfreeze of a day like today we’d all like to be down there right now), they’d been blessed to spend over twenty winters down there together, and there were many, many years along the way where Lorraine was ready at the drop of a hat to travel somewhere not just Arizona, in fact she often had a travel “go bag” ready and waiting in the trunk of the car. Darleen recalled how one time when her son, Lorraine’s nephew was getting married in Nova Scotia that Lorraine was packed and ready to go before anyone else, already sitting in the back seat of Darleen’s car: that’s the family joke, but it’s not too far from the truth. There’s something to be said about being ready. When you’re ready to go, you become free to live life to the fullest and as I said, in these last days, Lorraine knew the next trip she was about to take. Not knowing this story from Darleen when I was last seeing Lorraine I said to her, “Lorraine, right now you just take it easy, you don’t have to do the driving, rest and wait for Jesus, He’ll do the driving for you; He’ll get you where you’re going.” That’s what the Good Shepherd does for His sheep, for His little lambs, He “bring them” along with Him, and when He’s gathered them together He makes them into “one flock” in His Sheepfold, He gives them “eternal life” and He promises that “no one will snatch them out of [His] hand.” In all these things Jesus is in the driver’s seat, with His hands on the wheel and when Jesus came to her Lorraine was packed and ready to go on this final trip, sitting in the back seat ready to travel to her heavenly home. “I am Jesus' little lamb, Ever glad at heart I am; For my Shepherd gently guides me, Knows my need and well provides me, Loves me ev'ry day the same, Even calls me by my name.”
Dear ones Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd. I know My own and My own know Me,” He says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” Are you, like Lorraine, one of Jesus’ little lambs? Do you hear Jesus’ voice? Are you “following Him” as she did? Perhaps you are conflicted, maybe your life is not going the way you expected when it comes to spiritual matters. Are there days where you think to yourself ‘well I hope I’m one of Jesus’ little lambs, but I feel lost,’ if this is you listen to Jesus’ voice now as I read to you a parable that Jesus our Good Shepherd teaches, “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbours, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, [Jesus says] I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” None of us are without sin, Lorraine needed Jesus’ forgiveness as much as any of us do, but if you are feeling particularly lost at this moment and you’re left worried about your own death, or the state of your life at this time, if you’re wondering about whether your bags are packed or whether you’re prepared to travel to your eternal rest at the drop of a hat, take heart Jesus your Good Shepherd comes to you in the open country to lay you on His shoulders and bring you home. Listen His voice and follow Him. Holding fast to Him, and trusting that He is holding fast to you, then you can make the word of the last verse of the Hymn we sang yours in this life “Who so happy as I am, Even now the Shepherd's lamb? And when my short life is ended, By His angel host attended, He shall fold me to His breast, There within His arms to rest.”
Lorraine knew that this was not something we do for ourselves; this is the work of the Good Shepherd. Trusting this meant that she could confidently teach her children to pray, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep and if I die before I wake I pray the Lord my soul to take.” To take where: to take to the Lord’s Eternal Kingdom, through the pearly gates into the Promised Land of Life Everlasting, to Heaven where “He will wipe away every tear from [the] eyes [of His little lambs], and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore [in that place], for the former things have passed away;” passed away deep into the distance of the rear view mirror never to be seen again. Lorraine taught this prayer to her children, prayed this prayer with them to help them pack their spiritual “go bag” so every night they could put their heads down on their pillows to sleep and be ready to go should the Good Shepherd call them home. You are never so old that you cannot pray this prayer, in fact Jesus says “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” No matter what our age, we who are baptised and believe are children of God and so is Lorraine.
We’re about to sing “Jesus loves Me” a hymn dear to Lorraine and one she sang with the children as they grew up, a song of childlike confidence that sometimes under the pressures of life and the grinding hardships of this world adults are tempted to lose. Dear ones, hold fast to these words remembering the promise Jesus makes in our Gospel reading today where Jesus says of His little lambs “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong; they are weak, but He is strong. … Jesus loves me He who died heaven's gate to open wide. He has wash away my sin, lets His little child come in.” In her weakness Jesus was Lorraine’s strength, He prepared the way that she has now traveled, He has led Lorraine safely through the gates to her rest as He promised; dear little lamb of the Good Shepherd this promise is not just for Lorraine it is for 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.
 Lamentations 3:26
 Luke 15:4–7
 Revelation 21:4
 Mark 10:14–15