Minnie Schmidt Funeral Sermon - Hebrews 13:6–8 May 1st 2023 / The Lord is My Helper
Minnie Schmidt Funeral Sermon - Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Monday May 1st 2023: Season of Easter / Hebrews 13:6–8 “The Lord is My Helper”
We [in Christ] can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
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 Minnie Schmidt. The text from Scripture that the sermon is drawn from today is from the Book of Hebrews chapter 13 where, first, the Christian says, “We can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”
[… and then, secondly, where it commends to us:]
“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
Tracking backwards let’s start with the confession of faith from the Book of Hebrews that says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Minnie trusted this, when Jesus says of Himself, as we heard in our Gospel reading, “I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me,” those words are as true today as they ever have been and will be as true in the future as they are now, as true as they were the day Jesus spoke them to His disciples the night before His crucifixion. When Jesus in that same reading says “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?” He says this about His going to the cross, where He prepared a place for you hidden away in Him like grain in a grain bin or precious cargo in the hull of a ship or like a heart beating in the chest. Christ Jesus hanging upon the cross is the centre of history and everything hangs off of Him there: our joy, our suffering, our happiness, our sorrow, our sin and our forgiveness. The victory He won for us there over death is actively applied to us and retroactively applied to all who came before that moment in history so we can say that Jesus Christ [Christ crucified] is the same yesterday and today and forever. In the Old Testament God says to us, “Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands;” and when Jesus was risen from the dead He bore the marks of His crucifixion in His body and we hear from the Gospel of John that when He showed Himself to Thomas, the same Thomas who said that he and the other disciples didn’t know where Jesus was going, He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” [Then] Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!” In the Book of revelation Saint John encounters this same Jesus again, saying “He laid His right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I Am The First and The Last, and The Living One. I died, and behold I Am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” The one in whom Minnie trusted. The one in whom she could confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
What does this mean for you? It means you like Minnie can say the same, because “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” This will either be dearly comforting to you or it won’t be. So this leads us to the other important part of this passage from the Book of Hebrews where the writer writes, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” Let’s break this into two parts, first “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God,” then we’ll look at, “Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”
“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the Word of God,” a funeral, and the time swirling around a death like Minnie’s, is certainly and obviously a time to remember them, to remember the one who died, but let’s think on that last bit, “who spoke to you the word of God.” I have it on good authority that Minnie had a habit of speaking her mind to you and while in the moment it might have seemed “mean” sometimes, or it might not have been exactly what you wanted to hear, in retrospect it was what you needed to hear and it came from a place of love. For those of you, especially in the family, those conversations were later cherished. Remember them. Especially remember and cherish them when they reflected what you read in the Word of God.
“Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” I didn’t know Minnie from farming, or from the Bank or from the pots and pans in the Lutheran Home kitchen as some of you will have known her; for my part I knew here from Church so that’s what I can speak to. You can extrapolate from this and apply it to the ways you knew Minnie best. When we consider the outcome of her way of life regarding the Church and her Lord Jesus we see a woman of faith who took her faith seriously. My fondest and most vivid memories of Minnie were from our times together during the pandemic when she would be brought to the Church here by appointment to confess her sins, and to receive forgiveness in the absolution and in Holy Communion where Jesus promises to come to us with His body and blood. This was important to her and while her health made it hard to be with the congregation on Sundays she didn’t want to loss this part of her life in Christ. If you want to imitate her faith, consider imitating her willingness to receive mercy and forgiveness from her gracious Lord Jesus in Holy Communion.
Dear ones, “We love because [God] first loved us.” And “the love of God was made manifest among us, [when] God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him.” Even though Minnie could have very direct words for you at times she was also full of grace and mercy, and she was full of grace and mercy because she herself was a recipient of the grace and mercy of God. If you want to imitate her faith, look to her willingness to receive and give mercy, and to be gracious, because God in Christ Jesus was gracious to her. When you have these things then health concerns, the World, troubles of any kind have no dominion over you and in Christ Jesus you need not be afraid. Minnie, while she had this in spades, still needed to be reminded of this, as we all do, and one of the moments where this was true for her was while she was in hospital on Friday April 21st and in a time of distress she found calm and peace while I sung the hymn “Beautiful Saviour” to her, the hymn we started our service with today. She listened to that Hymn like one listening to clear ringing bells, tones sweetly are calling her to peace, and she said “that was beautiful.” A couple short day later Minnie was at peace in Her Lord with her family gathered around her; a rest long coming for a woman who endured steadfastly in these last few years never complaining about any physical pains although she could have because at every step she knew the Lord was her helper and this same Lord Jesus is “the same yesterday and today and forever.” In Christ Jesus this peace is not only for Minnie it is for you as well. 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.
 John 14:6
 John 14:1–2
 Colossians 3:3
 Isaiah 49:16
 John 20:27–28
 Revelation 1:17–18
 1 John 4:19
 1 John 4:9
 Beautiful Saviour, Lutheran Service Book, Concordia Publishing House 2006, #537
 “Church in the Wildwood,” verse 2.
Photo Credits: main photo provided by family and Mount Olive Lutheran Church; detail stain glass window of Jesus calming the storm from pexels; photo of Holy Communion at Mount Olive from schultzphoto.ca.