Monday, September 18, 2017

Funeral Sermon for Duane Raymond Terry on 15 September 2017, + 9 September 2017

The Rev. Paul J Cain
Romans 1:17, Ephesians 2:8-10
A Lutheran
Funeral Sermon for Duane Terry + 9 September 2017
Saturday of Pentecost XIV, 15 September 2017
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, WY

In the Name of Jesus Amen.
“You know, you’re really a Lutheran.” That is exactly what two close family members told Duane Terry. So he called us up. And according to him, after hearing answers to his questions, they were right. In recent months I visited him at home. He came to church on Sundays. I answered his questions. And now he is at rest and at peace in Christ Jesus. This afternoon you have heard Scripture that he heard here, at home, and on his last day on earth.

There is a common theme throughout today’s memorial service: grace—amazing and ours in Christ alone. Ephesians 2:8-10 explains: 8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Faith is a gift from God. Salvation is not a result of works. These are truths echoed throughout Scripture. We aren’t saved because of our works, we do not deserve forgiveness, and we could never earn heaven by being “good enough.” Instead, God loves us, forgives us, and saves us not because of who we are or what we do, but because of the work of Jesus. We are declared righteous by God Himself because of the work of Christ as our substitute. By faith, we receive those gifts, His righteousness. That is the good news of the Gospel.
Duane’s questions began with the differences between his background and a Lutheran confession of the Christian faith. We did this with respect, honestly, and in light of what God’s Word says, our primary text.
Luther’s Small Catechism, a teaching tool used across denominational lines for five centuries, focused us on the Six Chief Parts of the teachings of Holy Scripture: the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, Confession and the Office of the Keys, and the Sacrament of the Altar.
He didn’t have to learn a different numbering system for the Commandments. He learned the Law shows us our sin and the Gospel shows us our Savior. Our time with the Creed focused on the work of Christ for Him, the Gospel, in anticipation of heaven and the resurrection of the dead. He knew the Our Father and prayed it often, especially while looking at the crucifix across from his recliner. Lutherans use those, too. We are included as children of Our Heavenly Father because Jesus said so! Luther’s teaching on confession was comforting to Duane because the Bible teaches that Jesus make complete satisfaction for sin, that it is impossible to remember to confess every sin, and that making confession mandatory turns the Gospel of Christ into a new human law. We were about to review Baptism and Communion as his health suddenly declined, yet based on his early questions, he was also comforted that he had been baptized in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and that Lutherans confess that the Lord’s Supper is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine given for the forgiveness of sins. At the time of his passing, we had yet to talk about the duties Scripture lays out for different vocations, and more questions. We did discuss daily prayer and how Lutherans may make the sign of the cross. +
Why have Scripture alone as our authority for faith and life? Individual Christian leaders and church conventions contradict one another and sometimes go against Scripture. Humans are sinful and institutions are often not trustworthy. Our emotions are an unreliable barometer of spiritual truth. Popular opinions change frequently. Culture always demands changes of Christians and never will be satisfied. Experience varies from person to person and people can disappoint you. The truth of Scripture is always reliable and is worth wrestling with, as Duane did.

Luther did, too. He was struggling with a phrase from Romans 1:17: "In it the righteousness of God is revealed." He felt that it stood in his way because he had been taught, like many Christians of his day and ours, that it referred to a philosophical understanding, where God is righteous and punishes the unrighteous sinner.
Luther wrote, “Though I lived as a monk without reproach, I felt that I was a sinner before God with an extremely disturbed conscience.” He was angry at a God who crushed sinners because of both original sin and breaking the Ten Commandments. Luther understood “gospel” at that time as God “threatening us with his righteousness and wrath.”
 “At last,” he says, “by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, ‘In it the righteousness of God is revealed, as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.”’” There he began to understand that the righteousness of God is righteousness from God as a gift, that by which the righteous lives by another gift of God, by faith. He continues, “And this is the meaning: the righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, namely, the passive righteousness with which [our] merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live.’ Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates. There a totally other face of the entire Scripture showed itself to me. Thereupon I ran through the Scripture from memory. I also found in other terms an analogy, as, the work of God, that is what God does in us, the power of God, with which he makes us wise, the strength of God, the salvation of God, the glory of God.” Luther's Works Volume 34, Career of the Reformer IV (St. Louis, Concordia Publishing House, 1960), p. 336-337. In summary, “of God” means “from God” and for our benefit.

On one of our visits after Duane had been here for church several times (and even had a Small Catechism of his own in book form), he held up his smart phone and said, “I found an app of the Small Catechism. Is this an ok translation?” Indeed it was. And we both smiled.
Lutherans are Christians who confess the truths of Holy Scripture about all matters of faith and life. We see Scripture as the only true authority because it alone is God’s Word. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone as taught in Scripture alone. And all this is to God’s glory alone. Our righteousness comes from God in Christ! By faith, Duane Raymond Terry confessed Christ. In God’s mercy and grace, he is covered by the blood of Christ. Now, with him, we await the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. Amen.

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Funeral Sermon for Jean Robinson

The Rev. Paul J Cain
Psalm 51:10-12
That’s the Savior
Funeral Sermon for Jean Robinson
Tuesday of Trinity XXIV, 17 November 2016
At Champion Funeral Home
While Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, WY

In the Name of Jesus Amen.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Jean Robinson prayed these verses of Psalm 51 on countless occasions during her life. In so doing, she confessed her sins. As a Christian, she also confessed her Savior.
When I was invited by the family to visit Jean at Sheridan Manor, I took the weekly bulletin and my hymnal with me. My wife and Jean’s daughters were there, too. As soon as Jean saw the bulletin for the Third Sunday of Easter, featuring Jesus as our Good Shepherd, she exclaimed, “That’s the Savior!” Over the course of that visit and many others, we read Scripture, including John 10, prayed, and sang. Jean was able to sing along with us on many hymns that remained in her heart by faith and in her long-term memory, even in the midst of the horrible disease that afflicted her. And Judy and Jody both read, prayed, and sang with her, especially in these last weeks. They were also smiling, crying, and hugging because of Jean’s response to the Word. The family had prayed for God the Holy Spirit to work through the Word and He did, answering those prayers.
Christians are not perfect. We are forgiven because of who Jesus is and what He has done for us. His suffering, death, and resurrection creates in us clean hearts by the work of God the Holy Spirit. He creates a right spirit within us. In the Father’s love, mercy, and grace, because of the atonement of Jesus, He does not cast us away from His presence. The Holy Spirit abides in us and we abide in Him by faith. The joy of salvation is restored, joy that the family and others saw for ourselves. The Lord Himself upheld Jean, gave her a willing spirit, and she joyfully heard the Word of the Lord, prayed with us, and sang with us. Today, as we miss and remember her, we sing some of those hymns and scripture songs.
In this life, each Christian is simultaneously a sinner and a saint, still in the flesh and in this world, yet forgiven in Christ. Jean’s family was important to her, and you know it. She loved kids. She also loved gardening and moving rocks…repeatedly. Jean Robinson also loved her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. She confessed her sins and was forgiven. She confessed her Beautiful Savior and is now at peace, at rest, and with Him and all who trusted in Christ in this life. With Jean, we await the Last Day and the Resurrection, when the Lord’s long-term plan for her and us and all creation will be fulfilled. Creation itself will be restored. And we will rejoice.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit.
As you look at the picture of Jesus the Good Shepherd on the cover of this bulletin, pray Psalm 51 and confess with Jean, “That’s the Savior!”

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

13 November 2016

Today's sermon for the Commemoration of Martin Luther (Birth, Observed) was provided by synod, based on Hebrews 13:7 and written by the Rev. Dr. Larry Rast.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Funeral Sermon for Carol Hohbach

The Rev. Paul J Cain
Philippians 2:5-11
Funeral Sermon for Carol Hohbach
Tuesday of Trinity XXIV, 8 November 2016
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, WY

In the Name of Jesus Amen.
“Shepherd of tender youth, Guiding in love and truth Through devious ways; Christ, our triumphant king, We come Your name to sing And here our children bring To join Your praise.” (LSB 864:1, 5)
March 29, 1953 was Carol’s Confirmation Day. Yes, it was when Immanuel was still at our Park Street location, but she had been a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, from before her Confirmation Day. That day, the confirmands heard Philippians 2: 5-11 read as the Epistle, for their Confirmation Day was also Palm Sunday. This is the second time I’ve buried someone from that very confirmation class. To confess Christ one’s whole life long, be a member of the same congregation for so much of her life (before and after what Gordon calls their 30-year U-turn after living elsewhere), and an active member at that, is something for which we thank the Lord.
There is a hole in our hearts because of her loss. For me, it is visual and physical. I can show you right where she sat on Sundays. She even brought her own personal pew. By faith and example, she believed, understood, and lived these verses from Philippians 2:
5Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Carol clung so closely to her Savior. You see, the name Jesus means Savior, “the Lord saves.” He took the form of a servant, being born in the likeness and form of humanity. He was conceived, born, lived, taught, preached, suffered, died, and rose for you. And for Carol. And since Jesus is the only source of forgiveness, life, and salvation, this is where she came to receive those gifts and confess her faith (often in song) and trust in Him.
5          So now, and till we die, Sound we Your praises high And joyful sing: Infants and all the throng, Who to the Church belong, Unite to swell the song To Christ, our king!
How could she, and how could we sing a hymn like that this morning? By faith. By faith in Christ. Out of God-given trust in Christ. In this life, Christians confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, and we do so in joy, for Has more gifts in store!
Yes, heaven is one of those gifts. It’s not earned. It’s not deserved. Heaven is a gift because of Christ’s death on the cross for us and because of His Resurrection and empty tomb.
Carol knew the Lord’s language of invitation. She heard such language again in today’s Old Testament reading, read at our very first nursing home service at Sheridan Manor one month ago, where Carol was for rehab. The five of us met in the chapel there at the facility and heard Isaiah 55, Psalm 27, and our opening hymn, The Church’s One Foundation.
It was always special to me when Carol rolled up to the rail for Holy Communion. Gordon, you know what I’m talking about. She got to join the Elders and Ushers at the final table of distribution. Another member of the congregation told me: “She didn’t let anything get between her and Jesus. She was there at church, at Communion. Her example was encouraging to me.”
How many times did she hear the blessing when a pastor dismisses the communicants? “The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen and preserve you in body and soul to life everlasting. Depart + in peace.”
We now wait for our reunion with Carol and with the Lord. We await the fulfillment of those very promises in the dismissal blessing. We await the Resurrection. We trust the Lord and His promise to “raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.” On the Last day, she will receive a glorified, perfected body like that of her Savior. She won’t need her wheels in that Day of Resurrection. Her faith, her confession, will be a completed reality.
Today, we join in confessing the faith that Carol and so many before her confessed, as she and her confirmation class promised to in 1953, “the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Remember her love for sports, music, art, and her family and friends, but above all, remember that she confessed Christ!
“Thine forever, God of Love! Hear us from Thy throne above; Thine forever may we be Here and in eternity!” (LSB 687:1)

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.