Rev. Paul J Cain
Funeral Service Sermon for Martha Sene
Monday of Epiphany IV, 01 February 2010
(Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming)
At Champion-Ferries Funeral Home
In the Name of Jesus. Amen
“Let the water and the blood, From Thy riven side which flowed, Be of sin the double cure: Cleanse me from its guilt and power.” Martha Sene was washed in the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. He washed her sins away in Holy Baptism and forgave them with His Word of Gospel, as she heard Holy Scripture read, sung, and preached, and as she received the Lord’s Body and Blood in His Supper.
It is amazing to realize that Martha was born over one hundred years ago. It is more amazing to me as her pastor that she fell asleep in Christ Jesus just two days before the anniversary of that washing of Holy Baptism. This is where God gets personal. He called her by name and placed His Name on her. She celebrated her 100th baptismal birthday in the arms of her Lord Jesus.
Martha owed her name to another Martha, one who had a sister named Mary and a late brother named Lazarus: 17Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
Did you hear what Martha confessed? “Yes, Lord; I believe that you [Jesus] are the Christ, the Son of God who came into the world.” Countless times our Martha confessed her faith in Christ. She recited and prayed the Apostles’ Creed as she learned it and the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer from The Small Catechism. She was a pillar of Christian faith in her home, a blessing to her husband, Verne, especially on his deathbed, and a Christian example to Marlin and Royce so that they would know and love their Savior, their Rock of Ages, and believe in Him and follow Him.
Our members at Immanuel remember Martha as a neat lady, a nice person, soft-spoken, and often quiet. She was a “second mom” to one gentleman I spoke to. But that is not why we are here today. We have come to pay our last respects to Martha and console her mourning family and friends, yet we worship and praise the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thanking our Triune God for the gift of Martha and how He blessed us through her. He gave her the gift of salvation itself as her favorite hymn says, “Thou must save, and Thou alone.” We praise our Father in heaven for sending His only-begotten Son to save Martha and us, for calling her to faith by the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word. Christ died and rose for your salvation, too.
I had the honor of serving Martha as her pastor, paying her a visit at Westview about once a month since last April. I would leave a bulletin if she was resting and then circle back that same day or week to see her again. My visits with her would focus on one of the Scripture readings of the week, a hymn, and a prayer. The bulletins and devotionals later were joined by a CD player and recordings of our Sunday services at Immanuel.
My last visit to Martha was last Wednesday the 27th between 2:30 and 3:00 in the afternoon. She was agitated, far more than usual. I read a portion of the Gospel of John, Jesus’ first miracle at Cana. She was really struggling. We now know why. And then I said, “Martha, will you pray with me? Our Father….” She was unable to join in that time, as she had with me and many of you up until recently, but she calmed down and had some peace. And she joined her Lord in heaven that very day, two days before her 100th baptismal birthday.
It is often hard to see our loved ones age and lose their former strength and to notice when they forget. We ache and grown with all creation in expectation of Judgment Day, the Last Day, Resurrection Day, when our bodies will rise, be like Jesus’ glorious body, and be rejoined to our souls. Jesus returns to give eternal life to you and Martha and all who believe in Christ.
Martha may have never known my name, but she knew my uniform and the gifts of Christ shared with her. She may have forgotten familiar names and faces, but there were those moments of “remembering,” when the light in her eyes and her words expressed that she recognized that voice, that laugh, that Word of the Lord, and the prayer Jesus taught us. The Lord’s Prayer was so deep in her that she would never forget the comfort of Christ. She could not always verbalize her thanks the way she used to, but she did value the visits of her family and longtime friends.
By faith, Martha Sene clung to the Rock of Ages. And she had hope in this life and a hiding place in the Lord Jesus when she drew her fleeting breath and as her eyelids closed.
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.