The Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.
Saturday of Pentecost III, 23 June 2012, 1 pm
Graveside Committal Sermon for Lillian Sadler
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming
"I am the resurrection and the life," says the Lord. "He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die." John 11:25-26
Lillian’s help came from the Lord. Jesus is her Savior. Today we lay our sister in Christ to rest next to her beloved William.
One of the Psalms appointed for the Committal of a Christian is Psalm 121, a psalm written for a place like this.
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
For a moment, the Psalmist’s question just hang there, like clouds floating over a mountaintop in the distance. Mountains have great strength, but no strength to save us. The true answer comes in verse two: 2 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
The Psalms are the first Christian hymnal. These texts were composed to be sung. As most of you know, one of Lillian’s prized possessions was her hymnal, her personal copy of The Lutheran Hymnal of 1941. She had to show it to me on my first visit to her. She heard the same language of “page 15” when I brought her Communion after confession, Word, sermon, hymn, and prayer.
Hymns were one way Lillian expressed her faith in Christ.
Would you believe that she insisted on buying a copy of our revised 2006 hymnal, Lutheran Service Book? As soon as I gave it to her, I remember her giving it a hug and then running her fingers over the cover throughout the rest of our visit that day.
3 He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. 4 Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord Himself kept watch over Lillian all the days of her life, from her birth and baptism to her Confirmation and first communion in 1944 (4/23), her wedding day and the births of her beloved children, to the day when her husband passed and went to be with the Lord, and even the day when the Lord called her home to Himself. Now, she enjoys His very presence!
5 The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. 6 The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord doesn’t totally take all the bad things out of our lives. He does make our lives in this valley of the shadow bearable. He calls, gathers, enlightens, and keeps us in the true faith of Jesus Christ. He provides us sanctuary in His house as He delivers forgiveness, life, and salvation according to His promises. The S U N sun does not strike us because of the S O N Son of God. And we have no fear of the evil foe in moonlight because Jesus has overcome sin, death, and our old evil foe.
7The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. 8The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.
Today’s graveside reflects some of my last pastoral care to Lillian in Word, hymnody, and prayer. Since she retired from running the family trucking company, she struggled with health issues. She still kept her singular sense of humor. I’ll miss that.
On the Last Day, Lillian Amalia Sadler will be resurrected to eternal life in this place. What a beautiful place to begin eternity in the new heaven and new earth. We mourn Lilllian because we loved her and still love her. We also rejoice with her because of the gift of her heavenly inheritance she now enjoys. All those who die with faith in Christ have the same gifts of forgiveness, life, and eternal salvation in Jesus Christ alone.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.
Lord, bless us as we mourn Lillian, lay her to rest, continue to love her, and look forward to the day when we will once again sing hymns of praise to you with her along with angels, archangels, and all the company of the saints in heaven. Amen.
"I am the resurrection and the life," says the Lord. "He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die." (John 11:25-26). Amen.