The Rev. Paul J Cain
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.