Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Saturday, March 06, 2010

In Memoriam +Hulda Katherine Puschel+

In Memoriam +Hulda Katherine Puschel+
March 6, 2010
Text: Job 19:21-27; Rev. 14:13; Luke 2:25-32

Dear Paul and Diana, family and friends of Hulda, members of Epiphany, Beloved in the Lord: Grace, mercy, and peace to your from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

“We go to the Lord’s Supper as though going to our death, so that we may go to our death as though going to the Lord’s Supper.”[1] Since I arrived at Epiphany almost four years ago, I came to know Hulda primarily in the context of bringing her the Lord’s Supper. For she was already failing when I arrived, soon in the nursing home, temporarily at first, then permanently. I didn’t get to meet the Hulda Puschel that you all knew. I was never able to have very deep or extensive conversations with her. But please don’t misunderstand. I did have a very deep relationship with her, for, privileged to be her pastor in her last years, our relationship centered always and only on what is most important: Christ, our only Savior and Lord, and His gifts in His Word and Supper. So the visits with Hulda were short, and the small-talk was labored, but the minute we began our service, “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit,” Hulda came alive in a new way. Even when she couldn’t talk to me about anything else of substance, she was always awakened by the Word of God. She knew every word of the liturgy, and spoke them clearly along with me. She even spoke my parts. She recited most of the Scripture readings with me, especially when I read them in the King’s English. She had undoubtedly memorized them in Catechism class and held on to them tenaciously the rest of her life. The Word of our gracious Lord Jesus entered her ear and was planted in her heart, spilling over in the praise and confession of her lips. And then, together, in the presence of angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, Hulda and I received our Lord’s true body and blood under the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper, for our forgiveness, eternal life, and salvation.

I mention all of this here, not to point out what a great Christian Hulda was. She certainly was that, but she was also a sinner. She confessed it every time we met, and her gracious Savior absolved her of her sin every time we met. I mention all of this here because we see in the life and death of Hulda Puschel the faithfulness of our Lord Jesus Christ, who by His Spirit and His gifts sustained Hulda to the end, and has now taken her to Himself in heaven. He has taken her to Himself in heaven not because of Hulda’s faithfulness, but because of His own faithfulness, the faithfulness that led Him to His bitter suffering and death on the cross for the forgiveness of Hulda’s sins, and the sins of the whole world, your sins and mine. This is the same faithfulness of our Lord Jesus Christ that was vindicated in His resurrection from the dead, and bestowed upon Hulda in her Baptism into Christ on February 6th, 1921, so that she, too, on the Last Day, will be raised in her body to eternal life. She will, as Job says, see with her own eyes and in her own flesh, her Redeemer and God standing upon the earth (Job 19:25-27).

And so Hulda this day is among the blessed saints of God who enjoy the beatific vision of our Lord in heaven, and await the sure and certain resurrection of their bodies on the Last Day. This is what is meant by the voice in heaven that declares in our Epistle Lesson: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on” (Rev. 14:13; ESV). Blessed are the dead? Yes, but only those who die in the Lord… those who die in the faith of Jesus Christ. Death is always tragic, always sad, and so we mourn, even the death of a dear Christian like Hulda. For man is not meant for death. Death is the result of sin. The wages of sin is death. But when that death is “in the Lord,” the death of one who is united to Christ by Baptism and faith, we recognize that death is but a sleep. Death is but a sleep from which the sleeper will be awakened in the resurrection of all flesh. Hulda’s soul is now with Jesus in heaven and her body will soon be laid to rest in the grave, but this is not a permanent reality. This is not a permanent separation of body and soul. She will be raised! Bodily! Death is not the end of the story, because Christ, who died, is now risen from the dead, and will give life to all His saints in their bodies when He comes again in glory.

Therefore the Christian can go to his or her death as though going to the Lord’s Supper. And throughout this earthly life the Christian goes to the Lord’s Supper in preparation for his or her death. In this earthly life the Christian comes again and again to Christ’s altar and receives His true body, given into death for the sins of the world, and His true blood, shed for our forgiveness, and this is a sign and seal of eternal life. This is a pledge of the resurrection to come. For it is none other than the risen Lord Jesus who places these gifts into the mouths of His Christians. Throughout her life, Hulda came to the altar of God to receive these gifts, and when she was no longer able to come, the altar of God came to her with these gifts. And throughout her life, after receiving this tangible salvation under the bread and wine, Christ’s body and blood, the fullness of the Lord would spill over in the praise and confession of Hulda’s lips in the words of Simeon: “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen they salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people” (Luke 2:29-31; KJV). “Lord, now I can die. I can die, knowing that in Christ, I live. For You have shown me and given me my Savior and Lord Christ in the Supper. I have seen with my own eyes His salvation in this, His body and blood. I know and believe beyond the shadow of a doubt that my Lord Jesus, who died and is risen and now gives me these gifts, will give me eternal life and awaken me from death. And I know that this salvation is for all people, for me, for my loved ones, for the whole world. Therefore, O Lord, I rest in You” “We go to the Lord’s Supper as though going to our death, so that we may go to our death as though going to the Lord’s Supper.”

And note well, that when we go to the Lord’s Supper, we come into the presence of angels and archangels and all the company of heaven. That is to say, our relationship with Hulda continues, centered always and only on what is most important: Christ, our Savior and Lord, and His gifts in His Word and Supper. Hulda still joins us at the Supper, only now from the other side of the altar. She is with us again when we join her here.

And it is so important for us to be here. Because here we are prepared for our own death. Here our sins are forgiven, covered by the precious blood of Christ. Here we are given the pledge and seal of eternal life, salvation, and our own resurrection from the dead. Here we are given Christ and His faithfulness, His righteousness. Here death’s reign is ended, its sting overcome by Christ’s victory. Here death is dead, and Christ is our life. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

[1] Dr. Kenneth Korby, quoted by the Rev. William Cwirla, http://blog.higherthings.org/wcwirla/article/1673.html.

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