Cruce Tectum

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

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Tuesday, June 04, 2013

In Memoriam +Deadre Ann Nemec+


In Memoriam +Deadre Ann Nemec+
June 3, 2013
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Hale, Michigan
Text: Rev. 7:9-17

            It should never have happened.  What you’ve been thinking, what undoubtedly many of you have said in recent days, is absolutely right biblically and theologically speaking.  Deadre should never have had to suffer this affliction.  Deadre should never have died.  God didn’t create us to die.  He created us for eternal life and fellowship with Him.  But something went tragically wrong at the very beginning, in the Garden of Eden.  It’s not just that Adam and Eve took a bite of fruit.  It is that in disobeying God’s command, they rebelled against God, rejected Him as their God, and in this way lost the life that He alone can give (“in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” [Gen. 2:17; ESV]).  (S)in came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” St. Paul writes in Romans (5:12).  And we’ve been doomed ever since.  Sin and death are genetic.  We’re sinners, like our first parents, and we die.  And it’s tragic.  And we grieve.  And it’s okay to grieve.  Even as Christians.  Because it never should have happened.  But it did. 
            So what is God going to do about it?  That’s the next logical question.  But the first question, actually, is what has God done about it?  He sent His Son.  He sent Jesus.  He sent Him to die.  God so loved the world, so loved Deadre, loved her and all of us in this way, that He sent His only-begotten Son to take care of our sin and to take our death into Himself, so that whosoever believes in Him, including our dear sister Deadre, might not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).  So the truth is this: Deadre died, and yet, she lives.  Not just in some figurative sense.  Not just in our hearts, whatever that might mean.  But really and truly, she lives, in Christ, and with Christ in heaven.  Her body has perished.  But her soul is with Jesus.  And that’s not all.  Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.  And here is the promise.  On the Last Day, when our Lord Jesus returns visibly to judge the living and the dead, He will raise all people in their bodies and give eternal life to all believers in Christ.  That means Deadre.  Contrary to our fallen human reason, contrary to what we see with our eyes and what we have thus far experienced in this earthly life, Deadre Ann Nemec will rise from the dead.  In her body.  It will be just like the scene at Lazarus’ grave in our Gospel lesson, only better.  Jesus will say, “Deadre, come out!”  And she will.  You can count on it.  Because Jesus promised, and He is able to deliver on His promise, because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.
            In the meantime, we have for our comfort this beautiful description of the reality of heaven in our second reading from Revelation 7.  This is the reality that our sister, Deadre, even now experiences.  There is a great procession, an innumerable multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language.  They are clothed in white robes, the color of holiness, with palm branches in their hands, the symbol of victory, and they are singing with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven.  They are singing praise to God, and to the Lamb, Jesus.  They are singing about the great salvation our Lord Jesus won on the cross and in His resurrection and has delivered to us by His Spirit in His Word and Sacraments.  Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:10).  Notice, they’re giving all the credit for salvation to God, and to our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We are not saved by what we do.  We are not saved by being good people.  We’re saved by Jesus.  He does it all, and He gives it to us freely, by grace.  But they are right there before the throne of God.  Deadre is in this scene, right there before the throne of God, seeing Him for herself, He whom she once only knew by faith.  She sees Him, and she sings to Him and she’s caught up in the glory and bliss of it all.
            These in white robes, “These are the ones,” the angel tells us, “coming out of the great tribulation.  They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (v. 14).  These are the ones coming out of the fallen world.  These are the ones who are dying and going to heaven.  So there in that line, processing in her white robe and singing praise, is Deadre Nemec.  Her tribulation is over.  She’s come out of it.  Now there is only joy and blessedness.  And her robe is white because it has been washed in the blood of the Lamb.  Blood doesn’t usually turn things white.  But this blood does.  Because it is the blood of Jesus.  And that is what happens in Baptism, that our sin stained robes are washed white in His blood.  Sin is washed away.  Our conscience is made clean.  And we have eternal life. 
            And notice the other wonderful things God does for Deadre and those in heaven as they are gathered before His throne.  It is the opposite of tribulation.  No more hunger and thirst.  No striking sun or scorching heat.  No more disease.  No more sarcoma.  The Lamb, as it happens, is also the Good Shepherd, Jesus, who leads His people to springs of living water.  It is the fulfillment of the 23rd Psalm which we prayed a few moments ago.  And this is particularly beautiful, knowing all that our sister Deadre went through these last through years.  God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (v. 17).  All the pain. All the heartache and sorrow.  All the garbage that should never happen, but does happen in this fallen world, all of it taken away by the heavenly Father who stoops down to dry His children’s tears.  All that is wrong is made right again.  Because Jesus took all the wrong into Himself and nailed it in His flesh to the cross.  And so now all of this is made right because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. 
            That’s what God has done about it.  He sent His Son Jesus to save us, including Deadre, from our sins and from death.  And now Deadre is taken care of.  She’s safe.  She’s alive.  God wipes away her tears.  But what is God going to do about it for us who are left?  Well, He’s not going to answer our every question “why?”  It’s okay to ask Him that question.  The Psalmists certainly do.  But there are things that God, for His own reasons, leaves a mystery for us.  I don’t know why, and neither do you, and we won’t until we are where Deadre is.  But this is what He will do.  He will comfort us by His Word.  He will send His Holy Spirit by that Word to dwell in us and soothe our grieving hearts.  He will keep us by His Spirit in that Word until the day He takes us there where Deadre has gone.  He will keep us for the Day of Resurrection, when Deadre and all of us will be raised bodily from the grave.  And in the meantime, He will gather us around His altar and feed us with the Body and Blood of Jesus for our forgiveness, life, and salvation.  And something else about Sacrament of the Altar.  As we confess, we gather there with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven.  That means Deadre.  She’s part of the company of heaven.  Deadre is there at the altar every time we gather for the Lord’s meal.  She joins us from the other side of the veil.  If you want to be near Deadre, you join her there, where the Lord feeds her and you and every member of His Church on earth and in heaven.  That’s why we call it Communion.
            So, be comforted.  Fix your eyes on Jesus Christ who died, and who is risen from the dead, your Savior.  Cry to Him.  Commend yourself to Him in your grief.  And know that what He has done for Deadre He will do for you.  He will take you to Himself in heaven.  He will wipe every tear from your eyes.  And He will raise you from the dead on the Last Day.  This is most certainly true.  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.         

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