Cruce Tectum

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

Location: Moscow, Idaho

Saturday, February 01, 2014

In Memoriam +Margaret Elaine Carroll+

In Memoriam +Margaret Elaine Carroll+

Feb. 1, 2014
Text: John 11:17-27, 38-44

            “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die’” (John 11:25-26; ESV).  Like an oasis of cool water in the desert is our Lord’s promise here to us in the face of death.  All we have to sustain us now, to strengthen us to go on living with joy, to comfort us in our grief, is the Word of Christ, this sure promise of the Savior.  There is a life beyond this frail earthly existence, a life that is eternal and abundant.  It is life in Another, life in Christ.  Whoever believes in Christ, trusts in Him for the forgiveness of sins and salvation from death and condemnation, though he die, yet shall he live.  In fact, he shall never die.  And what was and is true for Lazarus and for Martha and Mary is also true for Peg.  She believed in Christ.  She trusted in Christ.  And as a result, though she has died, she lives.  In fact, she never really died.  Really, she didn’t.  Not there in the hospital anyway.  You see, she got her death over with as a baby at the font, when her Lord Jesus washed her with water and His Word, at St. John Lutheran Church in Allegan.  There the death of Christ became her death.  She was joined to Christ in His crucifixion.  There her old Adam, her sinful flesh was drowned.  And there Christ’s new resurrection life was given to her as a gift.  It was and is with Peg as we confessed with St. Paul a few moments ago: “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4).  Our Lord Jesus gave Peg eternal life already as a baby in Holy Baptism, a life hidden to be sure under weakness and sin and cancer and death, but a life nonetheless.  A life still hidden to us, but now made manifest to Peg as she sees the Lord Jesus for herself in heaven.  What we saw in the hospital on January 12th was only the temporary expiration of her body, the separation of her body and her soul.  But she is not dead.  She lives.  Because she is in Christ who is risen and lives and reigns and who will raise Peg from the dead, body and soul reunited, on the Last Day.
            You do not know this from experience.  All that is available to our five senses is the evidence that a death has occurred.  That Peg has not died, but lives, well, this is beyond our senses.  It is beyond our reason.  It is even beyond our emotion.  We may feel in our hearts that Peg lives, but how can you trust in that?  For most of us here today, the dominant feeling may be sadness.  And that’s okay.  Death is sad.  Jesus wept at the tomb of His friend Lazarus, even knowing full well what He was about to do.  Strange things, emotions.  They change.  They are limited.  They can deceive.  They can be manipulated.  You just can’t trust them.  But you can trust Jesus.  The only way we know this to be true, that Peg is not dead, but lives, is Jesus’ Promise: “I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”  And then Jesus puts His money, or better, His blood, where His mouth is.  He dies, on the cross, for Peg, for you, for the forgiveness of your sins.  He dies, but He is not dead.  Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.  And He lives.  And Peg’s life, and your life, these are now hidden in Him, who is Himself the resurrection and the life.
            We don’t deal very well as a culture with death, do we?  We do our best to deny it, delay it, prevent it.  We don’t think about it if we can help it, but there it is, a slap in the face of life when a loved one dies or when we have to face our own mortality.  When the inevitable does occur, we don’t want to face the reality.  We dress it up in euphemisms and fairy tale explanations, because in the face of death, we just can’t bring ourselves to speak plainly.  In the end, death is our greatest fear.  But here in the Church we face death head on.  We don’t dress it up.  We speak plainly.  We give it our careful thought and attention, not because we’re morbid, but because in Christ, we can, because we know the whole story, because we know that speaking of death, we speak of a deeper truth.  Death was never meant to be.  Humanity was created for life, life forever with God.  But our first parents fell into sin.  And through sin came death.  St. Paul writes all about it in Romans 5.  You can read about it for yourself.  As children of Adam and Eve, this sin infects us all.  And we’re not speaking here just about the bad things we do or the good things we don’t do.  Those are just the symptoms of a deeper problem.  We’re speaking here of a corruption deep within our nature, a corruption that separates us from God, and finally from life.  Beloved, we’re all dying.  I know you don’t want to hear that.  Do you see what I mean?  You don’t want to speak plainly about death.  But denying it doesn’t change the reality.  When you are faced with a reality this severe, you must face it head on, and the treatment for it must be radical.  Furthermore, you must trust yourself entirely into the capable and pierced hands of your Great Physician, Jesus Christ.  He has done something about your death.  He has done something about Peg’s death.  He died.  And now He is risen.  And He has a radical treatment that will save your life.  It is His death and resurrection for you.  That is the medicine that takes away your sin and gives you eternal life.  It restores you to God as His own child.  It is given to you here in Christ’s holy Church by means of His Word preached, the washing of Holy Baptism, and the Supper of His Body and Blood.  It is the medicine that was given to Peg in her Baptism as a baby at St. John in Allegan, and which she received ever after from her gracious Lord Jesus as He spoke His Word of life into her and nourished her at His altar.  So though she has died, she lives.  And in fact, she shall never die, for baptized into Christ and into His death and resurrection, she has eternal life. 

            And now here are some other things that she has as she lives before God in heaven and awaits the resurrection.  We heard about these things in our second reading (Rev. 7:9-17).  She is before the throne of God and serves Him day and night in His temple.  She is sheltered by His presence.  She hungers no more, neither thirsts anymore.  The sun does not strike her nor any scorching heat.  The Lamb in the midst of the throne, Jesus Himself, her Good Shepherd, leads her to springs of living water.  And God wipes away every tear from her eyes.  And then, before Peg even realizes that any time has passed, the Lord Jesus will speak to her.  He will cry out with a loud voice, just as He did at the tomb of Lazarus.  And He will say, “Peg, come out.”  And Peg will come out.  She will come out of her grave.  Her body will be good as new, better than new, her very body but made perfect, a resurrection body, fashioned after Jesus’ resurrection body.  And so will all people be raised, and all believers in Christ, all who have life in Him by faith, will live eternally in their resurrection bodies with Christ.  They will always be with the Lord.  It sounds too wonderful to be true, doesn’t it?  But don’t take my word for it.  Take Jesus’ Word for it.  For Jesus does not lie.  And this is what He says: “I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”  Jesus died.  Jesus lives.  Jesus shall never die again.  He is the resurrection and the life.  And because of that Peg lives, and Peg shall never die.  Jesus will raise her from the dead.  This reality is now hidden with Christ in God.  But you will see it for yourself on that Day.  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.          


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