Cruce Tectum

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

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Saturday, October 03, 2015

In Memoriam +Audrey Jean Pfauth+

In Memoriam +Audrey Jean Pfauth+

October 3, 2015
Text: Matt. 11:25-30

            It may sound strange at first, but on September 25, 2015, our dear sister Audrey received the best birthday present anyone could ever get.  With one nurse and any number of angels in attendance, Audrey met her Savior, Jesus Christ, face to face.  And He took her home to Himself in heaven.  Audrey Jean Pfauth was born into this world on September 25, 1933.  She was born into heaven to await the resurrection with Jesus on September 25, 2015.  This year, more so than any other, September 25th was a day for rejoicing.  And that is true, not just for Audrey, but for the holy angels and all the company of heaven.  And it is true for you, even in the midst of your tears.  Because for Audrey, the race has been won.  The strife is over, the battle done.  She has died, and yet she lives.  She lives with Christ.  She is with Christ, who is risen from the dead.  And she knows that the Day is coming, coming soon, when the risen Christ will raise her from the dead.  Yes, beloved, let there be no misunderstanding: This body will rise from the dead!  Cancer free, free of sadness, free of pain, risen in the image of the risen Lord Jesus.  And as for her tears, well, to God they are precious, and He is even now wiping them from her eyes (Rev. 7:17).
            Audrey was tired.  She was weary and burdened.  It had been a year since she had let her beloved husband, Hank, go to his rest in Jesus.  And as she told some of us, there were a number of deaths and anniversaries that were troubling her soul in recent days.  Then, of course, there was the cancer she didn’t even know she had, making her tired physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  The faithful Christian is not immune from the griefs of this earthly life.  They are not a punishment.  They are simply the reality of life in this sin-fallen world.  And our gracious God uses them, precious, holy crosses that they are, to drive us to Himself for comfort and relief, for help in every time of need.  The point was not lost on Audrey.  She believed what our Lord says to us in the Holy Gospel: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28; ESV).  She came to Jesus here at His house, with His people, here in the holy Church, where Jesus Himself, week after week, day after day, spoke to her the consoling, forgiving, life-giving Word of the Gospel, and fed her with His Body and Blood.
            I wonder if this is the verse Jesus spoke to her as she leapt into His arms on September 25th.  “Audrey, come to me.  It’s time to rest.  It’s time to rejoice.”  This is one of the last verses I spoke to her in the room at hospice.  And then we sang the beautiful hymn we sang again just moments ago, the bedtime prayer which, if I understood her right, is one of the first her mother taught her when she was a little girl: “Now the light has gone away; Father, listen while I pray, Asking Thee to watch and keep And to send me quiet sleep” (LSB 887:1).  What a beautiful prayer to sing in your last days.  And even though she wasn’t speaking much toward the end, she did sing the first verse with me, from memory, with tears in her eyes.  And then there is the third verse: “Let my near and dear ones be Always near and dear to Thee; O bring me and all I love To Thy happy home above.”  She was ready, and she prayed that the dear Lord Jesus would come and take her to Himself.  But also (and never forget this), she prayed for you in her last hours, that you would know Jesus, believe in Him, and so be reunited with her and with Hank and with the Lord in heaven.
            Audrey has her rest in Jesus.  But she wants you to know that you can rest in Him even now.  He speaks these words to you today: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  You are weary, too, aren’t you?  Burdened with grief (today especially), burdened with sadness in a world that doesn’t work the way it should, burdened with your sins and the weakness of your flesh, with your own aches and pains, injuries and disease.  Perhaps things are not going well at work, or at home, with your children, with your marriage.  Perhaps you struggle with depression, or addiction, or loneliness, or anxiety.  There is war in the world.  There is war in your soul.  You are broken.  It’s okay to admit it.  We’re all in the same boat.  We’re all broken.  This doesn’t mean God is against you.  This doesn’t mean He does not love you.  Remember all that our beloved Audrey suffered in this life.  Remember that in all these things that weary and burden us, Christ Jesus holds out His pierced hands and calls to us: “Come to me… Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” 
            Audrey, and Jesus, would have you do what she did: Come here to Jesus at His house, with His people, and hear Jesus Himself speak His consoling, forgiving, life-giving Word of Gospel.  Be fed by the Bread of Life, the Bread of Heaven, the Savior who was crucified for your sins and who is now risen from the dead.  He is risen, and He will raise you, with Audrey and Hank and all people, and give eternal life to you and all believers in Christ.  There are any number of ways we seek rest in this life, whether it be a weekend at the Lake, or a round of golf, or a bottle of booze.  The truth is, none of them work.  Not really, not permanently.  Do you need rest?  Rest like Audrey needed rest?  The only rest that is real and true and permanent, rest for body and soul, rest that is enduring and eternal, is the rest Jesus gives.  Because Jesus’ rest makes you who are broken, whole again.  Whole spiritually now.  Whole and complete, in your body, on that Day when Christ comes again in glory.

            God put His Name on Audrey in Holy Baptism, the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  He marked her with the holy cross, as one redeemed by Christ the Crucified.  Which is to say, He set her apart to be made whole eternally on the Day of Resurrection.  Are you baptized into Christ?  This Promise is for you.  Cling to it with rejoicing, even in the midst of your tears.  Are you not baptized?  Let’s talk about getting baptized and coming to Christ for rest and for life.  For this Promise is for you, too.  This rest is for you.  Jesus speaks to you, and Audrey wants you to clean out your ears and listen up.  Jesus says to you: “Come to me.  Lay down your burdens and your cares.  Lay down your sins.  I take them into myself and nail them to the cross.  Come to me.  Hear my Word.  Trust my Promise.  I will be your rest.  Because when you are with me, you are home.”  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.          

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