Posts Tagged ‘Christian Funeral’

Tension

Saturday, January 16th, 2016

A Funeral Sermon for the Christian Memorial Service of Father and Son, our brothers in Christ, James Albert Love and Orgrette Lloyd Love
January 16th, 2016
Rev. Brian Henderson-Pastor
Trinity Lutheran Church,
7210 Lisbon Street, San Diego, CA
http://www.tlcsd.org

Click here for audio of this message

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” [Proverbs 14:10] (But praise His name) “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. [2 Peter 3:9]

Grace, Mercy and Peace to you dear family and friends of James and Orgrette Love.  Today, it is my privilege and honor to declare to you as pastor to both James and his son Orgrette, that His patience won the day as both father and son went to sleep in both repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.  Both had followed the way that seemed right to them, even if it was obviously wrong to everyone else, but both eventually repented of their own way and in fact, by faith they embraced and followed the narrow way of holy  baptism, of confession, contrition, repentance, and forgiveness.

Both father and son started out the same way that all of us started out, sinners in need of a Savior.

Thank God, both had parents that knew that their children’s lives, even as infants, must be turned over to God.  Both were baptized, like most of us, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Both father and son were taught of God’s love and mercy; both knew that it was only through Jesus Christ alone that they could be saved, and yet both like most of us, chose a way that seemed better, a way that seemed right to them; a way not of the Lord.  And so within their hearts, they consciously walked off of the narrow way of Christ, and embraced a different way; the way of the world.

Can you feel the tension?  If you can, then you are looking at their lives from the perspective of God.  You know, you can only have that perspective if you yourself are already resting within God’s grace through Jesus Christ.  You can only have that perspective if you’ve been given a more excellent kind of love that can come only from God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ.  For you see, this kind of tension or un-comfortableness is only possible when you can understand the hurt God feels when one of His own walks away from Him.  This is why preachers like myself can boldly declare to sinners, all sinners that it is never too late to return to your God, to embrace the gifts that the Son of God, Jesus Christ freely and gladly gives to sinners, all sinners; even you.

You see, our God is patient; He does not desire the death or eternal punishment of any sinner.  Now, perhaps there are some, maybe even some here this morning, who may not understand how this could be true for James or Orgrette.  Perhaps they have caused pain or turmoil that some may feel was never atoned for or made right; maybe you feel that their sin can never be made right.  But God knows, and God waits.  He knows what we could never know, and He waits for opportunities and circumstances in life that we could never foresee.  God waits because God loves each of us sinners; He loves us and He does not wish for us to die apart from Him.

Both the father James and Orgrette the son knew of God’s love and mercy.  They both knew that there was another Father who would show His love to sinners, any sinners, all sinners, through another Son, His Son Jesus Christ.  You see, both sinners, father and son, came to know of the love of The Father, through the love and sacrifice of The Son.  And both would have me tell each of you this morning that this very same love of God is for you as well, if you will only see a need for it.  Both would have me tell you, that upon their death-beds, each repented of their sins all sins, and both of them were heartily sorry for any hurt they may have brought to God and you.

So which way are you following today?

I know that you are here, within the tent of the Lord; but are you only visiting or are you living within it?  Do you want to flourish within the love of the Father and find both forgiveness and new life through the grace of the Son Jesus Christ, or are you determined to follow your own way; a way that God and not the preacher declares leads to death?  Are you uncomfortable with the question, because you have always considered yourself a Christian?  But let me ask you another question, “Is it possible that your un-comfortableness is due to what God calls backsliding; walking away from God’s way?

This morning, God calls us to do now, what James and Orgette also did; He asks us to consider our ways and think of every step in life we have taken.  And after you consider those things, can you agree that you have a need for a Savior, for a Champion who can bring you back out of darkness into God’s own light.  Can you agree that you do need to turn away from the way of the world, from the way that seemed right to you, and return back to what God started for you?

Brother James Love, was a trusted and valued member of this congregation.  He is the only man in the history of both Trinity and Messiah Lutheran Church that I know of, that was granted through a unanimous vote of the members of this church, an honorary title of Elder Emeritus.  It would be an understatement to say that He was loved and cherished by us.  It is this man, who freely confessed to be a sinner as defined by sins past, but gladly confessed to be a saint through the work of Jesus Christ, who would remind me constantly of two things, and for fact, I was assured by Orgrette that his father repeated these words to him as well, and here they are…

“Pastor, ya gotta remind the people that CHRIST will come again like a thief in the night; ya gotta remind them that they need to come back to Jesus before it’s too late. They got that Atomic bomb, and they’re not afraid to use it.  If they wait to come back to Jesus it might be too late.”

I promised brother Love that I would somehow work that into every message; I would do my best to communicate the urgency of returning to Jesus, or coming back to the church, a clear and trusted message.  And this morning, once again I am making good my promise.  But there was one more promise I made to Elder Love that I must tell you of; it is a promise that rests on his conviction that members of Messiah Lutheran Church would never be forgotten nor forsaken by Trinity.

Elder Love felt that the reason that so many never moved from Messiah to Trinity was because of his past failures or sins to keep the church together under the same zeal that Pastor Brink used, in order to form Messiah, long ago.  So, he asked me to never give up on his children and all of the other children that were now themselves adults, parents, and grandparents.  He requested that they remain members of Trinity in perpetuity; that is a promise I made and still intend to keep.  This dear friends is a picture of the repentant heart of Brother/Elder James Love.  And because of this promise, I beseech you in the name of Jesus Christ to be reconciled to God; come home to Christ’s church.  He and we, are here for you, and we love you; we always will.

Your God, Jesus Christ is here at Trinity in the very same way He was with you at Messiah.  He has not given up on you; He still saves a seat for you at His Table, where each Sunday, we become part of His Holy Communion, where we eat and drink His forgiveness of sins through Christ’s body and blood, in, with, and under the bread and the wine, just as you were taught long ago at Messiah Lutheran Church.

As I close this special funeral message, I can assure you that both James and Orgerette were able to see the Father, through Holy Scripture and the body and blood of Jesus Christ.  You dear saints, each of you have through the years also come to know the Son, and because you know the Son, you also know the Father and His forgiving love.

I pray that you will believe that Jesus is One in and with the Father and that the Father is here in Christ’s body, His church, even here at little Trinity Lutheran Church.  I have now in Christ’s Word shown you both the Father’s righteousness and His mercy, His grace and His love.  Will you be reconciled; will you come home?  I pray that you will, and I ask this in Jesus name… AMEN!

A TRADITION THAT CONTINUES TODAY!

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

A Christian Funeral
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Rev. Brian T. Henderson, Pastor Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA
Click here for audio of this message

A Song of Ascents. Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! 2 O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! 3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? 4 But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. 5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; 6 my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. 7 O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. 8 And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

Grace, Mercy and Peace to you, from God our Father and our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Long ago, a family tradition was started in a small Wisconsin town called Wild Rose, but the one who helped start it has left us; the tradition was helping the Sorenson family find peace and confidence in God’s Word, specifically with the familiar John 3:16 passage: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.”  That tradition continued on to other towns with names like Wisconsin Rapids, and Steven’s Pointe.  Oh it was a marvelous tradition of demonstrating exuberant love for God, family, church, and neighbor—the very same love that continues on through all of you who remain here still centered in God’s Word and the forgiving love of Jesus Christ.  A love, which the Sorenson children learned as their mother demonstrated it in a self-giving way; much like the description of the “Proverbs Woman” that we heard described in our Old Testament Lesson.  Yes it is quite a tradition, but the Christian woman, the loving mother who helped start that tradition has left us.   

God’s peace to you, children of Jeanette Louise Sorenson, to you Judy and Dale.  And God’s peace to you Patricia Sorenson, loving and devoted Sister-in-law.

God’s peace to all of you who are part of Jeanette’s Trinity family.  God’s peace to all the rest of you who are Jeanette’s friends, and that peace comes to all of us through the Word of the Lord.  If you, God, kept records on wrongdoings, who would stand a chance?  As it turns out, forgiveness is your habit, and that’s why you’re worshiped.” (Psalm 130:3-4 NLT)

Thank God for that! Because if God kept a record of our wrong doings, if He counted our sins, if He judged our hearts, who would stand a chance? No one would!  We would all be doomed. We cannot stand against the holy and perfect Law of God, because all of us have sinned and fallen short. No one has obeyed his conscience. But there is forgiveness through Jesus Christ. There is reconciliation to the Father, a cleansing of souls in grace, a bestowal of mercy through the death and resurrection of the Son.  Death has been put to the death. The devil has been trounced and Heaven is open, because there is forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

And so it is that Jeanette and so many others, who have gone before her can say that whatever mistakes they may have made, whatever weaknesses they may have struggled with, whatever they may have been guilty of, they have now found peace and grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  You see, it is only with our Lord that any of us—no all of us can finally find God’s undeserved kindness and love. Thank God for that! For without that, there would be no hope for any of us.

This forgiveness, won and paid for by Jesus, is complete for all of us who believe in Him. It is valid, true and its real and Jeanette knew this to be so beyond any doubt, and God wants us to know and believe in this as well.  God’s Word assures us that no matter what sins may have entrapped us in this life, eventually there will be peace and forgiveness because of what Jesus did for everyone. 

You can take great comfort today knowing that Jeanette was rescued by God’s work of forgiveness in a font much like this one, in a little church called Immanuel Lutheran Church of Grand Rapids, Wisconsin.  In 1922, when she was just an infant, Jeanette Louise Sorenson was put to death in the waters of Holy Baptism, and from those Holy waters, through the power of His Word, God raised up a new Jeanette; a person that would forever be loved and who could love Him and all of you in return.

While it is true that Jeanette was a woman loved by God and changed by His grace through Jesus Christ, she would not want you to think that she was some kind of angelic presence.  You see, like the rest of us here today, she also struggled with putting to death her old sinful nature, but it is also true that  she never forgot just what God had done for her at that font in that little church back in 1922.  How do I know this?  Because she told me so many times!  You see I am her pastor, and it was my privilege to minister to her as she courageously fought her battle with brain cancer.  Each day that I would visit her, we would always celebrate some sort of divine service.  And in each meeting, before we heard the Word of God, before we prayed or celebrated Holy Communion, we would enter together into confessions before God.    

At first, before her illness began to really debilitate her, she would recite the confession by memory.  You know it, don’t you?  “O almighty God, merciful Father, I, a poor, miserable sinner, confess unto You all my sins and iniquities with which I have ever offended You and justly deserved Your temporal and eternal punishment.”  But after a couple weeks, as the disease began to advance, it became harder for her to remember things that earlier came so naturally from her lips.  So to compensate, I used the question and answer form of our confession, and it was in these moments that Jeanette Louise Sorenson began to truly teach me just what a strong and steadfast faith and tradition she really passed down to her children.  “Jeanette, do you confess to almighty God that you are a poor, miserable sinner?”  “Well sure.  We better all admit that or we’re in big trouble.”  “Do you confess to our merciful Father that you have sinned against Him in thought, word, and deed?”  “Oh my, yes!”  “Do you believe that our Lord Jesus Christ died for you and shed His blood for you on the cross for the forgiveness of all your sins?”  “I should say so!  Can you believe it?  Isn’t that a wonderful gift!  That’s just what I’ve always taught my children!”  At this point, I would start to fight a little chuckle that was bubbling up, because I wasn’t quite use to a running dialogue during confession, but she tolerated my hesitation as I found my place in rite and continued.  “Do you believe that our Lord Jesus Christ died for you and shed His blood for you on the cross for the forgiveness of all your sins?”  “Oh sure”, she would say.  “What a mess we’ve all made of our lives.  We all have.”  “Yes Jeanette,” I would reply, “all of us have”.  “Well that’s what I always taught my children!”  “OK sister, do you pray God, for the sake of the holy, innocent, bitter sufferings and death of His beloved Son, to be gracious to you?”  “Oh my, that is exactly what I pray for every day.”  “Finally sister, do you believe that my forgiveness is God’s forgiveness?”  “Well of course!”  “Then let it be done for you as you believe. In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  “Amen.  Can you believe it?  Just like that.  Isn’t God’s love something pastor?”  Yes sister, it sure is!”  “Honestly” she replied, “I don’t know how some people can even live without that kind of good news!”

That was Jeanette; a faith so simple yet so strong; a faith so childlike and yet so mature.  What a wonderful question she poses to us this morning.  “Honestly, how can anyone even live without believing in that kind of good news?”  Dear friends, on this side of glory we all live in the midst of temptation and sorrow. Like King David before us, we all must learn to live with our past, but also like King David we must learn to look to the future and proclaim, “As it turns out (O Lord), forgiveness is your habit, and that’s why you’re worshiped.” We need God’s forgiveness, his undeserved kindness every day, every hour, and every minute. And without fail, God is always ready to give it. His forgiveness is constant and unchanging. He gives us all that we need for this faith. He calls us to hear His Word and receive His Holy Supper right here in this very church, and churches throughout this World, so that like Jeanette, we too may come to know His peace. 

Long ago, a tradition was started in the ancient church, through the work of God the Son alone.  And the one who started that tradition still lives with us and reigns as almighty God today; and that tradition was to announce and provide God’s peace to all of you who believe in Him.  To all of you who have come to mourn the loss of Jeanette Louise Sorenson, –your Mother, your Sister,  and your Friend: God the Father’s peace be upon you to enlighten your heart to His Word of truth about eternal life for His children–even for His beloved Jeanette. Christ’s gracious peace shine upon you to bring the light of everlasting gladness to break up the gloom of your sadness over the peace that Jeanette has now received from her Savior. The Holy Spirit of God dwell within you, that you may know the peace that He brings to you on this day and for all of your days–and even forevermore.   In Jesus’ Name. Amen.