Funeral for +Hertha Larsen+

27 May

LSB Icon_040The text I have chosen for Hertha’s funeral comes from Romans 8:31-39.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Here ends our text.

George, Ann, Diann, Don, and Dan, “if God is for us, who can be against us?” That is the question that Paul asks to the Romans. The question is not meant for the Romans to give a response, for the answer is simple – no one! No one can be against us if God is for us. God is for us all the way in Jesus Christ, who died, rose, ascended and intercedes for us. No one can accuse us before God, who has chosen us to be His own and made us His own through faith in Jesus Christ.

Hertha knew that. Throughout the years, Hertha had her eyes on one thing – Jesus Christ. Her eyes were focused on what He did for her all those many years ago in her baptism. There, in simple water, when the pastor said those fateful words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” everything changed for Hertha.

She received a gift like no other gift. She received a name and that name was “child of God.” In that simple act that might not look like anything special, something special did indeed take place. In that moment, her life forever changed, because her sins were forgiven. Every sin that she had committed, every sin she was committing at that moment, and every sin she would ever commit in her life were forgiven. This was something that she didn’t deserve and it was something she didn’t do, but it was something done for her. It was done for her and to her by the great love of God her heavenly Father throughout her life.

Her faith was something that Hertha held near and dear to her all Hertha. Before going into Pioneer Manor three years ago, Hertha would be in church nearly every Sunday. She and George would sit in the same pew week after week. On occasion, she would ask certain members of her family why they weren’t in church that Sunday. They would ask her what the sermon was about since they missed it. She couldn’t recall the sermon, but she knew who was in church and who wasn’t. Even if she couldn’t recall what the sermon was about, she still received God’s goods delivered to her each and every week through the Word as it came through the liturgy and the Sacrament of Christ’s body and blood, given and shed for the forgiveness of her sins.

Throughout Hertha’s life, there were two things that were important to her: her family and her faith. The words from our text today are indeed fitting words for Hertha. She exemplified the words of Paul: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” No matter how good Hertha’s life was or how bad it was, Hertha’s faith never wavered. She knew that while she was a sinner, she deserved nothing but death and damnation because of those sins. But she also knew that because of the saving work of Jesus Christ for her and for you on the cross, that all of her sins were forgiven. She knew that one day, and that day came for her Monday, that she would stand before God, not with a sick and diseased body, but with a body that has been made perfect and holy by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.

Over these last years as Hertha’s health began to worsen, unfortunately her mind began to worsen also. She would forget the name of her children, forget where she was, and sometimes even forget who she was. But when her pastors would go and visit her, when they would read Scripture with her, when they would pray with her, everything seemed to come back. Even in her last days, when I told her that I was going to pray with her, she would fold her hands, ready to pray. When we were finished praying, she would attempt to mouth or say, “amen,” even when she said little or nothing at all.

Who shall bring a charge against Hertha? Who shall bring a charge against you? It is God who justifies. St. Paul won’t let you forget your salvation. God has not spared His own Son for you, but has condemned Him on the cross for your sins. Because He has condemned His own Son for you, He is not going to carry out that sentence again on you. For Jesus’ sake, He declares you holy, innocent, righteous… forgiven. Christ has died for all, bearing all of their sins to the cross. Hertha knew that and she took great joy in that fact. She instilled that knowledge of God’s salvation to you, her children. If there was nothing else that she ever taught you, the love that God has for you was what she wanted you to know. That is what God desires for everyone to know, for those of you gathered here this morning, for those outside of this church, and for all peoples. As St. John records, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” That’s what God wants you to know and that is exactly what Hertha knew.

She had great peace in the knowledge that God sent His one and only Son to live and die for her, for her children, for her family and for her friends. She knew that nothing would keep her from the love that God has for her, not even death, for she knew that death in this life was not the end, but merely the last time that she would be with those she loved. Her eyes were focused on heaven, because there, she knew that she would be with her heavenly Father forever.

For you, her family, the days ahead will be difficult as your begin a life without a wife, a mother, a sister, and a grandmother. But as the psalmist says, Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” You will weep now, but your joy has come, knowing that Hertha is now in heaven, awaiting that day when those who fall asleep in the faith will be reunited with her. What a glorious day that will be; for Hertha, for you, and for all believers. In the name of Jesus, amen.

1 Comment

Posted by on May 27, 2011 in Funeral, Sermons


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One response to “Funeral for +Hertha Larsen+

  1. Rev. Iovine

    May 27, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Very nice sermon.

    When reading the Psalm 30 verse at the end, I remembered the question about the word “tarry.” “Pastor, what’s a tarry?” “Oh, it means endures, sticks around, lags behind.” “So why don’t they just say weeping will stick around for a night?” “Hey, when I finalized my New York Brooklyn translation of the bible, then we’ll have something other than tarry.”

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