Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled – Funeral Rosemary Smith

10461418_763830950954_7114599978794604792_nJohn 14:1-6

To the saints of God at Bethlehem Lutheran, dear people of Carson City, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

It matters not that this day has been looming for many years, it matters not that Rosemary was 91 years, nor does it really matter that has spent the last 4 years in assisted living (a place she really treasured and came to call home), and finally it doesn’t matter that for the last 6 years she has gone without treatment on her various cancers. It still hurts, there is still loss, and there is suffering.

“Let not your hearts be troubled.”

“Let not your hearts be troubled?!” We are here to mourn the loss of a pillar of this congregation, a woman who dedicated much of the last few decades to this church. Not only that, she has dedicated just as much time in volunteering at the hospital, participating in other community events such as the Leisure Club, and was just nearly as faithful to the Republican Women’s group. A woman who was near and dear to many in this community.

“Let not your hearts be troubled.”

Easier said than done though. I miss this woman dearly and I know many of you do too. It’s amazing that our dear Rosemary, who was widowed longer than I’ve been alive, who had no children, is so dearly loved and missed. It’s a testament to the work of God in her throughout her life. Ironically, a life full of troubles yet troubles that never reached her heart.

Only a few of you know the real struggle that it was living in the depression era. At it’s recovery many looked forward to moving on in their life, getting married, having a family. You don’t imagine ovarian cancer at 19 and an operation that renders one barren, again Rosemary’s troubles. By God’s grace and love she was united in marriage still, able to enjoy many years together. God’s grace continued through job losses and those everyday struggles to keep her faithful. Be it through her churches in Wisconsin or here at Bethlehem, Rosemary was always kept in true faith and trust who kept her heart from being troubled.

Many of us would be troubled to be told our bodies are broken to the point that death in on the horizon, likely within a few months. Yet, that was Rosemary’s news at the beginning of 2010. Most of you have heard this and know this, but it was that news which prompted her to call my home in Indiana that summer over a month before we moved here as she recalled to me many details of her life. It struck me that she emphasized her faith, her baptism, and her regular reception of the Lord’s Supper. It took some questioning as to why all the details to gather that her cancer had left her at death’s door as she boldly proclaimed that hers would be the first funeral conducted for this new pastor.

Much of her accomplishments, much her volunteering, much of her servant attitude was not shared by her but by many of you later on. For her heart was not troubled. Not because she felt she had done enough, not because she felt she earned life with God. Quite the opposite. Rosemary more than anyone knew her sin, her faults. As I spoke with her in person last, she mentioned that with her lack of family around, and with her missing her closest non-blood family Royce, perhaps I was the last one to know many of those things. It’s why she was here all those years, to confess her sin, to hear the Words of Christ, to receive His body and blood. Her heart was never troubled for it rested with Jesus.

Dear Christians, in the face of many troubles in life, business life, personal life, family life, congregational life, even as has happened this week in this town in community life, let not your hearts be troubled. This life is a precious gift of God, a gift that has been tarnished by sin. Yet, by God’s grace it still endures. On a September day in Indiana this precious child was born, a few weeks later however she died. Buried in Christ’s death, her sinful flesh was drowned, the Old Adam in her buried so that the new creation may be born in resurrection. That’s the child who bears God’s name, that the child called by name by our Lord, that’s the Rosemary we know who now rests from her labors.

“Let not your hearts be troubled.”

Quite honestly, Rosemary had been anticipating this day. She was ready as she called a young pastor in Indiana, she was ready as she made the difficult decision to leave her home for assisted living, she was ready as she slowed her volunteer work the last few years. She was ready as some of you aided in bringing her here the last couple years, each and every week as she received the Lord’s Supper and sometimes out loud wondered when she too could depart in peace.

“Let not your hearts be troubled.”

For as the Lord spoke these words He was just a few hours away from His death. In these hours of darkness, Christ is stricken, smitten, afflicted, dying on the tree. He had done nothing wrong, deserved no such death, and willingly went so that our hearts may not be troubled. He takes upon Himself all grief and pain when His soul makes an offering for guilt. (Is 53:10). He cries out of the work of redemption for the sin of the world, “It is finished.” The Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world. He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities… and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Because God so loved the world, because God so loves you and by His wounds we are healed.

Now death is not what it seems. It seems so final, so hopeless, so irreversible. The suffering and death and darkness of Good Friday trumpet this: the curse of death for sin has fully been poured out on the cross. When the darkness of death draws near, earthly hopes will leave us and all will be futile, but this death of our Lord provides sure and solid confidence and comfort, for “it is finished.” He tasted death and burial for you.

The water which flows from His side was poured over Rosemary and has been poured over you in Holy Baptism. Where you are buried with Him in His death (Rom. 6). The blood which flowed from His side is given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.

Our redemption was finished when He bowed His head in brutal, bloody death and handed over the Spirit. God and man are reconciled in that act! He made peace with God for us through the blood of His cross! “ Yet, in the midst of it all the simple fact is this, “Christ is risen”.

Just like none of the powers of the world could keep Jesus from fulfilling His promise to rise again, so nothing can keep Him from being faithful to His promises to you. In Holy Baptism Jesus buried you in His death and raises you to new life. Dear saints of God, your sins are forgiven! Rosemary now rests and awaits the resurrection because death has lost its sting. Death does not have the last word. Death has been swallowed up in victory (I Cor. 15:54). Let the beauty of that first Easter morning sink down deep. It was early, just after sunrise! Entering a chamber of death the women were greeted with a message of life, Christ is risen.

You know, Rosemary often complained about funerals. Not because everyone mourns or that it is sad. She often mentioned that what she didn’t like about funerals was that it was all looking back. She was right. We shouldn’t look back. At least not in mourning. We may certainly look back and see the example of faith and life in Christ. But that’s a looking back that makes us look forward, a looking back that points to the altar and upon the cross. Rejoice dear saints, for Christ is risen, so to shall Rosemary rise, and so to shall you. “Let not your hearts be troubled.”

In the name of the Father and of + the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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