Funeral of Sue Hagedorn (Psalm 27)

Photo by Gaia Armellin on Unsplash

Audio: iTunes | Spotify | Download

The LORD is my Light and my Salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the Stronghold of my Life; of whom shall I be afraid?

᛭ INI ᛭

Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

(5. Oops!: We have expectations for Psalm 27:1, and today doesn’t fit!)

When you hear those words of Psalm 27:1, what comes to mind? There’s a definite mental picture for us. It creates some expectations for us. The LORD is my Light and my Salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the Stronghold of my Life; of whom shall I be afraid? When we hear these words, it creates a positive mental image. When it comes to our expectations of Psalm 27:1, well, today, as well as the events of the past few months that lead us today, well, none of it meets our expectations!

Psalm 27:1 in our mind seems to anticipate good things, not bad. It seems to indicate that there will be victory and not defeat. It seems to suggest to us, or we think it suggests, healing and not sickness, joy and not sadness, life and not death. Certainly not a funeral for someone like Sue—your wife (Larry), your mom (Katina, Karissa, Kayne), your grandma, your sister (Kathy, Steve, Pat, Jean, Ann), your daughter (Anita), your cousin, sister-in-law, or however you happen to know and love Sue.

(4. Ugh!: We doubt that Jesus is Life and Salvation at all.)

So, when Psalm 27:1 crashes headlong into today, and when our expectations are a wreck of apparent contradictions between Psalm 27 and today, there’s all sorts of things that begin to arise in our hearts. There’s grief and sadness. There’s disbelief. There’s worry. There’s maybe some frustration and anger.

These feelings are of course natural to our human experience, and grief isn’t necessarily sinful. Christ Himself grieved at the graveside of His friend, Lazarus. But often, at the death of someone we love, all these human emotions we experience have a common source: doubt. We doubt Psalm 27:1. We doubt that Jesus is Life and Salvation at all.

We prayed for life and salvation for Sue. We prayed for there to be light in the darkness, healing in the midst of sickness. And it appears that the Lord isn’t Life and Salvation, that He didn’t hear nor answer that prayer.

It’s not just what happened last week, either. It’s been a long road! We begin to wonder. What sort of Life and Salvation is the Lord, anyway? What sort of stronghold of life does He really turn out to be? The darkness of doubt creeps into the darkness surrounding death and the grave.

(3. Aha!: The Light only shines in the darkness.)

But Psalm 27:1 and the entire Psalm really does anticipate times of darkness. It anticipates days like today. It expects death and the gave. But it’s saying that light will break in at the darkest point. Just like lighthouses give their guidance and light during the night and the darkness of storms. So also, the Light of the Lord’s Life and Salvation shines brightest not in the sunshine of good times but in the times of darkness.

That is how the Lord does things, as John also says at the beginning of his Gospel: In [Christ] was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

From Psalm 27, and from all our other readings today, which we’ll consider briefly in just a bit, we can see clearly that

JESUS REALLY DOES CAUSE HIS LIFE AND SALVATION TO SHINE.

(2. Whee!: JESUS REALLY DOES CAUSE HIS LIFE AND SALVATION TO SHINE.)

That’s what Jesus did at Bethlehem when He was born. The Light of His birth shines forth with comfort and peace. For “through the deep Judean night rang out the song, ‘Good will to men!’ Sung by,” the angels, “the firstborn sons of light.” (LSB 810) The Christ child, in a feed trough, shines. “Son of God, love’s pure light Radiant beams from Thy holy face With the dawn of redeeming grace.” (LSB 363) At Bethlehem, born to Mary, JESUS CAUSED HIS LIFE AND SALVATION TO SHINE.

But the Lord wasn’t done shining, of course. He accomplished our Life and Salvation, shining forth from the darkness of Calvary’s hill. “I lay down My life for the sheep,” Jesus says. In His arrest, trial, and crucifixion the words of Psalm 27 were fulfilled: “false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence.” But He also rose from the dead. “I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!”

At Calvary and with an empty tomb three days later, JESUS CAUSED HIS LIFE AND SALVATION TO SHINE for Sue and for you. His bodily resurrection and His empty tomb are the light that brighten every Christian grave with the hope that “because He lives we shall live also.” Because Jesus came back to life we have the certainty that “with Jesus God the Father will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep.”

But the Lord has more light to shine. He CAUSED HIS LIFE AND SALVATION TO SHINE directly on Sue. That was January 3, 1954. There His eternal life and salvation were given directly to her in the water and Word of Holy Baptism. The Paschal Candle shines as a reminder of Christ’s resurrection and empty tomb and the promise that that awaits Sue because that’s what’s given in Holy Baptism.

In Holy Baptism the Lord’s Word from Matthew 18 is fulfilled. There the Lord says, “Let the little children come to Me.” (Words gilded in German along the sides of that Baptismal Font.) There the newness of Life in Christ was given, and it was a new life that shone forth in Sue’s life, where she took her cue, how she echoed, how she reflected the Light and Life of the Lord who loves the little children.

(1. Yeah!: His Life and Salvation shall shine forever, as Psalm 27 promises.)

JESUS REALLY DOES CAUSE HIS LIFE AND SALVATION TO SHINE.

And His Life and Salvation shall shine forever, as Psalm 27 promises throughout. It is a promise of the Lord being the Stronghold of Life. That doesn’t mean that He protects life from death, but it is the promise that Life will have victory over death, that even death itself cannot even keep you or Sue from Him. “I give them eternal life and they shall never perish. No one can snatch them from My hand,” Jesus says.

“When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall.” Sickness, death, and grave will stumble and fall on the Last Day. The Lord will cast death itself into hell. And the promise of eternal life with Christ, the promise of Job 19, will be fulfilled for Sue and all of us who trust Him: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God.”

“Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.” In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 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.

“One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.” “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

“My head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me…I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!” The Lord will make good on these Words for you, for Sue. That on the Last Day we will look up and see our Lord forever. Death so far in the review mirror that “the former things shall not come to mind.” “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! This has nothing to do with you, or the strength of your faith. Strength, courage all come for your resurrected Lord. You can have courage and strength to meet the days ahead because of who the Lord is for you. He is who He is for Sue, for us all. He’s the JESUS who CAUSES HIS LIFE AND SALVATION TO SHINE. For

The LORD is my Light and my Salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the Stronghold of my Life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

᛭ INI ᛭

Total:      1582
Outline:    88
Final:      1494

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close