Friday, June 14, 2013

Christian Burial of Colin Lloyd 14 June 2013

+ In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti + Amen.

Text: John 11:25
Theme: Life In Christ

Dear family, friends, and loved ones of Colin, Cindy, Tanya, Cory, and especially you, Janet,

Words are sometimes hollow substitutes for expressions that require something more substantial. A sympathetic embrace can render words insignificant. Grieving is a holistic enterprise. It engages us; mind, body, soul and spirit. It occupies our thoughts, seizes our emotions, and even affects us physically. It is proper that it should be this way because when we grieve we confront ultimate things. Death is not a fictitious problem. It is the very epitome of reality beyond our control.

Yet there are appropriate words to be said because there is One who says them with authority. Christ was no stranger to death. But death could not hold Him and it is His words that matter. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”1 He said, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”2 Colin is now embraced with divine love. Thanks be to God!

Colin was a man of few words. But that didn’t mean he had little to say. He had his ways to speak clearly. Wisdom from the Book of Proverbs fit Colin well. “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.”3 “A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered.”4 Colin certainly used words with restraint and he was even-tempered.

Colin was a devoted husband and father. He was loved by his family and loved them immensely. He was respected in the community. He was loyal to his church. He was found regularly in God’s house hearing His word, taking communion and receiving forgiveness. All these things he did with integrity still knowing he required God’s mercy.

Colin was saved by grace just like every sinner. He was the beneficiary of the boundless mercy of God shown in Jesus Christ. He was baptized into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit into whose presence he has now been received. Colin no longer suffers silently. His burdens have been lifted. He cares and concerns have dissolved. He has received the reward of faith. He is at peace.

But we continue on with our journey here, temporary as it is. Mortality is no laughing matter. There is no opting out of the discussion. Each day is a gift, not an entitlement. The widely held opinion that we should all die at a ripe old age is merely a human construct. To fall short of this gives no one the right to cry unfair. No mortal can stand on their own justified before the Almighty. Only Christ’s sacrifice on the cross counts. There the price for sin is paid. Only His resurrection offers true and eternal life. Christians should not live life seeking to avoid the topic of death as long as possible. Rather, we cherish every day of life we are granted on this journey to a much greater existence.

Colin was never one to have a fuss made over him. He wasn’t really one for fanfare. He loved the quiet of the river and the opportunity for reflection that it offered. Words weren’t really required. But Colin did have to tolerate some fanfare and some important words when he was received into his heavenly home; as the Scripture says, “Come, you who are blessed by My Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”5

These were Christ’s words to Colin. He was blessed richly in His life and He was a rich blessing to others. Jan, your comfort is in the words of the Apostle Paul who said, “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”6 These are His words of promise. Amen.

+ In nomine Jesu +

Christian Burial for Colin David Lloyd
14 June 2013
Reverend Darrin L. Kohrt

1 John 11:25
2 Revelation 1:17-18
3 Proverbs 10:19
4 Proverbs 17:27
5 Matthew 25:34
6 Romans 8:37-39

Monday, June 10, 2013

Third Sunday After Pentecost (C) 2013

+ In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti + Amen.

Text: Luke 7:13
Theme: “He Had Compassion”

Dear friends in Christ Jesus,

Hope has a broad horizon. It sees past the tumult, the chaos and the clamor of this ephemeral existence to the place where mortality intersects with eternity. Hope germinates in the treasures of Christ’s conquests. All other optimism is not really biblical hope, but mere humanistic deception. Just as peace flows from the knowledge that Christ was crucified for sinners, so too, hope exists only in the Christ that lives.

Today a widow without hope met the living Christ. The Scripture communicates the situation candidly. “As He drew near the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’”1

It was an unexpected and gripping scene. The little Greek word translated as ‘behold’ isn’t always found in English versions. It draws attention to something remarkable that is about to be witnessed. The grief of this widow was clearly palpable. Jesus is not remiss in His response. Immediately He bids her to cease her weeping. Imagine having the boldness to tell a mother overcome by sorrow not to cry. Yet Jesus’ boldness is driven by more than compassion. His life-changing intervention is about to ensue. “Young man, I say to you, ‘arise.’”2

Every attempt to deny or “explain away” the miraculous facets of Christianity is at the same time an attempt to relieve Christ of His divine power. He is the God who raises the dead. This truth can never sit comfortably with human reason. Rationalists may claim that Christians suspend clear logic and reason when they believe in the miraculous. Yet believers can say confidently that God Himself is the creator of human intellect, human reason, and, for that matter, everything that exists. But this is not some trump card that simply ends the argument.

There can be no compatibility between a pure materialism that leaves everything to chance (think here of the dogmatism of Darwinian evolution) and the purposeful intention of a compassionate God who sent His Son for the sake of the world. The apostle Paul warns, “What fellowship can light have with darkness?”3 Is it more foolish to believe that God created humans and redeems them through Christ; or that this point in humanity’s existence has been reached through a chaotic, improbable, impersonal, and valueless force which we now seek to invest with meaning?

At stake here is not some abstract theory that concerns only philosophers, scientists, and theologians. We are talking here of different worldviews that comprise our understanding of existence, the place of humanity, and the very reality of God Himself. If you think you can go your merry way happily unaffected by this clash of creeds- stay tuned!

Dear friends, life is more tenuous than we often are willing to admit. And we do not seek provisional solace to get us through the day. We seek truth; truth grounded in the accomplished work of Him who was crucified and now intercedes before the Father’s throne.
Yes, we seek daily bread, but we look for much more. Jesus deals with the ultimate cause of terror. St Paul calls death the “last enemy” 4. Dying is a process we are all subject to from the time of birth. But we have the Word and Bread of Life (Jesus). He has already thrown us a life-line in His word and sacraments. Dying is a process of change but life in Christ is a splendid, unchanging existence.

We are already heirs to this incorruptible life. Yet how do we carry on now in this journey often beset with frailty and hardship. Christ places us in the cradle of the church. The church is a hospital for the treatment of sinners. It treats sinners afflicted and emaciated by the disease and decay of sin. You are one such sinner, and so am I. The church draws her strength and life from the promise of complete and irreversible healing. She boldly confesses the resurrection. And she does so in the face of formidable opposition.

Satan is adept at running concurrently two contrasting programs aimed to achieve the same goal. The one is a program of starvation. He seeks a famine of God’s word. He hopes to prevent every contact, every hearing, every study, every prayer, every opportunity, every communication between the sinner and the word of Christ. And when this cannot be averted he looks to poison the hearing of the word and make it ineffective. The other is a program of gluttony. He promotes a veritable feast, a binge of activities, addictions, and obsessions that fully occupy the capacity, energy, and interests of the sinner. Completely satiated and even bloated on the philosophies, ideals, and indulgences of the world he hopes people will have no appetite for God’s word. His methods are as ancient as the first question he posed to Eve; but they are always being tweaked. Apart from God’s forgiveness we wither and die.

Christ’s promise is not a politician’s pledge. Your time in the church is a life-long convalescence. But you will be healed. It may be in rehabilitation. It may be through surgical procedure. It may be through extensive medical treatment. It may be a life-long process. It may involve learning to live with an incurable disease. But you will be healed. It will certainly come to pass through Christ’s work of resurrection. The Bible says that He is the one, “who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.”5

Meanwhile, what confidence do we have that He will continue to attend to us? Consider these words of Luther, “Until the last Day, the Holy Spirit remains with the holy community of Christendom, through which He heals us and which He uses to proclaim and propagate His Word, whereby He initiates and increases sanctification so that we grow daily and become strong in faith and in its fruits, which He creates.”6 Yes, even in the midst of dying we become strong and flourish. He enlists us in the cause of His name. What opportunities do you have to contribute to the work of His kingdom? You don’t have to go overseas to foreign tongues and foreign lands. Your vocations, personal and professional, provide ample opportunity to witness to the redeeming love of God in Christ.

What we witness here informs, orders, and inspires our witness to the world. We are His baptized; the cherished bride of the Bridegroom. These are not human constructs but divine accomplishments. The gift of the Holy Spirit in baptism does not happen magically. The Spirit attends the word of God and works life in the soul that receives that word. Charli Isabelle is not the subject of a hollow religious ritual. She is the beneficiary of sacred promises. As such she has more than the blessing of this congregation or the church at large. She is the object of divine love. A love expressed in sacrifice. A love tested by the cross. A love victorious over the grave. Hear the Scripture’s promise, “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour.”7 Hope has a broad horizon; exactly as broad as the outstretched arms of the crucified Lord; as broad as the brimming light of the resurrection. Amen.

+ In nomine Jesu +

Third Sunday After Pentecost
9 June 2013
Reverend Darrin L. Kohrt

1 Luke 7:12-13
2 Luke 7:14
3 Corinthians 6:14
4 See 1 Corinthians 15:26
5 Philippians 3:21
6 Large Catechism
7 Titus 2:5-6