Saturday, January 2, 2016

Funeral for Hedley Milich January 2nd 2016

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

Text: John 5:24
Theme: Death To Life

Dear family, friends, and loved ones of Hedley; Vicki, Steven, and especially you, Dorothy,

God speaks to us today words of hope and words of life. And His words have authority. The God who spoke the universe into existence out nothing and redeemed the human race through the Word-become-flesh, is the same God who welcomes believers into His presence with incontestable words. This he has done for Hedley Milich. Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life…he has crossed over from death to life.”1 The truth of these words is vital beyond all others.

It’s certainly not our choice to be forced to pause and reflect on this occasion. But death doesn’t give us choices. It only issues ultimatums. The ultimatums it issues are not manageable with the resources humans have at their disposal. Death is the point at which human impotence is fully exposed. It’s not part of the natural cycle of the universe. It’s the consequence of the human race becoming estranged from God. Death is the final temporal consequence of the curse of sin. The Holy Spirit could hardly issue a clearer call to repentance than to cause us to reflect clearly on mortality. If we don’t believe we are at God’s mercy how will we face our own death? We’ve been conditioned to think that age, frailty, or suffering makes death more timely; more acceptable. But death is only timely when we understand it as the moment God choses to relieve the believer from the burden of sin.

The untimeliness of sin’s curse was rectified by God in His own time. The Scripture says, “When the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law.”2 In the face of a reality that is far beyond the control of all human powers, only the assurances of the Almighty have meaning. The most well-prepared and eloquently delivered human words are but hollow sounds in comparison with Him who holds the very power of life and death in His hands. Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.”3 He says, “Do not be afraid. I am the first and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”4

On the cross Jesus said, “It is finished.”5 Those were life-giving words for all who believe. Those were words that finalized God’s eternal, divine love. Heady knew Christ’s words. He knew His love. Like all who pass through the portal to heaven, Hedley was a sinner who was saved by grace. In his baptism he was deemed a saint. He has now become the beneficiary of his inheritance. He has become a participant with the heavenly hosts, saints and angels, in ceaseless enthrallment with the triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Heaven will involve an intimacy, and rapport with others that is simply not possible in this life. And that probably suits Hedley just fine. Hedley had a keen and lively interest in people. He liked to be up to speed with their interests, circumstances, and the challenges and joys of their lives. It was a quality he especially modeled with those he was closest to. He was dedicated to his family; a faithful husband, devoted father, and passionate grandfather. The time he spent with them was marked with genuine enjoyment.

Hedley spent his vocational life working the land. He knew what a hard day’s work was and he understood that farming depends on the providence of God. His faith was part and parcel with his perspective on life. Hedley was a dedicated and active servant in God’s kingdom. He was a regular attender in God’s house and attentive to the Word. I remember distinctly when I took Divine Services at Riverview that though Hedley’s eyesight was failing he was listening intently. Not infrequently he had a relevant query or comment. He meditated on God’s promises and they bore fruit in his life.

Hedley has been freed from all the consequences of sin. At the resurrection his sight will be fully restored and he will behold the face of God. Believers in the past have called this the ‘beatific vision’. It is the direct, unmediated communication of God with the individual person. But for us who remain under the burdens of our mortality we struggle along in faith. God communicates with us through His word and sacraments. Dorothy, you can never be closer to Hedley- not at the cemetery, not in your fondest or most vivid memories- then you will be when you take Holy Communion. For in that sacred meal you communicate with the risen Christ in whose presence Hedley now dwells. May the Holy Spirit temper your grief with that promise! May the Good Shepherd guide you through the dark valleys until you meet him again in glory!

You may have noticed during the reading of the obituary that the number seven featured prominently in Hedley and Dorothy’s life. Seven years at Nangari. Seven years at Yinkannie. Seven years at Bugle Hut. Almost seven years at Pyap West too. Seven is a very biblical number. It is a number of completeness. It is the number for the Sabbath; the day of rest. Hedley now rests from his labours. He enjoys an eternal Sabbath for he has entered into the rest that Christ provides for all the faithful. He has crossed over from death to life. Thanks be to God! In Christ’s most holy name, amen.

+ In nomine Jesu +

Christian Burial of Hedley Milich
2 January, 2016
Reverend Darrin L. Kohrt

1 John 5:24 2 Galatians 4:4-5 3 John 11:25-26 4 Revelation 1:17-18
5 John 19:30

Monday, December 28, 2015

First Sunday After Christmas (B) 2015

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

Text: Luke 2:50
Theme: No Longer Misunderstood

Dear friends in Christ Jesus,

From the beginning Jesus was misunderstood. It may seem strange to suggest that considering we’re in the midst of celebrating the most widely acknowledged event in the history of the world. Yet, our familiarity with Christmas should not blind us to the struggle to reach the hardened human heart, as John says, “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”1 But the Spirit has, and it’s through His eyes that we see.

For some, one of the great travesties of modern times is to be misunderstood. They have no case for complaint compared to our Lord. Jesus was twelve when He identified Himself as God’s Son. After returning from refuge in Egypt the family of Jesus settled down in Nazareth. It was where Jesus spent most of His time as a child. About His childhood we know almost nothing. Nothing significant is recorded in the Scriptures for us until He reaches the age of twelve. Today we find Him in Jerusalem for the annual celebration of the Jewish Passover. Twelve seems to have been the age of maturity in regards to religious things in Jewish culture.

On their homeward journey Mary and Joseph realized Jesus was not in their company. Returning, they found Him in the temple courts engaging with the religious teachers. In response to the rebuke of His mother, Jesus poses questions that relate to His identity, “‘Why were you searching for Me? He asked. ‘Didn’t you know that I had to be in My Father’s house?’”2 Mary and Joseph could not yet understand what Jesus meant? We should be slow to criticize them. It’s a theme that would be repeated throughout Jesus life. The demons recognized Christ’s divinity before His own followers. It’s little wonder, since His claims were more than human hearts could comprehend. It would take a cross, and empty tomb, and the power of the Holy Spirit before the scales would fall from peoples’ eyes.

Later in His life Jess would be rejected in His hometown of Nazareth. The day had not yet come for Him to be understood. Sin still blinds people today to His truth and live. The political correctness of our day demands that people be accepted for who they. Often this is nothing less than a license for engaging in any activity that takes one’s fancy. It’s a way to exempt responsibility and encourage negligence. In spiritual terms it often means condoning that which is clearly against God’s will. It means the sanctioning of sin.

None of us is immune to this influence. It pulls at us, constantly testing our resolve. Satan poses his questions softly and subtly. Are you really the sinner God’s law makes you out to be? Do you really need to fear the threat of condemnation? Are you really lacking any spiritual righteousness or moral integrity of your own? When we begin to yield to these temptations the glorious purpose of the gospel immediately starts to become diminished. Soon we have no essential need for a Saviour to be born for us. His nativity becomes a romantic story.

Dear friends, the history of the Christian church is characterized by the constant struggle to clearly and correctly proclaim God’s truth in a way that people believe themselves to be sinners and are accordingly opened to the true grace of the Saviour. This grace of Christmas, this mercy of Easter is the true cause of our joy. Our Lutheran forefathers expressed it in this way, “Without any merit or worthiness on our part, and without any preceding, present, or subsequent works, by sheer grace, solely through the merit of the total obedience, the bitter passion, the death, and the resurrection of Christ, our Lord, whose obedience is reckoned to us as righteousness. The Holy Spirit offers theses treasures to us in the promise of the Gospel, and faith is the only means whereby we can apprehend, accept, and apply them to ourselves, and make them our own. Faith is a gift of God whereby we rightly learn to know Christ as our redeemer…”3

Let these words sink deeply into your hearts, my friends: you can never be misunderstood by God. Not only does He understand you, He loves you. And He loves you not because He understands you, but in spite of what He understands about you. He understands what hopeless, hapless, miserable sinners we are. And yet He does not pull away. Nor does He send aid from a distance in a cold, aloof manner. Because His heart aches His body was broken. Because His zeal could not be repressed His blood was spilled- all for you.

You may have to adjust to being misunderstood by many, perhaps even those closest to you. But never by the child of the manger who became the victim of the cross. The breadth of human experience has been embrace by Him. Though He had no sin of His own He became the greatest of sinners. And He sends you out as one redeemed sinner to serve others. The Scripture says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”4

For those gifted with the eyes of faith the Redeemer is no longer misunderstood. Joseph and Mary queried His obedience at the age of twelve. He was about His Father’s business. Soon He would become obedient to the point of death; even death on the cross. In the crucifixion God is most clearly understood. Still, it’s but a glimpse. Paul writes, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”5

Today is the day on the church calendar for the commemoration of St. John. John was one of Jesus’ closest disciples and author of the gospel and three epistles that bear his name. He was exiled to the island of Patmos where he wrote the Book of Revelation. It is through John that the Holy Spirit gives the fullest explanation of the incarnation of Jesus. “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”6

The angels have not ceased their singing. So let us join their chorus throughout this Christmastide. Good tidings of great joy are extended to all the sons of Adam and all the daughters of Eve. Sinners, one and all, we have salvation in the One who was born for. Let us cherish the words of the prophets, meditate on the words of the apostles, and imitate the faithful who have confessed His name even to the point of death. A joy awaits us that far surpasses the most intense celebrations we can experience in this mortal flesh. When we gaze upon the face of God we will understand what it means to be fully released from the bondage of sin. Amen.

+ In nomine Jesu +

First Sunday After Christmas
27 December, 2015
Reverend Darrin L. Kohrt

1 John 1:5
2 Luke 2:49
4 Colossians 3:12-14
5 1 Corinthians 13:12
6 John 1:14