Friday, March 10, 2017

David Jaeschke Funeral (March 10th, 2017)

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

Text: Romans 8:28
Theme: The Goodness of God

Dear family, friends, and loved ones of David, his children Melissa, Karina, Carlene, Lauren, Grant, Shaun, and especially you; Judy,

“We know that in all things God works for the good of those love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”1 This is a statement of pure faith. Yes, we have circumstantial, and incidental, and anecdotal evidence of God’s blessings. We might even say tangible indications. We experience those blessings every day. But, rock solid empirical proof that God is always working good through the most dangerous or difficult, or depressing circumstances, no, if that were the case we would already be in heaven. We would already be relieved from the constraints of sin and abiding in the unveiled presence of the Holy Trinity. That, in fact, is the situation for David Jaeschke; but not for us. And that’s precisely why we are here. If we truly grasped what we are missing we could be excused for being more than a little jealous of David. David is in the company of saints and angel; and us, well, we’re in the company of us! We’re still under the influence of sin. But do not despair, the angels are here as well as “there”, as is Jesus, the Spirit, and the Father.

Grief is never something to pass over lightly. It involves an honest grappling with the will of God. He decides when He will call His children to Himself and we may be left pondering: Why this person? In the way? At this time? Stunned by grief Job was still able to say, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD."2 Today we acknowledge that the Lord has taken away from us. But we also rejoice in what the Lord has given. Firstly, He has given David eternal rest. But that He also gave David as a gift to us for these many years.

Anyone who knew David at all knew he was serious about his faith. There was nothing artificial or pretentious about his Christian life. He was sincere and gentle. He was a man of few words but he was never absent from the hearing of God’s word or receiving the sacrament. David was an avid proponent and generous supporter of disseminating the Scriptures. He believed everyone should have access to the Bible. He cherished the sanctity of life. The unborn are especially vulnerable and David had a heart for their well-being. He wanted all people to participate in the life of Christ for eternity.

It is perseverance and humility that make otherwise unremarkable people remarkable; faithfulness in daily vocation, steady reliability. David was one of those people. He didn’t intend to set the world on fire or turn it upside down. He didn’t devise any grand schemes. But he influenced the lives of many people for the better. He was a pillar of the church and an icon of stability in the community. He was a faithful husband, a dedicated father and grandfather, and always carried in his demeanor a true humility that showed concern for others.

But if David got even an inkling that we may be extolling his virtues too highly he would be very displeased. He knew all the credit went to God. David was a sinner, just like the rest of us, and he understood what that meant. He had no leg up on anyone when it comes to gaining God’s favour. No one works their way into heaven. No one charms their way. No one forces their way in. No one successfully negotiates with God. Jesus Christ is the gate of the sheep. He is the door. He is the way, and the truth, and the life. All are under the wrath and condemnation of God from conception. Only one sacrifice could appease the divine wrath. Mortality must be faced by us all and only divine truth can carry us through.

Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in Himself.”3 He says, “In My Father’s house are many rooms…I am going there to prepare a place for you…I will come back and take you to be with Me.”4 Again, He says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though He dies.”5 Christ died and rose again for David. He died and rose again for you.

Consideration of death is also an opportunity to reflect on the big picture. Why are we all here? What does it all mean? How much can one expect to accomplish in a lifetime? What difference can a single person make? Can lives be changed? Can the course of history be altered? Can reputations be built and legacies established? Certainly, in life joys are shared; sorrows too. Failures are lamented. Successes are celebrated. But the Scriptures remind us, “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.”6 We can be robbed of vitality in an instant. Life is a gift that we never have control of. It is in the hands of the Maker. We are gifted each breath, each heartbeat. We are spared from accident and disease only by His grace. Should He withdraw His hand the world would collapse in an instant.

And yet, God is a God of grace who constantly renews life. David Jaeschke was already walking in newness of life; even in the midst of His illness. David was already born again. David was baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus, the new Adam. David was already a citizen of heaven. In Christ the present and the future are absorbed into an eternal reality. David has crossed that threshold. David is at peace. He has been released from the burden of sin. His conscience is at rest. He awaits the glorious resurrection of the body.

David only found out he had cancer late in the game. Some would reflect on that as a tragedy. That perspective must be acknowledged. But it is also a reminder that life is precious and fragile, something we easily take for granted every day. Every day, as the sun breaks across the horizon, it is already “late in the game” for each of us. But in Christ, what seems like the end is just the beginning. Martin Luther once said, “It is an outstanding gift of the Holy Spirit to believe that when God sends evil, He is still gracious and merciful.”7 David Jaeschke had this outstanding gift. He believed that in all things God works for the good. His trust has not been misplaced. Judy, when you think of David, think of that gift.

For David life, has come full circle. He was baptized at Bookpurnong and that is where His remains will be put to rest. But his soul is already in the presence of the triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; the saints and the angels. David is at peace. His faith has been rewarded. He was promised a heavenly inheritance in his baptism and that inheritance he has now received. He has the crown of life. In the last moments, David opened his eyes. It was a rare occurrence in his final days. He opened his eyes wide open. He was not looking at Judy but through her. He was probably seeing the magnificence of angels and the Lord Jesus Himself. He now experiences goodness that we can’t even imagine. Amen.

+ In nomine Jesu +

Christian Burial of David Jaeschke
10 March 2017
Reverend Darrin L. Kohrt

1 Romans 8:28
2 Job 1:21
3 John 5:26
4 John 14:2-3
5 John 11:25
6 Psalm 103:15-16
7 Luther’s Works 12, p.374

Sunday, March 5, 2017

First Sunday In Lent (A) 2017

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

Text: Matthew 4:7
Theme: Humility Not Force

Dear friends of the Suffering Servant,

Jesus is not an interloper. He’s not some alien supernatural lifeform who swept down to redeem the human race. Jesus Christ is the new Adam, fully God and fully human. His act of salvation was organic with His nature as the incarnate Son of God. So, on this first Sunday in Lent, in which we find Jesus meeting the challenge of Satan in the wilderness, we’re firstly taken back to the fall of Adam and Eve into sin. Where Adam succumbed, Jesus withstood. The significance is more than historical or rhetorical. Christ is our Saviour and Lord; He is also our Brother.

Again, we journey through the season of Lent. Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden, but Jesus wrested the flaming sword from the cherubim1 and opened again the entrance to Paradise. All events that are observed annually become associated with their own rituals. Rituals lend order to observance. But traditions and customs must continually be reviewed lest they end up communicating and teaching exactly the opposite of their intent. The Christian church has for a long time had a custom of foregoing hallelujahs during Lent. Christ is risen; He is living. Yet, the living Christ is also the crucified Christ. Apart from this sacrifice we have no access to the Father. The omission of hallelujahs soberly reminds us of this redemptive act. Yet, the idea is not to restrict joy but to underpin it with a deeper foundation and fertilise it so that it may bloom all the more gloriously when we arrive at Easter.

We don’t have to search too hard for a starting point for our Lenten journey. We are sinners called to repentance. Humility is an inescapable aspect of mortality. We are not divine, limitless creatures. Christians either learn humility or they suffer it. Usually it's a combination. There are no exceptions. A believer cannot go through life without learning humility or being humbled. If we don't understand that humility is the persona of Christ which reflects the very nature of God then we have grossly misunderstood the Scriptures. An unbeliever, of course, can go through life from start to finish in arrogance, being successful, and, perhaps, even well-liked. But the great humbling will then come when it's too late. When the heavens are rent and the Son of Man descends in glory the hour of repentance will be past. The harvest will be reaped, the tares will be separated from the wheat, and the leopard will not change its spots. The ego of the arrogant will be crushed and suffer eternal consequences for its rebellion.

Meanwhile, we traverse through the same landscape of humanity that all generations have. Quoting from Moses St. Paul referred to His age as a "crooked and twisted generation"2. Our is no different. The task of assessing and responding to the challenges of the culture is something we are never exempt from. It can be taxing. Yet it is not a cause for despair but an opportunity for witness. Support for one another is critical, whether in our daily vocations or in our fellowship as members of the body of Christ. Most importantly, we remember God has already promised to resolve we could never accomplish. Therefore, we say with the apostle, “I will come back (or do this or that) if it is God’s will.”3

What a blessing to know that God has revealed His will for our eternal salvation. The will of Christ is the will of the Father. And the will of the Son and of the Father is the economy of the Spirit. There is no dissidence within the Trinity, no disagreement. It was the Father's will to redeem sinners and it was the Son's will to be perfectly obedient to the Father. The Scripture says, “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”4

The journey of Lent, then, is a microcosm of the Christian pilgrimage. Something happens in the humbling experiences of life, in the traumas and emergencies which are beyond your control; God changes you. He moulds you a little more into the shape of that petition that says, "Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." "On earth" means in your heart, your soul, your life. It is His intention for your will to be indistinguishable from His will. No cries of unfair, no veiled secret motives, no shows of false humility, no pretence that we are trying to love our neighbour as ourselves. Rather, the actual struggle of baptismal living. Rather, the confession that apart from Christ we possess nothing of value.

Jesus was tested in the wilderness immediately after His baptism. His baptism, along with all His redemptive work, is what gives our baptisms power. Baptism is no false economy. It's not an investment with diminishing returns. That is, it doesn't claim to put us in God's good graces initially but then fail to carry us through the temptations of life. It doesn't promise what it can't deliver. You are baptized for life and for eternity. It's a simple sacrament of water and word, but it is God's word, His promise. His word silences Satan. His word reconciles sinners. His word breathes new life. His word is the first word, the last word, the eternal word.

In your baptismal identification with Christ you are both cleansed from sin and also removed from the grip of its power. The saving work of Jesus involves both crucifying the sin within the sinner and removing the sinner from the dominion of darkness. The addict must undergo "detox", something which is suffered passively, and be shielded from external temptation. This is the power of baptism. It is also the value of Holy Communion. Where God meets us in this blessing Satan has no power.

The Scripture tells us that Christ did not consider equality with a God something to be grasped. Yet, He already possessed this equality, being the Word which existed from eternity, God of God, Light of Light, of one substance with the Father. Still, in His role as substitute, as sacrifice for the sins of humanity, He did not demand honour. He bore shame. He did not avoid persecution, rejection, slander, and abuse. He did not flee from public humiliation or challenge His unjust trial and condemnation. He spoke only when the truth needed to be confessed. He was silent when the deafening noise of evil raged chaotically…until in the darkness it was hushed. Until…it was finished. The guilt and shame that would condemn you and I to an eternity of hellish torture was laid to rest. Christ breathed His last and the Father whom He had never left received His sacrifice. Life was reborn, renewed, immortalised. Believers in Christ participate in that immortality. This stunning truth is the sum and substance of Christian hope. No death, tears, grieving or pain. No separation. No broken lives. This complete restoration is the destination of Lent. Easter guarantees that it will come to pass. Amen.

+ In nomine Jesu +

First Sunday in Lent
5 March, 2017
Reverend Darrin L. Kohrt

1 See Genesis 3:24
2 See Philippians 2:16
3 Acts 18:21
4 Philippians 2:8