Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Sermon May 26-27, 2018

Title: Through Christ your salvation is secure!
Text: John 3:1-17

17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

The early church father St. Augustine was once accosted by an unbeliever who showed him his idol and said, "Here is my god; where is yours?" Augustine replied, "I cannot show you my God; not because there is no God to show but because you have no eyes to see Him."

Unknown.

In our Old Testament reading for today we read of Isaiah's Vision of the Lord.

6 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”

Our God cannot be seen apart from God’s own revealing. This Weekend we celebrate the working of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God in Trinity and Trinity in unity for the salvation of the world.

By God’s own working we know that:

Through Christ your salvation is secure!

The story of Nicodemus from the gospel of John in chapter 3 is a foundational and interesting one, in which we hear from the Lord Himself as to what the working from God is, and how He redeems His fallen creation from the sin of Adam and Eve … restoring the relationship between God and man.

Jesus begins in Chapter 2 of John’s Gospel with a description of man’s fallen condition, saying in chapter 2:25: “For He (Jesus) knew what was in man.” Meaning the brokenness and sin we all have inherited.

As Jesus begins His talk with Nicodemus who is called … “a man of the Pharisees,” Jesus says: 3 … “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

The ESV translates the Greek word ὰνωθεν (anōthen) as born again, which can also mean born anew or born from above, which conveys maybe a better understanding of this fallen state that you and I are born into and how God working through the reconciling work of the Holy Spirit, points, we who are dead in trespass and sin, to the finished work of Jesus Christ for the restoring of the relationship between God and man.

Being born in sin as stated earlier … man (each one of us) must now be reborn, born again, or born from above – born of God. The flesh, Jesus speaks of in John 3:6:

That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Is speaking of our human condition, which gives birth only to our broken sinful self through the natural means of birth, we can only be conceived in sin but through our rebirth from above, through the work of the Holy Spirit, we are born anew to a newness of life given by God and called to be His own children, As Saint Peter says, “since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” (1 Peter 1:23) This born again alludes to the Spirit’s work, in you and in me, working through the word.

Jesus explains to Nicodemus that, this rebirth from above comes from being born of water and the Spirit (Vs 5) and comes to us through the waters of Holy Baptism. God through the word connected to the water and by Christ’s command and promise, brings this rebirth to fruition. Through this water and word the Spirit works. Just as our Lord and savior, Jesus “comes from above,” so to the redeemed, His children, must be born “from above.”

We live in a broken world and it seems to get more broken all the time.

The recent shootings at schools in Florida and Texas bring into clear focus just how broken in trespass and sins we are.
How can you make sense out of this?

Well for one, a breakdown in the family leads to a breakdown in society.

We’ve been going down that road for quite a long time. No connection to the faith for many - and that is also evident in the children of believers as well -who have left the faith and active attendance in worship to find hope in society that promises no real hope.

For many around the world - just confessing Christ can bring death and martyrdom in a world that has become so very small and all too close for comfort for our own lives. Life surly seems at times as bad as it can get and you like me must feel at a loss … What can I do?

From above the Son came down and dwelt among His people. Though He was united to flesh in His incarnation, it was the sinless flesh of the God/man Jesus Christ who came down from heaven, the revelation of God and the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form. (Col 2:9)

This one who came down from heaven would be lifted up as well on the Cross … for you. Just as the serpent was lifted up in the desert by Moses as a type of the Christ and in the same way that some of the Israelite's looked to the bronze serpent on the pole in the desert and lived, so too those who look to the Son – even in the midst of persecution - lifted high on His cross and trusting in His finished work for the forgiveness of sins, by the working of the Holy Spirit, will live.

Just as God saved His people Israel in the desert by the lifting of the serpent on the pole by Moses, so to God has delivered His people from their sin, death and the power of the Devil by the atoning work of Jesus Christ at the cross.

The fullness of God, Father, Son + and Holy Spirit was fully involved in your redemption.

God in John 3:16 bring the fullness of His desire and mission to Nicodemus. That because of God’s great love, he has sent His Son to be united to human flesh … yet without sin … and to stand in the place of all humanity receiving the bloody baptism of God’s wrath at the cross, for the forgiveness of sins, so that all humanity might hear, receive and trust the Good News of the Gospel, and be saved. The “Him” to whom Jesus speaks of in the discourse with Nicodemus and the person to whom we must believe and trust, is the very Son of God Himself, Jesus Christ who became man for our sake so that we might be redeemed by Him and trust in His name.

Martin Luther died on February 18, 1546 at around 3:00 AM in the morning. His last words and actions were recorded by his dear friend Justus Jonas. Luther was asked, “Reverend father, will you die steadfast in Christ and the doctrines you have preached?” To this Luther responded affirmatively … “Yes!” Luther also quoted John 3:16 and Psalm 31:5

In his last prayer he said to God, “Yet I know as a certainty that I shall live with you eternally and that no one shall be able to pluck me out of your hands.”

http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php/2007/06/30/ten-martin-luther-myths/

This is the same question you and I will ourselves need to give answer to.

“Will you die steadfast in Christ”

And you I can answer as Luther did: “Yes!” Because we too have the same Spirit at work in us and just as the Psalmist writes in Psalm 31:5:

5 Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.

You can know for certain that you shall live with Christ eternally and that no one will be able to pluck you out of His hands.

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

Amen

Monday, May 21, 2018

Sermon May 19-20, 2018 – The Day of Pentecost

Title: The Spirit of truth bears witness to you!
Text: John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

The Second Stanza of our opening hymn for today really speaks about the gift of the Holy Spirit.

#913 O Holy Spirit, Enter In

Give to Your Word impressive power
That in our hearts from this good hour
As fire it may be glowing,
That in true Christian unity
We faithful witnesses may be
Your glory ever showing.
Hear us, cheer us
By Your teaching;
Let our preaching
And our labor
Praise You, Lord, and serve our neighbor.

Today we celebrate the sending of the Spirit which in the Book of Acts speaks of the Spirit coming as a mighty rushing wind and as tongues of fire, resting on the disciples and giving them utterance. This powerful speaking in other tongues gives the disciples the ability to be heard as Luke writes in the book of Acts:

“Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?” (Acts 2:7b-8)

And the diversity of those that hear is large.

9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” (Acts 2:9-11)

The Spirit can certainly do marvelous things to reach all people! And that is what Jesus tells the disciples in the Gospel reading for today.

26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

The Spirit of truth will tell you about Jesus.

The Spirit of truth bears witness to you!

Ill.
Christ met unbelievers where they were. He realized what many Christians today still don't seem to understand. Cultivators have to get out in the field. According to one count, the gospels record 132 contacts that Jesus had with people. Six were in the Temple, four in the synagogues and 122 were out with the people in the mainstream of life.

J.K. Johnston, Why Christians Sin, Discovery House, 1992, p. 142.

God can use us all. God will use us all.

My friend Rob makes his living teaching guitar and banjo. He is very talented and those he teaches learn well. But his mission is to tell the world about Christ and through his gift of music he gets an opportunity to tell the world about Jesus and Christ himself says that it is to your advantage that he goes away:

But if I go, I will send him [the Spirit] to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
John 16:7b-11

Ugly truth or beautiful truth?

The ugly truth is that we are born sinful and unclean and are God's enemies and rightly deserve to be cast into Hell and separated from God for ever. But the beautiful truth is that God came to stand in your place and to suffer death for you so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you might know this and by faith trust all that Jesus did for you and receive the promise of an eternity in heaven with him.

Satan has been judged at the cross. He has been defeated and it is now through the working of the Spirit that Christ’s work is made known to the world so that sin might be repented of and people come to faith in Christ.


We know that we ourselves need repentance and forgiveness, so also those who will come to faith by the Spirit’s work through the word. God’s means of word and sacrament are found here in God’s house but the word is active and goes with each one of us as we in our vocations take Christ with us in our daily lives as father’s mothers, brothers, sisters, and workers and too.

The Spirit of truth bears witness to you!

As Jesus says:

13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
God’s Spirit leads you into all truth! John16:13-15

Christ and his work is who the Helper, the Holy Spirit points to and it defines what is His work and what He works to accomplish.

Jesus sends the Helper and by His work you are His!

We have peace to with God too because of the Holy Spirit. He brings us to life from our spiritual death and give us the faith that points and holds to Christ.

And as was confessed today in the Nicene Creed:

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The Lord and giver of life,
Who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified,
Who spoke through the prophets …

The Holy Spirit is God the sanctifier or the one who makes us Holy…

Jesus sends the Helper the Holy Spirit and by His work you are His!

To be comforted at times is good,

To be helped at times is also good,

But to be forgiven and to receive the gift of faith in Christ and His work - for you - is the work of the Holy Spirit who was sent to draw people not to himself but to Christ. This is truly Good News!

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

Monday, May 14, 2018

Sermon May 12-13, 2018

Title: By his word the truth of God is yours!
Text: John 17:11b-19 Acts 1:1-11

Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me that they may be one, even as we are one.

There is a lot to consider this weekend. The ascension of our lord 40 days after Easter, the 7th Sunday/ weekend of Easter and Mothers Day; It should make for an interesting sermon.

In Acts Chapter 1:4-11 St. Luke describes the ascension of Jesus in this way:

4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Jesus desires unity around the truth. Jesus’ desire was in accord with the will of his Father.


Saying: I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost. Vs 12

Jesus’ desire is to keep and protect those whom he will leave as he returns to the Father. His desire is that they (his disciples) may be one in unity with each other just as Jesus and the Father are one … though distinct in person. Christ says that he has guarded them and that not one has been lost except for Judas - the one who went the way of destruction – so that the scriptures may be filled.

And as Christ prepared to leave them, he prays for them, that the Father would keep them in your name, in the name of the one true God, so that they would be guarded and not lost.

Christ knows that his disciples will remain in the world - just as you and I also remain in the world - and though are not of the world. We remain but also we represent the work of God in us to abide in Jesus to remain in him, to be his and to show forth his will against the power of the evil one who looks only to steal, kill and destroy.

We see division, brokenness, tension and the work of the devil in our day as well. We hear the cries for unity and truth distorted. We see death celebrated and life denied both for those just conceived and those ready to depart this life for their eternal rest.

We’ve heard the unity cries before.

All of us have differences. We all have conflicts. We have families and this too can pull us apart as we wrestle with the changes in society and civic life. Marriage has been redefined and gender has creatively been reinterpreted not for the true goal of tolerance but for a breakdown of the family as has been known and proclaimed through Biblical principles and God’s word.

Jesus says:

17 Sanctify them [or make them holy which also is to be set apart] in the truth; [he then tells us that] your word is truth.

Apart from God’s word we live in a world where God is re-made in man’s image and that is how the devil wants it. To turn what God has said upside down into that first deceptive question: “Did God really say?” It gives us all, like Adam and Eve, a high view of self and a low view of sin … which is simply, missing the mark and coming up short, on what God expects and so what do we do?

We lower the bar rather than honor God’s commands

We change the definition rather than honoring the truth. 

Your word – Jesus says - is truth.

Jesus’ desire for you and me … in this world … is that we may be sanctified [made holy and set apart] by the truth.

As Jesus returns to the Father he leaves his disciples with a promise.

8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.

Epistle 1 John 5:12

Our epistle reading follows this confirms this.

12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Unity needs to be … around the truth that Jesus Christ is the son of God.

How do we know this? How can we know this?

The word of God, it needs to be our highest authority.

At Baptism we are made God’s own child, one redeemed by Christ, who was crucified for you and me. This Jesus upon his ascension gave the promise that we would not be left alone and that the comforter, who would come at Pentecost, and would be with us to point us to the unity found in Jesus the word of God made flesh.

Dr. Scott Murray in his wonderful Memorial moment devotion reminds us that:

When the Word is lost everything is lost. Over the past twenty years, churches have begun to jettison the confession of faith in the Creeds of the church. They are no longer recited as part of church services. When this trend began the clergy, who were so eager to get rid of the public confession of the faith by the faithful, were quick to reassure the skeptical that even though they no longer said the words that they certainly still affirmed the content of the Creeds. More recently the clergy who jettisoned the recitation of the Creed are now quite aggressively rejecting the content of the Creed, including its Christological [focus on Christ] content. Once we stop saying the words, it isn't very long until we stop believing the content of them.

Dr. Scott Murray: Unloving Love Wednesday of Easter 6 13 May 2015


The truth comes to us in the word of God and is made know through the work of the Spirit who points us to the truth of Christ’s work.

Luther tells us:

"In the issue of salvation, on the other hand, when fanatics teach lies and errors under the guise of truth and make an impression on many, there love must not be exercised and error must not be approved. For what is lost here is not merely a good deed done for someone who is ungrateful, but the Word, faith, Christ, and eternal life, etc. are lost. Therefore, if you deny God in one article of faith, you have denied Him in all; for God is not divided into many articles, but He is everything in each article and He is one in all the articles of the faith."

Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians, 5.9

17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

Christ has made you his own and will keep you by his Spirit connected to him and his truth. This is his promise.

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

Monday, May 7, 2018

Sermon May 5-6, 2018 Confirmation / First Holy Communion

Title: God’s own child I gladly say it!
Text: 1 John 5:1-8

4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

Processional Hymn: #590 Baptized into Your Name Most Holy
Opening Hymn: # 864 Shepherd of Thy Tender Youth
Sermon Hymn: #594 God’s own Child, I Gladly Say It
Communion Hymn: # 602 The Gifts Christ Freely Gives
Recessional Hymn # 689 Let me be Thine Forever

Stanza 1

God’s own child, I gladly say it: I am baptized into Christ!
He, because I could not pay it, gave my full redemption price.
Do I need earth’s treasures many? I have one worth more than any
That brought me salvation free, Lasting to eternity!


God’s blessing to you as we together celebrate the Confirmation of Olivia Fisher and Brianna Squanda here at Peace. We also, as was begun last year, will celebrate the First Communion of Emma Carlson, Theo Fisher, Scott Dobson Jr., Sam Powell and Jaystin Slavic. It has been a joy to work with, teach, and mentor these children over the last year together and over the last two years for Olivia and Brianna.

Our epistle in 1 John begins:

5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God,
For all of these children this work of God began when they were baptized. They were marked by Christ as his own, having been born again and having their sins were washed away in the waters of Holy Baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The work of God in them as infants was certainly greater than their ability to speak this truth for our ears to hear at their baptism - and so as they’ve grown and have been taught what this work of God is – and they now in our presence will confirm what God did then - and continues to do in them.

Stanza 2

Sin, disturb my soul no longer: I am baptized into Christ!
I have comfort even stronger: Jesus’ cleansing sacrifice.
Should a guilty conscience seize me, since my baptism did release me
In a dear forgiving flood, sprinkling me with Jesus’ blood?


4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

Though we all are born sinful and unclean, at our baptism we received the gift of Eternal Life. That gift also came by means of another gift – the gift of faith. Through the means of grace [word and sacrament] we have received the Holy Spirit, and have overcome the world, conquering sin, death and the power of the devil through this baptismal washing uniting water and the word and Spirit. Today [Olivia, Scott, Emma and Theo] and Sunday [Brianna, Sam and Jaystin] will make this proclamation clear.

Stanza 3

Satan, hear this proclamation: I am baptized into Christ!
Drop your ugly accusation; I am not so soon enticed.
Now that to the font I’ve traveled, all your might has come unraveled,
And, against your tyranny, God, my Lord, unites with me!

5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

God has united these children to himself in a special way and now they make this clear in a public way. Confessing with their mouths that Jesus is lord and believing the God has raised him from the dead … they are saved, have been saved and will be saved!

Salvation is God’s promise and is delivered through his means. The word of terror that the devil brings has been defeated at the cross and Jesus has declared his victory to the gates of hell that sin, death and devil have been overcome by him and we who confess this faith receive all that Jesus won. This is most certainly true.

Stanza 4

Death, you cannot end my gladness: I am baptized into Christ!
When I die, I leave all sadness to inherit paradise!
Though I lie in dust and ashes faith’s assurance brightly flashes:
Baptism has the strength divine to make life immortal mine.


6 This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.

The wages of sin is death but the gift of god is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

That is how the Apostle Paul comforts his first readers of this epistle. And for we who many years later hear his same voice proclaimed through the Gospel promise by the Holy Spirit believe and have the same gift of comfort and peace now and always through the assurance of simple water and word connected, received and revealed. What a blessed comfort!

Stanza 5

There is nothing worth comparing to this lifelong comfort sure!
Open-eyed my grave is staring: Even there I’ll sleep secure.
Though my flesh awaits its raising, still my soul continues praising:
I am baptized into Christ; I’m a child of paradise!

7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.

Martin Luther writes in his Lecturing on the First Epistle of St. John:

Thus the water cannot be proclaimed without the blood. Nor is the blood of Christ given without the water of Baptism. Besides, the blood and the water do not come to us except at the insistence of the Holy Spirit, who is in the Word. Therefore those three cannot be separated, but the three do one thing …
For these three constantly accompany one another, and through the word a daily immersion and a perpetual baptism takes place, a perpetual shedding of the blood of Christ and of the Holy Spirit, a continual cleansing of sins.

AE 30 pg 316 Lutheran Study Bible pg. 2180

These children and all God’s children who have been baptized have and receive God’s forgiveness and have salvation in his name. The blood of Christ paid the price overcame sin death and the devil and opened the gates of heaven for we who believe. The waters of Holy Baptism united with the word of God washes away are sin and by the Holy Spirit we believe and have the assurance of the promise now and into eternity.

As these Confirmands and those receiving their First Communion demonstrate today and for we who look back many years on what God has done in us we can all proclaim:

God’s own child, I gladly say it: I am baptized into Christ!

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

Funeral Sermon for Veretta Cheal May 5, 2018

Title: At home with Jesus forever!
Text: John 14:3 (English Standard Version)

3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

Dear friends, family and loved ones of our beloved Veretta.

I’m Pastor Russ Tkac, Pastor of Peace and I've been blessed to be Veretta’s pastor for the last 5 years and joyfully be able to celebrate her life with you, her dear family and friends.

Prior to becoming her pastor I had only heard about her.

In the Gospel text for today we read: (Jesus says)

1 "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. (John 14:1-3)

So what had I heard? Well she was a charter member of this church and had a long history here. She was a shut in and not regularly able to come to church. she was a name and a story. After ordination and installation here at Peace I received this folder. It was the shut-in and home visitation list folder. This is my latest and updated list.

Number 1 on the list is Veretta Cheal. This hand written list was Pastor Merrell’s. He was here before computers … maybe before electricity! He was here and served so long and especially the home bound members of Peace like Veretta. On his list Veretta is number 5, not because she was of less important but numbers 1-4 have gone to be with the Lord and Veretta has now joined them.

When it was my turn to make the visits from Peace I was a little concerned. Veretta had been burdened with depression for many years.

Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28 come to mind: 

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
I couldn’t think of anyone more heavy laden than Veretta. How could I help? What could I do? On bad days it was heard. My typical call:

Pastor: Hello Veretta
Veretta: Oahhhh…
Pastor: I was hoping to stop by and see you.
Veretta: Oahhh….
Pastor: Would Tuesday work for you?
Veretta: No …. I have … an appointment.
Pastor: Great! I’m seeing Kathy on Wednesday and I’ll stop by and see you at the same time. That would be alright wouldn’t it?
Veretta: Oahhh … I guess so.
Pastor: When I get there, if you don’t feel up to a visit you can let me know and I’ll leave. I never left.

It took all of my 32 years of sales skills to out maneuver her. She was good. But as a salesman I knew how to answer objections … and once I earn her trust … this burdened, depressed, shut-in, charter member of Peace became a joy and a blessing in my life.

In John’s gospel:

Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" 6Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:5-6)

Veretta knew the way and she knew Jesus as her Lord.

When the depression came she closed up like a shell but when she had relief from her illness she had joy to spare.

One of my last visits with her she had been burdened and as I thought about what to do I said to myself, I wonder when Veretta last sang some hymns? So I took my guitar and some song sheets and in Veretta’s apartment we sang I am Jesus little Lamb, Amazing Grace, Christ is our Cornerstone, I know that my Redeemer lives and a few others. We had communion and our prayers and went I was leaving I say, “Now Veretta you call me when you’re feeling better.”

Well a day or two later as I was sitting at home and thinking I should call her my phone rang. I looked at it and it was from Veretta. She had a wonderful way on the phone. 

I answered: “Hello Veretta its pastor.”

She answered: “Hi! … It’s Veretta. I’m feeling better. Debbie said I should call you.”

We had many calls. Sometimes it was for prayer and other times to rejoice. At times to simply ask for comfort and peace or to return thanks for his great blessings in our lives.

Veretta enjoyed growing up on a farm and always desired to get back up north whenever she could. She had a deep love for her husband Jim meeting at the bowling alley after moving down here for work at Consumers Power. Her apartment was … pretty … with quality furniture that showed Veretta’s joy for order and care. Each piece had special meaning to her and was decorated with family mementoes and joyful history.

Veretta was a focus in my sermon for Good Shepherd Sunday a few weeks ago as I shared her introducing me to her neighbor John Stade. Veretta wanted to make sure that John received the Lord’s care just like she did. It is that caring love that Veretta had for you her dear family and friends and also for her savior Jesus and all that he did for her in this life.

On one of my last visits before she entered the Lord’s presence I read her these psalm verses.

They can bring comfort and peace for you and me as we all grieve.

Psalm 4:8 (ESV)
8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

Psalm 27:1 (ESV)
27 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?

Psalm 31:5 (ESV)
5 Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.

Psalm 73:26 (ESV)
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Veretta prayed the Lord’s Prayer - which were her last words – and though is was hard and a bit labored, she did it as well as best she could. Debbie told me it was the last words she spoke.
Heaven is now Veretta’s home.

You too have this home waiting for you. The blessed Good News that Jesus died for your sins is the wonderful Gospel message you can trust.

Jesus has forgiven your sin and by the power of the Holy Spirit, in you, has given you the faith to believe in His saving work and a place prepared for you, forgiven in Christ and forever with our Lord and savior Jesus, and that’s a Heaven and an eternity you can trust.

The Lord kept Veretta to himself and to Peace. He connected her to our physical congregation through my visits and through his gifts of word and sacrament. But more importantly he connected her to an eternal peace and an eternal life with Christ forever. Though Veretta is no longer here for me to visit we are forever united in Christ and one day we will be reunited with glorified bodies in heaven where no, doctor’s visits, hospital beds or wheel chairs will be needed. This is the Lord’s promise! 

Veretta was prepared, she was forgiven in Christ, and she will be … at home with Jesus forever because Christ has promised:

3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

May the Lord comfort you with this blessed good news now and forever!

Amen