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Funeral Sermon for Gloria Mueller

Funeral Sermon for Gloria Mueller

29 Jan, 2012

Click here for mp3 audio 14 Funeral Sermon for Gloria Mueller.mp3

 

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In 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? And 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.”  Jesus’ words in the Gospel reading today are familiar and comforting.  Christian people have been turning to these words for comfort in the midst of life and death in all its complexity and seeming incomprehensibility ever since they were said.  Jesus is so reassuring, we get a sense of the comforting love that God would have for His children.  These words are good medicine for hurting hearts and they are a summary of what are assured of on a day like today.  Our Lord Jesus Christ went to prepare a place for us in heaven, where those who die in faith will dwell with God forever.

But like a jewel shining in even greater splendor because of its setting, these words to come to us in the middle of an amazing set of set of circumstances.  Jesus speaks these words to His disciples not as it might sound, shortly before His ascension into heaven, but rather on Holy Thursday night after the Last Supper.  John tells us that it was after Judas had left them there in the Upper Room that Jesus said then to rest, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

“On the night when He was betrayed,” as we say, it was the night of treachery and deceit.  And it was the night of denial and disavowing of any knowledge of Jesus before such a terrible judge as a servant girl.  And Jesus knew well that it would all happen just as it did.  He knew not only what Judas had gone to do, He knew that Peter would not lay down his life for his master.  All that talk about being Him being glorified was talk about Him being lifted up on the cross and crucified.  He knew.  Jesus knew that the only way to the Father’s house was through the cross and the grave.

And as on cue,36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” 37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.”

And is this not where we are so often on days like today?  I should have called more often.  I should have taken the time to write.  We could have, we should have, if only we had.  This is the setting for Jesus’s words to us today: doubt, fear, unbelief, and guilt.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In 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? And 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.”

Do they not shine all the brighter now?  Do they not sound all the sweeter to our troubled hearts?  Jesus knew what was happening in the hearts of all those gathered around the table that night.  Jesus knows what is happening in your hearts now and He speaks to you even now.  “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.”

I have now gone two pages in this sermon and not yet mentioned our dear sister and your mother, Gloria.  I pulled the same maneuver in your dad’s funeral sermon and your mom wasn’t entirely sure what I’d meant by it.  She was so proud of your dad and she thought, I think, that maybe I hadn’t completely honored him.  The point I tried to make then is the same point I’m trying to make today and if I get it wrong again, I’ll just give up trying to be clever and preach more straightforward funeral sermons from here on out.  The point is this: this is perhaps, as it should be.  That in this moment today, we should focus on the reassuring words of our Savior and not try to focus on our loss but on what Willard and now Gloria have already gained and what we stand to gain in following after Jesus on the way that he has promised lies ahead for us.

To be sure, Gloria lived a life that evidenced a deep and abiding faith in Jesus Christ.  She grew up in the Lutheran Church; her life embodied life in the glory days of the Missouri Synod, not just becoming a Lutheran teacher at St. John’s Winfield, we’re supposed pause now in honor of St. John’s, but even marrying a Lutheran pastor.  And she embodied our Lutheran life not just in church but in faith.  I can’t remember Gloria ever coming to Sunday morning Bible Study but when we started on Wednesday nights, that was perfect for her and she was a regular and enjoyed it, at first coming with Pastor Mueller and then, even after he died, she was a regular up until this past autumn when she just couldn’t make it.  The hymns for the service today were culled from a long list of hymns in the back her old TLH and from the pages that were marked and starred and underlined and notated.  The readings were culled from a similar list that she had marked in at least three different Bibles I looked at.  The psalm today the setting for her confirmation verse, “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.”  (Ps 27:4)  Gloria’s faith was supported by all those words from the Lord and all those lines in our hymns.  She had a tested faith and faith that endured because it was a faith centered on Jesus.  Her faith was centered on Jesus who comforted troubled hearts and doubting and unfaithful disciples.  Her faith was centered on Jesus by the light of His word walked with her down that often dark road.

Jesus might as well have been talking to Gloria as much as He is to the disciples in this passage.  “And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going.  How can we know the way?”  Thomas is open, honest, and maybe even a little pessimistic.  His was the question of a man who was overwhelmed by life and his failure to understand any integral meaning in it.  And Thomas asks his question on behalf of us all, does he not?  Are we sure of the way?

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”  Jesus’ answer to Thomas’ question is the ultimate answer to the ultimate question.  Jesus is not just claiming to know the meaning of life, as though it might be some formula He could pass on to others.  But Jesus actually said He was the answer to the biggest problems in life, sin and its power over us and the black hole like power over everything that death seems to have.  Jesus’ solution to the problems of sin and death are, remarkably, not a formula for a better life.  Jesus’ solution is His very Self, crucified for sin and died to kill death itself.  Jesus is the way to the Father because only He has a perfect knowledge of God unmarred by sin.  He is the truth because He has the perfect power of giving meaning to life regardless of its ups and downs.  He is the life because He was not subject to death but made it subject to him; He did not live with death as the ultimate end of his life; He died to demonstrate the power and continuity of His life.  Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

Jesus is not a proof-text, He is the living, breathing perfection of God that we might truly know God in human form Who came in human flesh that we might be truly known.  What we know about Jesus is the core of our faith.  What Jesus says to us on days like today is uplifting for us not just because we believe it, but because it’s true.  These words are true because they come from the source of all truth, Jesus Christ, our Lord, Gloria’s Lord.  We are not comforted by a proof text but by a Lord Jesus Who conquered the power of sin and death and gave Gloria His mercy and new life.

Gloria knew her Lord, as we heard from Paul this morning, because Jesus knew her.  The Lord knew Gloria because He took on human flesh and lived in her world and died on the cross for her sins and died so that death would have no power over her.   And Jesus is not just Gloria’s Lord but is your Lord.  And His victory is your victory just as it is now already Gloria’s victory.

The coming days are the hardest days.  They are days of mixed emotion, of great thankfulness and great sadness.  The same Jesus will reassure you of the truth you have heard this day, because He is the, way, the truth and the life.  And it is none other than the Lord Himself who comforts and assures us today.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In 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? And 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.”

We give thanks to God for all the mercy poured out on Gloria during her time on this earth and we take comfort in not only the room He has prepared for her but His promise to return to take her and all those who believe to be with Him that she and we all may be where He is.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Michael Mueller
    February 9, 2012 at 9:47 am

    Thank you for posting. The service, the congregation, the singing, the church, burial, and reception were comforting, sad, joyful, and bitter. Thanks to all at Augustana.

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