In the name of + Jesus. Amen.
Dear family and friends. Death is a terrible thing. It is the ultimate expression of violence. Death demonstrates the violent nature of our fallen, sinful world. Our Gospel reading speaks of violence: “the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”
Whether death comes to children or to the elderly, whether on the battlefield or in the bed – death is violent. It is not part of God’s design.
In my visits with
The violence of sin and death visits everyone – the humble and the braggart, the soft-spoken and the boisterous, the stoic and the grumbler. Death overtook even the low-key warrior Cleveland Jouglard – just as it eventually claims each of us. For we Christians are all soldiers serving the
It is fitting that Cleveland, not only a battle-scarred veteran of the U.S. Navy, but a fallen comrade in the forces of the kingdom of God, is being committed to his maker on this day known to Lutherans as Reformation Day. This red stole symbolizes the blood of the martyrs and the fire of the Holy Spirit’s purgative work on the fallen world. On this day, Lutheran Christians around the world sing the stirring anthem: “A Mighty Fortress is our God” – in which the martial theme of the war between God and Satan, between eternity and mortality, between life and death – are played out in song.
In the words of the hymn “A Mighty Fortress is our God”:
With might of ours can naught be done,
Soon were our loss effected;
But for us fights the valiant One,
Whom God Himself elected.
Ask ye Who is this?
Jesus Christ it is;
Of Sabaoth Lord,
and there’s none other God.
He holds the field forever.
“That's just how it is.” Amen.
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Amen.