Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Sermon: Funeral of Lowell Braem - 2019

9 April 2019

Text: John 10:10b-15, 27-30 (Isa 25:6-9, Rom 5:1-5)

In the name of + Jesus.  Amen.

Dear Vicki, Kathy, Barrie, and Lisa; family and friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, honored guests: peace be with you!

The life of a first responder is a reminder of our Lord Jesus Christ: a sanctified life of service to others.  And especially the police officer, whose family knows all too well that each day that he goes to work might be the last day that they see him on this side of the grave.  He lays down his life for his family, friends, community, and even perfect strangers, and Jesus says that this is the very definition of the word love.

In His mercy and wisdom, the Lord granted our brother in Christ Lowell a long life of service to his city, community, and family.  And we are grateful to God for his life of service, and we are grateful for this opportunity to reflect upon our Lord who created him, protected him from all harm and danger, and worked through him to serve us in many and various ways – including the holy vocations of father and grandfather.  For these too are reflections of the love of God the Father: one who protects us, hears us, shows compassion to us, guides us, and shares in the joys and sorrows of life with us, year in and year out, in love.

Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  For we are indeed like sheep.  We go astray.  We need to be gathered by our Lord and kept from harm.  Our Lord came into our world to protect us from the wolf, that is, the devil, to lead us to lie down in the green pastures of peaceful sleep, to bring us to the life-giving waters of holy baptism, to restore our souls – for we are all sinners in need of forgiveness and mercy.  And when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He takes away our fears, for He is with us, dear friends.  Our Good Shepherd is with us.  He saves us.  He calls us home according to the will of His loving Father. And He comforts us with His Word and sacraments when we pass through the valleys of suffering, mourning, and death.

Our Lord is no hireling.  He is the owner of the sheep, and He loves us – just as a father and grandfather loves his family – only where we are imperfect, Jesus is perfect.  And when the wolf comes, Jesus does not run away, but He stands and fights for us: He fights for us with every strained breath on the cross.  He bleeds for us.  He suffers for us.  He dies for us.  He rises again for us.  He gives us everlasting life!  

For “we have been justified by faith, and we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” says St. Paul.  For our Lord Jesus Christ is our Good Shepherd.  He knows His own.  He knows our names, one by one.  Our lives are important to Him.  “My sheep hear My voice,” He says, “and they follow Me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand.”  

The abundant life that Jesus gives doesn’t stop at death, dear friends.  For we have the promise of “the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.”  Just as our Good Shepherd walked out of His grave that first Easter morning, our Good Shepherd will shepherd His servant Lowell – and all who are baptized and who believe – from their graves, to live eternally in their restored and renewed flesh and blood.  We will once more eat together, see one another, embrace, talk, laugh, and sing together, raised in our bodies just as our risen Good Shepherd lives in the flesh.  For hear anew the promise, dear friends: “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined….  He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces….  It will be said on that day, ‘Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, that He might save us.  This is the Lord; we have waited for Him; let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation.’”

We give thanks for the life of the Lord’s servant Lowell, for his life of selfless service and love, for his protection, instruction, and joy – and we give thanks for our Lord Jesus Christ, who created us, redeemed us, comforts us in our grief, shepherds us in good times and bad, forgives our sins, and raises us from the grave to give us life, that we may have it abundantly, a life that has no end.  Amen!

Peace be with you.  Amen.

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

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