Tag Archives: resurrection

Text of Funeral Sermon for Charlie Gruschow

I almost didn’t get through this one…

Biblical Texts: Isaiah 49:13-16, Romans 5:1-5 and Matthew 11:28-30
Introduction
Charlie Gruschow was a fixture here at St. Mark’s. And I say that in more ways than one. He was a fixture as a greeter handing out bulletins on Sunday morning. Being the youngest of a large family, he was a great talker with a twinkle in his eye. A bit of rogue-ish charm. The family name is on the stained glass windows right there. He was never a junior, but Charles is also on there. And there is a great story about that organ. Charlie saw the bank account going down and took it upon himself to, and I’m quoting, “get something before the buffoons spent it all”. Charlie’s in the fixtures, and I’ve often reflected that when I stumbled across something fine or of good quality, Charlie was behind it. He didn’t go for junk.

He didn’t do that around church. Charlie didn’t do that in jobs he did. He was always willing to help and do the work.

Now I suppose that same unabashedness and charm combined with those high standards might have led to some confrontations over his years. Charlie was his own man and had his own opinions. That conflict continued in some ways in his later years as instead of battling things external Charlie started battling his own body. When work – like mowers and blades and tractors – that you’ve lined up just can’t be done, it grated. It sucks, when your own gait can’t measure up to your standards.

Gospel in the Life

But let me suggest that Charlie understood something very important.

Peace didn’t come easily to Charlie, he worked. He expected to work. I expect that was why he was here, even hobbling, almost every Sunday. In the midst of a life of work, He knew he needed the grace. In an era full of cheap grace – lowered standards, denial of culpability – Charlie would have none of it. He was plainspoken, even if the plain speech pointed at himself. He might not have shared that with everyone, he was a man of his time, but he didn’t spare himself. And he needed the real grace – the grace that is only available through Jesus Christ.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God.” Charlie needed that. When the work was beyond him, he was strong enough to take God’s peace declared on that cross. And due to his standards he knew the full measure of what that cross offered…of what that cross offers you.

Conclusion
I have to admit something, my prayers for older folks who have major surgery are often two-fold. Typically I ask for healing and restoration, but I also usually ask that God’s peace might be with them. My prayers were selfish with Charlie, I wanted him back. One more story, a couple of months ago at men’s club, Charlie started telling of one of those confrontations that happened roughly 20 years ago. An elder of the congregation had stopped by and somehow had expressed the thought or feeling that he was fine if God took him. That offended Charlie and that day that elder was practically thrown out of Charlie’s house. But at this retelling I got the feeling Charlie was telling it not as a saga of old, but as a current reflection.

Charlie’s passing was a shock – to the doctors and to us. I was too engrossed in my selfish prayers. But Charlie heard Jesus – “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He was willing to put down the yoke he had pulled so long.

Charlie put that down, not in weakness, but in hope. Suffering produces endurance, and endurance character, and character hope. And Charlie was full of hope. Charlie knew that we who are buried with Christ in baptism will also be raised with him. We are engraved in the palm of His hand, and our walls our bodies will stand before Him. Resurrected bodies no longer bent by the work, but eternal dwellings full of grace.

So, the work remains our task, and we do not have Charlie to pull it anymore. But his witness remains with us as well. In the grace of Jesus, we stand. In the Hope of the Glory of God, we rejoice. (Rom 5:2) Amen.

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Song 1:1-2:7 and John 5:19-29

Song 1:1-2:7
John 5:19-29
Coincidental comfort, Allegory of Church & Christ, church in the midst of the vineyard/flocks

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Exodus 9:1-28 and Hebrews 2:1-18

Exodus 9:1-28
Hebrews 2:1-18
Signs and Wonders, Slavery to the Fear of Death, Resurrection, Freedom

Power and Goodness

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Biblical Text: John 11:17-53
Full Draft of Sermon

Two of the traditional attributes of God are His Sovereignty and His Goodness. This sermon reflects on the conflict those appear to produce today. I can’t help but look at our culture and see a people who are, against what they actually say, aware of God’s sovereignty but don’t believe or trust in His Goodness. Take Christopher Hitchens for a second, his biggest applause line was always, “God’s a bloody tyrant”. His logic doesn’t work. Just because someone is a tyrant doesn’t mean they don’t exist. (Don’t even try, it’s an applause line appealing to felt emotion and not logic.) But, in almost every level of culture the same idea is expressed. Keanu Reeves calls God “a kid with an ant farm” in the B-movie Constantine. A little more heady, the Walking Dead, about a resurrection of sorts, keeps returning to themes of tyranny and tribalism. Only the tribes with a strong leader survive. The mantra of a generation appears to be “don’t judge me” and the noticing of something is taken as akin to tyranny. Nietzsche called Christianity a religion of slaves for a couple of reasons: a) the first reasons was the God used his power on the side of the slaves against the “supermen” but that leads to b) God is the only “superman” or the only tyrant allowed to stand. What these all share is an attribution of power to God, but not goodness. Hence my final line “zombie apocalypse of tyranny”. A God who was only powerful, who was just the resurrection, would do something like that. And that is our cultural bug-a-boo, we still have an idea or a feeling of the power of God, but we have lost faith in the Goodness. And we have lost faith with the Goodness because we have severed ourselves from Christ and the body of Christ.

It is only in the incarnation of Jesus that we can fully observe and take in the goodness of God. Unlike our power, God uses his power for good. And that includes the bestowing of life on all who believe. Jesus is the resurrection (power) and the life (goodness). And that life is not tyranny but “full of grace and truth”. But the only place you find both the resurrection and the life is connected to the body of Christ which is the church. Connected through Word and Sacrament, proclamation of forgiveness and incorporation in water, bread/body and wine/blood. Rejecting the church is rejecting Jesus. Rejecting Jesus is rejecting the goodness of God. The power is still naturally know by looking out the window. But the power alone isn’t enough. We need law and gospel. We need power and goodness. We need the resurrection and the life.

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Genesis 44:1-18, 32-34 and Mark 12:28-44

Genesis 44:1-18, 32-34
Mark 12:28-44
Toward a definition of love, it isn’t love if is doesn’t cost, The Community of Love and the Resurrection
The Temple Rang with Golden Coins – Lutheran Service Book 787

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Genesis 43:1-28 and Mark 12:13-27

Genesis 43:1-28
Mark 12:13-27
Fear of Loss and Death vs. Resurrection and The God of the Living

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Job 36:1-21 and John 11:38-57

Job 36:1-21

John 11:38-57

The challenge of the Works of God which bring about death and life

O Christ, Who Shared our Mortal Life (LSB 552)

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Job 34:10-33 and John 11:17-37

Job 34:10-33

John 11:17-37

Resurrection & Life

Daily Lectionary Podcast – Job 19:1-12, 21-29 and John 8:1-20

Job 19:1-12, 21-29
John 8:1-20
Resurrection, Basis of Judgment, Our false eyes, the call of mercy

Sermon on the Mount – part 3

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Biblical Text: Matthew 5:38-48
Full Sermon Draft

In this sermon we continued to look at how Jesus delivers the authoritative interpretation of the law. But the last two examples take a dramatic turn from the first four. Jesus fully spells out the way of the cross which is the way of love. A way which he alone in this life fulfills. We, until the resurrection, are called to follow, to grow in love and all good works.