Friday, September 11, 2009
In Memoriam + Dorothy I. Ketchum +
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The world takes little note to this gathering. On the way to the cemetery the rat racers will speed up to beat us, caring not at all, and therefore showing no respect, for those who mourn. Neither are any dignitaries going to stop by. The paper will only run an obituary that you pay for. To them, to the world at large, Dorothy was not important. She was old. She was sick. She was not fabulously rich or famous. Her death does not qualify as news. It is not interesting to the world.
But it is to you. To you, she was something special, a unique and lovely person. The world ignored her to their poverty. For you this is an event of great and personal significance. But you are not the only ones who mark this occasion. So, too, do Dorothy’s brothers and sisters at Trinity. So, too, do the angels. I do not mean this modern mythical nonsense of babies with wings, or lovely points of light, or super-hero’s wandering the earth helping people. I mean the angels of the Holy Scriptures, the cherubim and seraphim, those mighty, powerful beings in God's army who guard and protect His children, who announced the birth of His Son to shepherds in their fields, rolled away the stone that sought to seal Him in the grave, and whom, the Scriptures tell us, rejoice over one sinner who repents.
Those angels rejoice this day for Dorothy. They rejoice because God's will has been done in, and for, her. Christ has honored her above the angels. For He did not become an angel, but a Man. He became a Man precisely in order to take up Dorothy’s sins, to die her death, and to rise again for her justification. He has paid her ransom, removed her guilt, made her His holy, perfect, innocent, and immaculate child, named her as His own in the waters of Holy Baptism. All this she received by humble faith. Christ is the Savior of all men. He died and rose again for all. And those who believe in Him, submit to His Word, trust in His mercy, are saved, spared the ravages of Hell and delivered into perfect bliss of heaven. Thus says Our Lord: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”
And so it is that we mourn not as the world mourns. We do not weep for Dorothy, nor do we pray for her. She needs neither our tears nor our prayers. Jesus has paid everything for her. There is no side stop along the way. There is no debt, no price for heaven. She already now has His reward. We weep this day for ourselves. Our time is not yet ended. We are still asked to endure this cruel world and its many hardships. And now, we must go on without the benefit of her company, without her wonderful chicken and dumplings, without her dancing and singing, and without all the times we shared with her.
But that being said, we have hope. Not some sickly, weak, half-hearted wish that maybe there is something good, something lasting after death. But the hope and promise of the Word of God which cannot lie: The good that most Holy Trinity has done for her He does to all who believe in Him. If you also look to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for forgiveness, if you also hope in the resurrection of the dead and the life to come by the grace and mercy of the Most High, if Jesus is your Lord, then Dorothy has not been taken from you forever. There will be a reunion. You will see her again. And your days there, without tears or sorrow, without pain or sickness, without troubles and woes are without end. So that St. Paul can scarcely imagine even trying to compare that incomprehensible glory with all its wonder and delight to the sufferings we currently, and fleetingly, endure.
Not just you and the angels note this day. So also, does Our Father in heaven. For He loved Dorothy enough to sacrifice His Son that He would have her with Him forever. He loved her even more than you do, and He still does.
Thanks be to God! He does all things well. His mercy endures forever. His love is from everlasting. May He soon also deliver us.
In + Jesus’ Name. Amen.