FUNERAL SERMON FOR MARGARET LEWIN – JAN. 31, 2015
TEXTS: MATTHEW 19:1-7 & MATTHEW 4:18-20
MARGARET WAS CAUGHT IN THE NET OF GOD’S WORD!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Dear Nancy, Doug, Jeff, and Michael; dear family and friends and fellow members of Margaret Lewin:  as you mark the death of your mother, your grandmother, your friend, your sister in Christ, God comfort you with the texts appointed for The Transfiguration of our Lord.


The text from Matthew 19 is the last one that I used with Margaret. Last week when I visited her at Heritage Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Port Washington she was sitting in her chair. When I asked if she would like to receive the Lord’s Supper her answer was an eager “yes.” I noted how the church year followed the life of Christ and the coming Sunday (last Sunday now) was His glorious transfiguration. Margaret heard then as you just did, he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light…and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 

FUNERAL SERMON FOR MARGARET LEWIN – JAN. 31, 2015
TEXTS: MATTHEW 19:1-7 & MATTHEW 4:18-20
MARGARET WAS CAUGHT IN THE NET OF GOD’S WORD!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Dear Nancy, Doug, Jeff, and Michael; dear family and friends and fellow members of Margaret Lewin:  as you mark the death of your mother, your grandmother, your friend, your sister in Christ, God comfort you with the texts appointed for The Transfiguration of our Lord.


The text from Matthew 19 is the last one that I used with Margaret. Last week when I visited her at Heritage Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Port Washington she was sitting in her chair. When I asked if she would like to receive the Lord’s Supper her answer was an eager “yes.” I noted how the church year followed the life of Christ and the coming Sunday (last Sunday now) was His glorious transfiguration. Margaret heard then as you just did, he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light…and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”


The sermon Margaret heard on that day was brief. But I proclaimed to her that Jesus’ face shining like the sun…his clothes as white as light was not so much a miracle as the setting aside of a 33-year-long miracle. God the Son has always existed with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He was there at creation. It was He who in the beginning said, “Let there be light. And there was light.”  It was He who threw the sun and the moon and the stars into space by His Word. Yet it was He who in the fullness of time came down in the flesh – in the womb of the Virgin Mary. He humbled Himself – veiling His divine power and glory as He lived and ministered visibly in the flesh. But on the Mount of Transfiguration, the veil hiding His divine majesty is temporarily drawn aside. After conversing with Old Testament Saints – He who fulfills the law and the promises of the prophets went down from that mountain to His crucifixion.


Margaret heard again on that day that the payment for her sins on Calvary was infinite in value!  It was the sacrifice of Him who is both God and Man – Jesus Christ. She heard again that it was by His command that she was baptized into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. She heard again that because Jesus rose from death, she also, as one who was receiving His forgiveness, would rise from death.


It is a miracle of faith when a sinner is led to see their need for forgiveness and receives in faith the forgiveness spoken by the risen Christ and the forgiveness He promises in the reception of His body and His blood in the Sacrament. On that day in her room at Heritage, Margaret confessed her sin and heard God’s absolution. She received the forgiving food of the Lord’s Supper. God give you deep and abiding comfort regarding her eternal well-being. She confessed her dependence on Jesus Christ. She was not relying on herself – her person – her works – her desires. She was relying on Jesus and Jesus is faithful to His promises. It is He who said, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (John 8:12).


He who created light in the beginning came into this world darkened by sin and death to once again give us sinners the light of life. I would invite to consider that light through another text from Matthew and through an aspect of Margaret’s life that you as children fondly recall. The text is from Matthew 4 – While walking by the sea of Galilee, he (Jesus) saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 


The Son of God chose to bring His light into this world and into sin-darkened hearts through His Word spoken by men He sent out. He called the apostles and sent them out to proclaim that the kingdom of God came through Him and through His Word. It seems like poor fishing equipment – like words can’t really give light and life. Yet, faith comes by hearing and hearing through the speaking of Christ (Romans 10:17)


Peter and Andrew were by trade fishers of fish. It took a great deal of skill to make a living fishing on the Sea of Galilee. It was important to study and to know the rhythm of the lake – the best depths and times to fish – the condition and finest placement of the nets. Then Jesus called these men to be fishers of men. The simple means that they were to use for that fishing was the Word of God proclaiming Jesus as the Word made flesh.


In that light, consider the recreational fishing and the fishing for food that your family, including Margaret enjoyed. Time together, spent in that way can be relaxing and enjoyable. While Margaret fished it would seem that her chief reason for doing so is that she liked to be with you.


In one way – the relative success she enjoyed in fishing for fish – is helpful in considering the effectiveness of the Word of God in fishing for men. She was not what you would call “skilled” at fishing. She didn’t study the best methods, she didn’t buy costly lures, she didn’t have what might be termed championship casting and reeling proficiency. Her use of a Rapala and her simple spin casting and artless plopping of line and bait in unlikely places didn’t seem all that impressive. Yet she would catch some fish. Whether sitting on an upturned boat and hooking a good sized bass or snagging a Muskie with her simple rig – at times she seemed to catch fish more often than those she accompanied. Dear family and friends of Margaret, it is good to recall the company and the wonderful cooking and the camping and the fishing she enjoyed. The heart of the matter for her was that she liked to be with you! 

 

Now death separates her from this passing earth. Death is an enemy and death is ugly. Whether by congestive heart disease or other aging factors; whether suddenly or in a lingering way; death is not natural!  It is a curse (Genesis 3)!  It is the wages of our sin (Romans 6:23). Margaret had no answer for it – nor do you – nor do I!  But Jesus does!  He tasted death for us – He died on the cross under the full load of punishment for our sin – to open death’s door to life eternal. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.


That’s why it is important to come to the Lord’s house now and receive the gifts that the crucified and risen Christ bestows. The means He uses to fish for men seem rather foolish to the world – no gimmicks – no flashy fanfare. He uses His word to work faith in human hearts and He uses His word to sustain faith in human hearts. As He called Peter and Andrew, so He still calls men today - to be fishers of men. He sends them out to plop the Word and the Sacraments of Christ into the waters of this world.

 

It is why the church gathers in worship each week – not to perform for Him but to receive from Him His word of light and life!  It is why pastors call on those who are not able to come to God’s house – as was the case for Margaret as her age increased and her health decreased. The means for fishing are always the same – God’s Word and God’s sacraments. It is through these that He calls us to be His own in Holy Baptism – water combined with His word. It is through these that He continues to carry us in the faith. He who said “let there be light” and there was light - also said, “take eat this is my body,” and “drink of it all of you, this is the new testament in my blood shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,” “keep on doing this in remembrance of me” – that is continue to receive my body and my blood believing that I am here in your midst to give you what I promise.


You can depend on Jesus and His promises. What occurred on the Mount of Transfiguration shows you who it is that journeys up to Jerusalem to die on Calvary. His face shines like the sun because He is God in human flesh. The payment He makes is that of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). It is the most profound treasure that baby Margaret Sylvia Walsh received on June 21st, 1925 when Pastor Gausewitz baptized her at Grace Lutheran Church in Milwaukee!  In that gift, He who shines like the sun – He who is the light of the world clothed baby Margaret with Himself (Galatians 3:27). It is the most profound treasure that weak and aged Margaret Lewin received just last week. He who, in the beginning said, “Let there be light” is the same one who said, take and eat, take and drink for the forgiveness of your sins.

 

You see Margaret was caught in the net of God’s Word. The simple means of His Word of life is not so simple. Though heaven and earth will pass away His Word will never pass away. He is still plopping down His Word in this fleeting world. He is still fishing for sinners – like you and me - inviting us to continue receiving His forgiving love.

 

As Margaret liked to be with you – so God’s desire is to have you be with Him forever. The world can’t get you there. You cannot get yourself there. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and he opens God’s eternal presence to you – as He opened it to Margaret.


God bless all of you with comfort concerning her and with hunger and thirst for the righteousness of Christ. He still shines like the sun!  He clothes those who live and die in Him with that same splendor. He is still fishing for men!  He is still plopping down His forgiving Word and Sacraments to draw us to Him and to keep us in Him.


In the Name of Jesus, Amen.  

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
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