TEXT: MATTHEW 6:25-34
ONLY CHRIST CAN FEED AND CLOTHE US FOR ETERNAL LIFE!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Dear Darlene, Judy, Sandy, Bob, Jim, other family members and friends, fellow members at Luther Memorial Chapel of Bill Walters;  As you mark the death of your husband, your father, your grandfather, your brother, your colleague, your friend, your brother in Christ, please give ear to the Gospel from Matthew chapter six – “…which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life…Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”


I have never used this reading for a funeral sermon before.  I do so today for a specific reason.  On one of my summer visits to Bill at St. Mary’s hospital we talked for a little while and then I read from Psalm 31.  These words were the focus of that devotion - But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.”  My times are in your hand (v. 14-15).  After the prayers Bill said that the devotion called to mind the substance of his favorite Scripture text – our Gospel reading for today.  The Son of God spoke these words about trouble and worry - about length of life and His care for us - in the Sermon on the Mount.  Spoken by the one who came into our troubled world in order to give us life without end – they are very fitting as we remember God’s gifts to Bill today.


The Greek word for anxious used here means to have divided thinking about something – a divided mind as it were.  For your loved one who was quite a thinker – quite cerebral – these words of Jesus were a treasure in dealing with anxious thoughts that came his way.  Scripture’s exhortations not to worry presuppose that every person naturally cares for himself and his life and his family and his future.  What makes proper concern foolish is the illusion that we are in control and can secure our own life.  Bill confessed the opposite of that foolishness through His faith in Jesus Christ. 





FUNERAL SERMON FOR WILLIAM WALTERS – SEPT. 12, 2013
TEXT: MATTHEW 6:25-34
ONLY CHRIST CAN FEED AND CLOTHE US FOR ETERNAL LIFE!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Dear Darlene, Judy, Sandy, Bob, Jim, other family members and friends, fellow members at Luther Memorial Chapel of Bill Walters;  As you mark the death of your husband, your father, your grandfather, your brother, your colleague, your friend, your brother in Christ, please give ear to the Gospel from Matthew chapter six – “…which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life…Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”


I have never used this reading for a funeral sermon before.  I do so today for a specific reason.  On one of my summer visits to Bill at St. Mary’s hospital we talked for a little while and then I read from Psalm 31.  These words were the focus of that devotion - But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.”  My times are in your hand (v. 14-15).  After the prayers Bill said that the devotion called to mind the substance of his favorite Scripture text – our Gospel reading for today.  The Son of God spoke these words about trouble and worry - about length of life and His care for us - in the Sermon on the Mount.  Spoken by the one who came into our troubled world in order to give us life without end – they are very fitting as we remember God’s gifts to Bill today.


The Greek word for anxious used here means to have divided thinking about something – a divided mind as it were.  For your loved one who was quite a thinker – quite cerebral – these words of Jesus were a treasure in dealing with anxious thoughts that came his way.  Scripture’s exhortations not to worry presuppose that every person naturally cares for himself and his life and his family and his future.  What makes proper concern foolish is the illusion that we are in control and can secure our own life.  Bill confessed the opposite of that foolishness through His faith in Jesus Christ.

I’m not familiar with Bill’s life as a young child as you who are his siblings would have been.  But you his family have conveyed how his scholarly approach was quite clear as a young man.  From studies in engineering and applied math to missile school to a PHD in Physics, Bill’s clear thinking was required and recognized and rewarded in college and in the service.  His subsequent vocations as Physics Instructor and Dean and Vice Chancellor at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee revealed the same desire for learning and teaching and careful thought.  This spotlight on learning continued even into retirement as he was instrumental in programs designed to help teach secondary school teachers how to teach Physics. 


Darlene, his sharing of the finer points of “resonant frequency” of sound and movement while on a date was surely a solid clue as to the active, teaching mind of this man God would give to you as husband in marriage..  For family - his avid reading of history and topics of interest at home - his competitive alertness and “winner” attitude in family games would show the same logical attentiveness even on a casual level. 


But what gave Bill peace of mind and heart and what helped him deal with the cares of life was not chiefly his good intellect nor his skill nor his professionalism.  What He confessed to be that source of strength and comfort was God’s mind and heart toward him as made known in the gift of God’s Son.  After Bill spoke about this text on that day in the hospital I read it to him and had an additional devotion and prayer with him.  On two other hospital visits on that day I used the words of Bill’s cherished text as well.  Please give your attention to what he rated so highly.


Jesus speaks here of necessities for life – food and clothing.  I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Your heavenly Father feeds the birds of the air.  Are you not of more value than they?  God clothes the lilies and grass of the field – will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life…Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. 


Directives not to worry come from many directions in this fast-paced chaotic world.  But the words that Bill treasured didn’t come from the world they came from the one through whom the world was created.  In human flesh God the Son used the birds He created and feeds and the flowers He arrays in glory to calm the minds of His followers.


God called Bill to that standing – as His own child - through the gift we sang and spoke first about today.  On April 24th, 1932, Robert and Elsie Walters brought baby William to be baptized at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Racine.  The treasures God connects to that gift are beyond mental calculation.   They are beyond cerebral – to celestial! Scripture reveals that Baptism now saves us like Noah and his family were rescued in the ark (1 Peter 3:18-22); that it gives forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38); that it is a washing of rebirth (John 3:4-7; Titus 3:5-8); that it connects us with the death and resurrection of Christ (Romans 6:3, 4); that it clothes us with Christ (Galatians 3:27); and that it gives us a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3, 4).  Holy Baptism is not magic – in that it can be spurned and turned away from.  But it is a miracle of rebirth – a holy mystery – that God is always faithful to!


Bill did not turn away from this gracious gift by which God called him and put His name on him.  This past Saturday when Bill lay in great weakness in his home and could hardly speak, he responded when the name into which he was baptized was invoked.  “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” was spoken. “Amen” was heard from his lips. In June when he received the Lord’s Supper at home the sermon text was from 2 Corinthians 12 – God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness and God’s grace is sufficient for us.  The conversation that followed the Divine Service came around to God’s gift of faith.  One of the thoughts Bill added to that conversation is what we ask still ask our catechumens to learn by heart even as Bill did years ago at St. John’s.  He said, I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to him, but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified  and kept me in the true faith.


What comfort there is in those words that put so much of Scripture’s teaching about faith in a nutshell!  God used Martin Luther to do that again and again.  Bill knew that his intellect could not plumb the depths nor scan the heights of the Holy Trinity or of the Christian faith.  As it was with Bill, so it is with every Christian.  Faith in Jesus Christ is the work of the Holy Spirit – a miracle – a gift that comes through hearing and hearing through the speaking of Christ. 


Darlene, Judy, Sandy, Bob, Jim – take deep comfort in the words of His Savior that Bill continued to hear.  Take strong comfort in the food of His Savior that Bill continued to receive.  You see there is a food and there is clothing that does give life.  The clothing is the righteousness of Christ.  The food is heavenly food – served by the Bread of Life Himself – His very body to eat and His very blood to drink for the forgiveness of sins.  And where there is forgiveness of sins there is life and salvation. 


That forgiveness led to a day of trouble like no other for the one who spoke the words of our text.  “Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  On a Friday we now call Good the Son of God had no food – only sour wine was offered.  As He was hoisted up on Calvary in public display, He had no clothing.  The soldiers divided and gambled for that at the foot of the cross.  He died carrying all the sinful anxieties of every human being – Bill included.  He died as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  He died to give us life beyond the grave.  The “Giving Tree” that Bill suggested we might use for our mission and mercy gifts to others has God’s giving tree as its source!  Because of this central act of human history, because God in the flesh tasted death for us, Bill’s death in no way means he is “kaput” – that word He would sometimes use.  No, no, no!  Sin and death are “kaput” in Christ!  God’s Word always does what it says and the Son of God trumpets this comforting truth, I am the resurrection and the life whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live…(John 11:25).  


Bill could not add a single hour to his life – nor can you – no can I.  But Jesus added an eternity of life to Bill.  Death is swallowed up in victory so completely that there will be physics in the new heavens and the new earth – physical space – physical place – physical beauty.  But in our bodies there will be no physical deterioration – no blood cancers – no knee replacements – no heart issues.  And no one will have to be taught how to think!  There will be no physics classes for in our imperishable and immortal bodies we will fully know even as we are fully known. 


O death, where is your victory?  Yes, you are an ugly enemy – not a friend - but now you are a defeated enemy.  He whose body was placed in the Garden tomb stepped forth in new life on Easter morning!  Bill’s confirmation verse applies to that wondrous day in a unique way.  From Psalm 33:4 It reads, The Word of the Lord is right (really upright)!  And all His work is done in faithfulness.  On the morning of the third day – just as he said – the Word made flesh was standing upright – risen bodily from the dead.  His work of finishing our redemption was done in faithfulness.  “It is finished” he had cried in bloody and sacrificial victory.   “Peace be with you” He voiced on Easter morning.  The trouble on Him on the day of His death was so sufficient that we are now given peace with God by the blood of His cross. 


Bill is absent from our presence, but not from the presence of the risen Christ.  For Bill, that is far better.  For us the closest meeting point with him and all those who have died in Christ is now here at the altar – as Christ comes to serve us a foretaste of the feast to come.  We rejoice in all the company of heaven with us in the Divine Service, for where the head (Jesus) is the body (His church – including His church triumphant) is as well.


Even as you will miss the voice and touch and the sight of Bill so we will miss the presence of Bill visibly in our midst.  His calm and caring service for us as president and chairman of Christian education provided stability and encouragement in years past.  His kind manner and pleasant conversation were present here decades before my coming.


But now his course is run!  And soon yours will be as well – as will mine!  Our worries cannot add a single hour to the length of our lives.  Our Lord not returning before the appointed time for us, the cords of death will also entangle us.  But in Christ they cannot hold us.


Bill knew that death is a problem for which his normal mantra did not hold.  “It’s all Physics” he would say with regularity to many subjects and in answer to many questions.  But concerning His greatest need – concerning what matters forever - He confessed something else!  By confessing his sin – by continuing to receive Christ’s life-giving gifts in Word and Sacrament Bill said - “It’s all Jesus and His forgiveness” – who with the Father and the Holy Spirit is one God, now and forever.  AMEN.   

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a