TEXT: REVELATION 7:9-17
PRAISE BE TO THE LAMB FOR ROBES WASHED IN HIS BLOOD!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Dear George and Lisa and Kathryn, dear family and friends and fellow members at Luther Memorial Chapel of Mona Goodnature; as you mark the death of your mother, your grandmother, your friend, your sister in Christ, please give ear again to these words from Revelation chapter seven. These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.


The words that Mona spoke were these - “Praise be to the Lamb.”  “For robes washed in His blood, Praise be to the Lamb.”  It was in a time of tribulation for her back in 2007 – the fall and broken hip – the time in Columbia Hospital – the uncertainty of recovery - the change of rehabilitation centers – her move to Libertyville. God would use suffering and loss in our life – He would use pain and weakness in our life to perfect his strength – to see that His grace is sufficient for us. On another of those visits Mona asked, “What would we do without the Lamb?”  Her thankfulness to receive God’s gifts in Word and Sacrament reflected well the words she spoke in her assertive way - “Praise be to the Lamb – for robes washed in His blood.”


Those white robes came to Mona very early in her life. Louis and Mabel Bensend took their baby girl to receive God’s washing of rebirth just a few weeks after her birth. She received Holy Baptism at The Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Saint Paul Minnesota - 89 years ago next month. In that gift she was born to eternal life. God promises that Baptism now saves us like Noah and his family were rescued on 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). Among all the gifts that Mona received in her life – among all the varied interests of culture and art and education that she pursued – there is nothing in this passing world that compares to what God gave to tiny Mona Bensend – nearly nine decades ago. Just a few weeks into this life she was born to eternal life by God’s gracious doing.

FUNERAL SERMON FOR MONA GOODNATURE – 9/21/13
TEXT: REVELATION 7:9-17
PRAISE BE TO THE LAMB FOR ROBES WASHED IN HIS BLOOD!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Dear George and Lisa and Kathryn, dear family and friends and fellow members at Luther Memorial Chapel of Mona Goodnature; as you mark the death of your mother, your grandmother, your friend, your sister in Christ, please give ear again to these words from Revelation chapter seven. These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.


The words that Mona spoke were these - “Praise be to the Lamb.”  “For robes washed in His blood, Praise be to the Lamb.”  It was in a time of tribulation for her back in 2007 – the fall and broken hip – the time in Columbia Hospital – the uncertainty of recovery - the change of rehabilitation centers – her move to Libertyville. God would use suffering and loss in our life – He would use pain and weakness in our life to perfect his strength – to see that His grace is sufficient for us. On another of those visits Mona asked, “What would we do without the Lamb?”  Her thankfulness to receive God’s gifts in Word and Sacrament reflected well the words she spoke in her assertive way - “Praise be to the Lamb – for robes washed in His blood.”


Those white robes came to Mona very early in her life. Louis and Mabel Bensend took their baby girl to receive God’s washing of rebirth just a few weeks after her birth. She received Holy Baptism at The Lutheran Church of the Reformation in Saint Paul Minnesota - 89 years ago next month. In that gift she was born to eternal life. God promises that Baptism now saves us like Noah and his family were rescued on 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). Among all the gifts that Mona received in her life – among all the varied interests of culture and art and education that she pursued – there is nothing in this passing world that compares to what God gave to tiny Mona Bensend – nearly nine decades ago. Just a few weeks into this life she was born to eternal life by God’s gracious doing.


As that little girl grew, there was amazing change for her in the many decades of her life! From being the daughter of an agricultural instructor at UW – Platteville – to serving in the reconnaissance plotting department of the Army Air Corps in WWII – to getting her teaching degree – Mona’s interests and experiences were many and varied. Her post-graduate studies in library science and her interest in athletics were certainly an asset in her years in teaching elementary school. Her teaching aptitude and interest were also constantly evident – even in the gifts that she gave to her grandchildren. Who needs toys when children would benefit so much more from books and trips to the theatre and discussion of the same?  An incredible reader herself – she hoped to instill that good desire in those little ones that she taught and in her own little ones – both children and grandchildren.


It was in that vocation of teaching while at Round Lake that she met George – then working in Kenosha. When his work brought them to Milwaukee and Shorewood – the Goodnature family grew with the blessing of two children. On one of my visits with her near Christmas time I read from Saint Luke’s account of the birth of Christ – the Son of God. It is the miracle of the ages – God coming down to earth as true man in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Mona was very expressive in her thankfulness for that visit and the Christmas text. After the communion service we spoke further and Mona observed that God’s gift of His Son was the greatest love story there could ever be. She also spoke of God’s gifts of her own son and daughter and how God’s blessings were beyond expressing.


That says a lot for one who could quite vigorously express herself on most things. Last spring on one of my visits to bring her the Lord’s Supper the text I used was Psalm 23. The Divine Service on my visits always includes the confession of sins that we speak in worship here. As always, Mona clearly acknowledged that as her confession of sins. She believed God’s revelation that we all like sheep have gone astray and that God laid on Christ the iniquity of us all. She received God’s absolution with her own “Amen.” 


On this particular visit as Psalm 23 was read (from the King James Version) Mona spoke along word for word. The sermon proclaimed that the table the Lord prepares for us in the presence of our enemies is the Lord’s Supper - that the Good Shepherd was the crucified and risen Christ who was right there in her room according to His promise that where two or three are gathered in His name (that is to call upon Him in public worship) He is in their midst. The sermon continued that despite the presence of our enemies (our sinful nature, the world and Satan) the heavenly food of His body and His blood does just what He said - give us forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. While here in the service our normal congregational demeanor is not to respond during a sermon - on that day, Mona did so. Right there as those truths were proclaimed – in that distinct way that Mona could speak – she simply exclaimed - “Wow!”  


Indeed – Wow!  No food in all the world does for us what the very body and the very blood of the Lamb of God does – food that He feeds us from His table every week in the presence of our enemies. After the sermon and service was ended and we talked a bit more – Mona’s thought of her house in Shorewood surfaced – as it sometimes did. She was one who put down strong roots in this community and its clubs and societies. She was one who ached over the separation from her home just a few blocks from here. The Word of the Lord we heard on that day provided comforting thoughts as our conversation ended.


She heard again that the psalm she had just spoken provided the only real and abiding answer to the transitions of life and to the end of life. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for Thou art with me. Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me”…and…“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  Mona’s lasting home was not one in Shorewood – although God gave it as her home for many decades – nor was it at Laurel Oaks. The abiding place for her is in the house of the Lord forever. He who is the way and the truth and the life prepared that place for her and all His children. 


I recall when Mona was in this house of worship for Pastor Hessel’s funeral. It was so good to see her here as we saw her here in worship to receive God’s gifts through the years. Her friends Gladys and Irene and Valerie would sit with her in this area and often take lunch together after the service. How quickly the years and the people change. How wonderful that the Lamb who was wounded for our transgressions does not – that He is the same yesterday, today and forever.


I am made aware that one of the art awards to be given today at the Shorewood art festivities is to be given in Mona’s honor. She was one who appreciated the beauty of artistic talent and tried her own hand in artistic projects. I cannot remember a time when I visited her that she did not ask how my wife Barbara was and comment on her thankfulness for the art work in the church – it’s windows and banners, etc.


One of the tribulations for Mona that affected the depth of her enjoyment of that realm and its beauty was her macular degeneration. Her difficulty in reading and in clearly viewing things is truly a great loss. This prince of the senses – eyesight – is one she made use of to the fullest extent as long as she could – in reading and viewing and painting and appreciating.


On this day as you mark her death and the fact that you will no longer see her on this troubled earth with your eyes, please take the deepest comfort in the sight that God gave her that goes beyond the limits of this dying world. It was the sight of faith. It is trust in the gift of God the Son in human flesh. It is belief that the crucified and risen Christ has made peace with God for us sinners by the blood of His cross and delivers that peace in His promised gifts of water and word and bread and wine. It is the gift of faith that Mona expressed in her words while in weakness and pain – Praise be to the Lamb – for robes washed in His blood.


Mona’s strength was not great enough to hold on to God. No human being has that strength. Mona’s sharp intellect was not sharp enough to plumb the depths of His wisdom. No human being has that wisdom. In fact, God’s wisdom is foolishness to the world that is perishing – it is the wisdom of Christ crucified and risen and at work as He has promised to forgive us. Graciously, mercifully, consolingly – that wisdom was not foolish to your mother, your grandmother, your friend, your sister in Christ.  Amid all the passing things – yes also the good things that are ever so frail and temporary – God give you comfort in her praise for that which is eternal.  Praise be to the Lamb – for robes washed in His blood.


In the Name of Jesus, 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