TEXT: DEUTERONOMY 33:27/JOHN 10:27-30
THE ETERNAL GOD IS YOUR DWELLING PLACE
AND UNDERNEATH ARE THE EVERLASTING ARMS
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Dear Bill, David, John and Paul and families – and dear friends and fellow members of Florence Schaus: It was a pleasure to serve your mother, your grandmother, your sister-in-Christ as pastor these last decades of her life. Her time at Luther Memorial Chapel long preceded mine. Our congregation’s service to her and Bill outside these walls was at Luther Manor when his health failed and then to Flo these last half-dozen years at Chippewa Falls. I know, Paul that you took her sometimes to a sister congregation there before health concerns limited that. She expressed her thankfulness for your care in that way and for family care in many, many ways. Flo also expressed her thankfulness for connection to her church home here through cards of the Dorcas Guild and the Word and Sacrament connection through weekly tapes of the liturgy and sermon and through an annual summer visit. The last of those visits was on the 9th of July. We communed with Flo in her apartment and at her behest enjoyed lunch and visiting time with some of you and with her. The rhythms of life constantly change and Barbara and I will surely miss the day to partake in God’s gifts and to visit with Flo. Each of you will surely miss her presence in your own life is special and personal ways. While we rejoice in the eternal gifts God has given to her in Christ in is nonetheless proper to acknowledge the loss caused by the enemy of death – the loss of her voice and her care and her presence among us.

FUNERAL FOR FLORENCE SCHAUS – 8/1/14
TEXT: DEUTERONOMY 33:27/JOHN 10:27-30
THE ETERNAL GOD IS YOUR DWELLING PLACE
AND UNDERNEATH ARE THE EVERLASTING ARMS
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Dear Bill, David, John and Paul and families – and dear friends and fellow members of Florence Schaus: It was a pleasure to serve your mother, your grandmother, your sister-in-Christ as pastor these last decades of her life. Her time at Luther Memorial Chapel long preceded mine. Our congregation’s service to her and Bill outside these walls was at Luther Manor when his health failed and then to Flo these last half-dozen years at Chippewa Falls. I know, Paul that you took her sometimes to a sister congregation there before health concerns limited that. She expressed her thankfulness for your care in that way and for family care in many, many ways. Flo also expressed her thankfulness for connection to her church home here through cards of the Dorcas Guild and the Word and Sacrament connection through weekly tapes of the liturgy and sermon and through an annual summer visit. The last of those visits was on the 9th of July. We communed with Flo in her apartment and at her behest enjoyed lunch and visiting time with some of you and with her. The rhythms of life constantly change and Barbara and I will surely miss the day to partake in God’s gifts and to visit with Flo. Each of you will surely miss her presence in your own life is special and personal ways. While we rejoice in the eternal gifts God has given to her in Christ in is nonetheless proper to acknowledge the loss caused by the enemy of death – the loss of her voice and her care and her presence among us.


The text that she desired for this sermon is from Deuteronomy 33:27. The eternal God is your dwelling place and underneath are the everlasting arms. These words come from Moses final blessing upon Israel – spoken to the Tribe of Asher. God was promising that no enemy would be able to rob Israel of the blessings God had in store for them. The text that I read to Flo just three weeks ago – gets to the heart of this promise and all of God’s promises. From the first chapter of Second Corinthians (v.20) she heard, “For all the promises of God find there Yes in him (Jesus). That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory. The people of Israel were God’s choice to bring salvation into this sin cursed world. Israel reduced to one was the man sacrificed for the sins of the world – the very Son of God. Through Him the eternal God is our dwelling place.


The eternal God is your dwelling place and underneath are the everlasting arms.
A wonderful thought Flo had in mind concerning her death. God is eternal – we are not!  He is and always will be. He spoke creation into being by the authority of His Word. The world and mankind is not here by accident. He gave your loved one life - knitting a baby girl together in her mother’s womb in Hurley, Wisconsin. Paul and Pauline Mehnert welcomed the birth of their daughter, Florence on January 24, 1922.


Those caring parents in northern Wisconsin knew that one day death would come to their little one. Believing rightly that they nor any human being has the answer for this last enemy, they took their little one across the river to St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Ironwood, Michigan. There, baby Florence was baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. She was baptized into the death of Christ – the center of human history. She was given rebirth as God’s child and clothed in the very one who is the answer to all of God’s promises (Galatians 3:27).


It was also at St. Luke’s in Ironwood that Florence continued to receive God’s gifts. As a young lady she was catechized in the central treasures of God’s Word and confirmed in 1935. You have shared her confirmation verse - our Gospel reading from John 10. Think of that young teenage girl receiving a baptismal blessing and hearing these words spoken by Pastor Fergin on her confirmation day. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. It so wonderfully completes the promise made in Deuteronomy 33. The eternal God is your dwelling place and underneath are the everlasting arms.


The Holy Trinity is the eternal God. Because He is holy our sins separate us from Him. He is not our dwelling place by nature. That’s why the Word made flesh came to dwell among us full of grace and truth. Through His forgiveness, through the work of His arms God dwelt with Flo and continues to hold her now.


For the eternal God to reach down and put His arms around us, very tiny arms were once knit together in the womb of the Virgin Mary. In the miracle of the ages God the Son grew in His mother’s womb as Flo’s sons once grew in her womb. His arms were first seen in his birth in the town of Bethlehem. The arms of that infant boy were the everlasting arms of the eternal God.


Because death is the wages of sin those arms would have to shoulder an incredible burden. They were the arms of Him who loves us with an everlasting love. God used all of His strength to be our eternal dwelling place by stretching out those arms in brutal crucifixion. On the cross He finished our redemption. His arms went limp in death and His body was laid in a garden tomb.


That’s how the eternal God put His arms underneath Flo and all who hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. And it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him (Acts 2:24). Just as He promised He rose from the grave on the morning of the third day. His once for all sacrifice gives us peace with God. His resurrection gives us new birth into a living hope. It is the hope that young lady Flo heard in her confirmation verse My sheep hear my voice…I give them eternal life and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. Said another way – The eternal God is your dwelling place and underneath are the everlasting arms.


As God holds us in Christ – He would have us use our arms to hold others in mercy and care. He would have us be at work in life’s vocations in love for our neighbor. As a young woman Flo studied Home Economics at the University of Wisconsin. Miss Mehnert then taught science to students in Marquette, Michigan for a short time.  On Feb 25th, 1945 she took a young man named Bill Schaus into her arms – receiving God’s gift of marriage. In that union mother Flo’s arms were often underneath four sons through young family years. Her arms were also active in providing more help all around when polio affected Bill with its limiting weaknesses. Briefly in Michigan and Illinois and over many decades in Milwaukee and Shorewood her arms were at work.


Added to the care of her arms - at more distance then she would have preferred - was the arrival of eight grandchildren through the years. We used to hear of this one’s studies or that one’s achievements or this one’s marriage. Grandmother Flo was thankful for her family. Indeed her central focus was described by you as Christian life and family. What a wonderful and underappreciated vocation is the vocation of homemaker in our day. What a wonderful gift you have received in her care for each of you in personal and family ways. What a treasure above all treasures when a mother, a grandmother, a sister in Christ takes serious concern for the one thing needful – the voice of the Good Shepherd and the gifts of forgiveness of sins and eternal life that He gives. She would give thanks for your presence here today and for the presence of His Word among us.


That little congregation of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Ironwood where God took Flo as His child and put His name on her is no longer there. It closed some decades ago. Her home and her family’s business in Hurley are long gone from her presence and activity. Her beloved spouse of over 55 years is no longer here. Her home on Ardmore for so many decades – her apartments at Luther Manor and then at Wisota Springs are no longer her dwelling places. But what her parents saw as her foremost need in bringing her to receive God’s presence and gifts and what her pastor spoke into her ears on her confirmation day – and the new life she continued to receive in water and word and bread and wine - that remains. The eternal God is your dwelling place and underneath are the everlasting arms. The voice of the Good Shepherd is still active – ascended on high – interceding for His saints!  The voice of the Good Shepherd is still active as He comes to His gathered people each week to teach them and to feed them – to give them life and salvation. Your life and mine is also quickly passing by. Your one solid treasure and mine is the very same one that Flo confessed.


Just three weeks ago in that communion service with Flo – another text was also read. Also from 2 Corinthians (4:16-18) she heard these words – So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the thing that are unseen are eternal. In that service Flo confessed her sin and received God’s absolution – the very peace the risen Christ commanded be spoken in His church. In that service Flo confessed clearly the Apostles’ Creed we have spoken here. In that service the sermon focused on the newness of life Flo had in Christ Jesus – even amid outward aging and weakness. She heard again the promise that God held her in His arms and would never let her go. In that service the risen Christ served her His very body to eat and gave her to drink of His very blood for the forgiveness of her sins. Those gifts from His cross come with His intensive, forgiving love and nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.


How quickly her 92 years have flown away! How much change Flo saw in her life as daughter and student and teacher and wife and mother and grandmother and as citizen in this country! Some of it she delighted in!  Some of it caused her sorrow. So it is in this troubled world. One of the hymn stanzas she wanted us to sing and to hear today expresses it well, Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day, Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away; Change and decay in all around I see; O Thou who chang-est not, abide with me.


Her greatest concern for herself and for you whom she loves was Him who doesn’t change – the eternal God. Please take deep comfort today in God’s sure and certain promises to her. Even through the valley of the shadow of death the Good Shepherd goes with His own. Today Flo’s body will be laid to rest – her arms are still for a while. But on the Last Day when the Lord comes again her body will be raised. Body and soul she will dwell in the new heavens and the new earth – the house of the Lord forever. She knew well that the reason for this gift was not her strength but God’s grace. The eternal God is your dwelling place and underneath are the everlasting arms – now more fully than ever for Flo.


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