Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Funeral Sermon for Mildred Clerc - December 21, 2009

The Church Season of Christmas
Advent 4
Funeral Service for Mildred Clerc
Our Savior Lutheran Church, Midland, MI December 21, 2009

Psalm 23
Isaiah 40:2-31
Matthew 11:25-30

“Rest for your Soul”

Matthew 11:25-30 (ESV)
25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. [Jesus said]28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit


Friends and family of Mildred, especially Marvin, Terry and Janene, Dona, and all the grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, Grace, mercy and peace be to you from the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Our Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel. Let us remember with thanksgiving what God has done through His servant Mildred Clerc who was given life by her creator and was born on October 25, 1918, the child of Arthur and Elsie Capper Mardlin. She received the gift of Holy Baptism and became a child of God, and publicly confessed her faith and was confirmed at St. John Lutheran Church of Midland. She often received the Holy Sacrament of our Lord, the precious gift of the Lord’s life giving body and blood. On February 7, 1942, she received the gift of a companion Marvin, her beloved husband, and they were married for over 67 years. Mildred and Marvin were blessed with the gift children, a son Terry who married Janene, and daughter Dona, and there are 4 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren. On December 18th, 2009, God blessed Mildred with a holy death and took her home to rest in the arms of Jesus to await the resurrection of the Lord. Blessed are they who die in the Lord, from this time forth and for evermore.

The text for today’s message is from the Gospel lesson of St. Matthew the Eleventh chapter where it is recorded that Jesus was speaking to a crowd about who He is. There in Christ’s message Jesus invited all who would know Him that He would bear the weight of everyone’s troubles. Jesus gave the promise that He would give rest to all who were worn down by the things that happen to us as we live in this world. Jesus offered Himself as the source of rest for everyone weary with life.

One can only imagine how hard it was to live in Jesus’ time. In a world absent from the luxuries that we take for granted, life was much more difficult than we could ever imagine. Water did not come from a spigot in the kitchen, daily bread did not come from a grocery store, nor was the noontime and supper dinner handed through a drive-through window. No washers or dryers, no five day, 40 hour work weeks either. No medical plans and the only profit sharing they knew of, was from a prophet who shared the Word of God. People worked for a living, in fact they worked very hard for all that they had earned. It would be very hard for us some or maybe even most in this modern age to imagine what it was to be worn out and worn down by the challenges of life. It would be hard to imagine what that crowd looked like, all those people who hungered for rest, who were listening to Jesus speak to them. But, they knew they needed rest from their weary lives, and so they stopped for a moment and listened to the Incarnate Word Jesus Christ who promised them something that they knew they couldn’t get by their own efforts.

As foreign as that ancient world may sound, it was not all that different a world into which Mildred, Millie was born. But Millie had determination so she grew up and by her own efforts managed many, many things. In a time when women were neither considered to be or allowed to be independent, Millie was all that. She found work at Dow, and during that time she met Marvin who would be the love of her life for over 67 years. But Dow had a rule at that time that a husband and wife could not both work at Dow at the same time. So Marv and Millie took a little trip down to Ohio to be married in secret. But the secret marriage to Mr. Short, was a secret that was short lived, Dow soon found out. And through determination Millie did work again at Dow, but there was a war, and soon there were their two children Terry, and Dona. And of course Millie did work as a book-keeper for over 31 years, while also keeping track of the family and Marvin too. Millie did all that without any of the modern amenities of computers and cell phones. Just pen and ink, and one very large and detailed record book known to the family as the big book. In that book Millie kept, in minute detail all financial transactions, for 67 years. Millie knew what she and Marvin earned by the sweat of their brows, right down to the very last cent. She had an impeccable memory and an incredible sense of detail to say the very least. Millie and Marv were indeed made for each other, for they knew what it was to labor and be heavy laden. She also knew what she did not have, and that is the ability to set aside the effects that sin, death, and the devil has on her and everyone in this world.

So Millie, and we too, can directly relate to the Gospel lesson wherein Jesus talks to a crowd wearied and worn out by life’s seemingly endless struggles. But Jesus knew what this crowd needed to hear, Jesus knew what you need to hear today too. That crowd, and you too, need to hear that Jesus gives rest to you the world worn weary. It is a rest which can not be earned by hard work and determination. Jesus gives that rest for free to all who believe and are baptized. For Jesus came to us in this world to prepare the way for our eternal salvation, which gives us that oh so needed rest. And the easy yoke Jesus spoke about was not about a yoke like the ones which make two pull something easier together. No, Jesus was speaking of the yoke of trying to live out the Law meaning trying to live a perfect life. That yoke of the Law is not easy. In fact it is an impossible burden to bear no matter how long one works or how hard you try. The yoke Jesus spoke of was the end of the Law. Jesus did live that perfect life, so there would be no burden at all for you. In fact, Jesus bore all the burden for our salvation upon His back which was laid against that wooden cross. And there on the cross all our toils, our weariness, and our endless labors are conquered and set aside, in His death He gave us life.

Millie knew that she could do anything, she could be in charge of anything, and could accomplish any task set that was before her. She knew that she loved Marvin very dearly. She knew that she loved her children, her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren. But these last few months Millie also knew that she was weary and worn down by 91 years of living in this world. She knew the next step for her would not be earned or overcome by her effort, but rather given to her by Jesus Christ Himself.

I miss Millie very much, and I know that you do too. But, I also know that in her baptism Millie was “dressed in white,”(Rev. 3:5) and her name was written in God’s big book of life. In this world Millie may have struggled for a lifetime and even for her last breath. But she knew that Jesus Christ was her Lord, who “was gentle and lowly in heart.” She knew that Jesus would free her and all believers in Him, from all the burdens of this world. Jesus has done all that and much more for Millie. For, indeed Jesus Christ has given Millie an eternal rest for her soul. Blessed are they who die in the Lord Jesus Christ from this time forth and forevermore. Amen.


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