“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Magdalene E. “Mickie” Trott Lochman

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04. December 2022
Funeral of Magdalene E. “Mickie” Trott Lochman
John 6:68

In the holy Name of + Jesus. Amen.

My brothers and sisters in Christ—Diane, Kathy, Cindi, Debi, Netty, Sheri, spouses, grandchildren; great-grandchildren; great-great-grandchildren; sister, sisters-in-law, and brother-in-law—grace, mercy, and peace are yours in Christ Jesus your LORD and savior from sin and death. Amen. Mickie’s confirmation verse was John 6:68 and is proclaimed for our hope and comfort: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Our dear sister Mickie went through her share of life’s hills and valleys. At ninety-two years, it’s almost as if she lived multiple lifetimes. She was blessed with almost fifty years of holy matrimony to her beloved Edward. Like any marriage of two sinners whom God loves, I’m sure they had their good days and the not-so-good. And she was given to suffer his death along with you, now more than 27 years ago.

That’s life on the farm, too. It too has its times of plenty and times of extraordinary need. Sometimes weather cooperated, other times not. Sometimes the harvest and livestock grew and flourished, and then there is blight and drought. But through it all, God the Father saw that she and those entrusted to her were provided for.

She was blessed with nine children, all gifts from the God of life. But raising children is hard work, with days and nights of meals, teaching, nurture, and discipline. A mom (and dad) lives on each of you, their children, and not just the best parts. And her love carries forward into the lives of all you, grand, great-grand, and great-great-grandchildren. You’re all a kind of reflection of mom, grandma, great, or great-great grandma. 

But that’s not easy, either. It might be one of the greatest griefs for a mother to bury her own child. God gave Mickie to outlive three children, Jeanie, Joe, and Dan, and a grandson, Jacob. She suffered that grief, and always reminded me of them as we reminisced from her photos. But God gave her more blessings in another 18 years of marriage to Gerald. And again, the Lord took Him to into eternal rest. More sorrow and grief. Mickie knew life’s up and downs, but also knew where to turn. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” 

But there’s a danger, too. When everything in our lives is going along as we’d like, or at least close to some normalcy, we think we’re self-sufficient and independent. But when life takes a turn for the worse and we suffer need, loss, sickness, or tragedy, that’s when we realize we’re dependent and rely on others for our well-being. 

We make a few calls, quietly looking for help. Or if it’s more substantial, we would launch a GoFundMe or host an event at church to pick up the pieces. When we’re sick, we seek medical advice, and if serious, we get second opinions, look to alternative treatments, and put up a social media call for “thoughts and prayers.” When tragedy strikes, we recognize we don’t have the emotional or physical energy to respond and find others to lean on.

But when the need is satisfied, the loss reclaimed, health recovered, or the weight of the disaster lifts, we quickly return to our old ways, living as if we don’t need others and can take care of ourselves, thank you very much. The memory of those difficult times fades and we fail to prepare emotionally, physically, and spiritually for the next attack. We think we’ve finally escaped but life in this fallen world will always have its piercing arrows.

Today is a day where we know acutely our need. The LORD has brought us to a time of grief, sorrow, and loss. We’ve tried to find solace, answers, and encouragement everywhere else but they didn’t work. There’s some help in the cards, calls, emails, flowers, and all the other condolences. The sentimental songs, the platitudes, and the well-wishes aid the pain some, but won’t last. 

We need real comfort for our grief. We need real hope in the face of death. We need real joy that answers for our sorrow. We need objective truth from outside ourselves that says more and better things we can find in ourselves. And God has brought us near by the Spirit to hear His Word that gives the comfort, hope, and encouragement that we desperately need.

We need a real God who overcomes our sinful rebellion, frees us from death, and defeats the powers of darkness. We need Jesus. We need Jesus who forgives us. We need Jesus who breaks the chains of hell. We need Jesus who guides, encourages, and supports us as we travel through the valley of the shadow of death. We need Jesus who wake us up from our sleep in death, resurrected, whole, and alive again. 

The promises of God fulfilled for Mickie are the only thing that can give lasting relief for today, tomorrow, and forever. Remember Mickie’s confirmation verse: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” The apostle Peter is right! There is no one else who can give the promises needed for this day. So hear again Jesus’s promises for Mickie, and all those who trust in Him. 

He said to Mickie at the font, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” And with Baptism, He promised to never leave her or forsake her. He promised to repent her sin and forgive it in His shed blood. He promised to never be silent, but gathered her into His church to hear His voice. And in His teaching and preaching, Mickie was raised up in faith toward God and love for you and all those given to her to love.

 And in His body and blood, Jesus confirmed for Mickie that He would never stop strengthening and preserving her in faith and hope. And so, finally, on Tuesday, she confessed her sins, heard the Word of forgiveness, was comforted in Gospel of Jesus’s death and resurrection, and looked forward to the heavenly vision revealed in St. John’s Apocalypse. Jesus blessed her with the Song of Simeon, telling her that she could die in the peace of sins forgiven. And then the Jesus gave her a blessed death that same night, departing in the Lord’s peace, His Word fulfilled. 

That’s not just fancy church words meant to make us feel better. It’s the God’s-honest-truth given to us for our hope and comfort and joy and consolation. As you grieve, may your faith be that of St. Peter and Mickie. Listen and receive Jesus in His church where He’s promised for you. Remember the eternal truth, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” 

My brothers and sisters in Christ—Diane, Kathy, Cindi, Debi, Netty, Sheri, spouses, grandchildren; great-grandchildren; great-great-grandchildren; sister, sisters-in-law, and brother-in-law—the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guards your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen.

Rev. Christopher R. Gillespie
St. John Ev. Lutheran Church & School – Sherman Center
Random Lake, Wisconsin