“Who Was and Is and Will Always Be” Funeral of Beverly Behnke

22. April 2024
Funeral of Beverly A. Behnke
Isaiah 25:6-9; Revelation 21:1-9

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. 

In the holy Name of + Jesus. Amen.

The Word we heard from our Lord Jesus Christ today was spoken for your comfort. Jesus, His Prophet, and His Apostle spoke of times to come. But the future and the past are not so different. He spoke of what was, is, and always will be true. Jesus has conquered all His foes by His death and resurrection. He gives that victory to His saints, washed clean in His blood in Holy Baptism, taught and kept in faith by His Holy Word, nurtured and sustained by His body and blood in the Lord’s Supper. 

The victory won by Christ Jesus is given to you through His Word attached to water, bread, wine, preaching, teaching, and absolving. Jesus brings you to faith, keeps you in faith, and finally makes everything new in the resurrection. On that day, what was already true by His suffering and death, what is already true for you by His ministry to you in the church, will be true when He gives all believers resurrection of the body and a life that never ends. 

When Jesus suffered and died, His disciples and the women grieved and wept tears of sorrow. But when He rose again, He came to them, proclaimed peace, and showed them His hands and side. He is risen and victorious. He wiped away their tears of sorrow and turned them to tears of joy. Today, you have sorrow and bitter tears. Your mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister, and friend died. Despite her long life of eighty-five years, the sting of death is still real. It hurts to lose to the grave one we love, and we cry. 

But today, Jesus the Living One comes to you to begin to wipe away your tears of grief, too. Just like with His fearful disciples, hiding behind closed doors for fear of death and in sorrow for His loss, Jesus comes and says to you now, “Peace to you! I made Beverly God’s own child in the water and Word of Holy Baptism. I forgive her all her sins in Holy Absolution. I instructed, corrected, and encouraged her with my Holy Word. I fed and sustained her with the Holy Sacrament. I overcame death for her by my suffering and death. And now she has been given a holy death and rests safely with me until the resurrection on the Last Day. Peace to you.”

He proclaims to you a Word that is the only antidote for the guilt we hold in our conscience, the shame of the evil done to you, and the fears, anxieties, and worries that weigh you down. You were made for Him, and He died to save you. The Father raised him that you, too, would be raised by His voice of command on the last day. So He says, “Peace to you. You are forgiven!” Even now, you get to enjoy a little taste of the resurrection. 

With these promises, Jesus is beginning to wipe away every tear from your eyes. His promises give us rest, peace, comfort, and confidence. Without Jesus’ Word, all we would have is empty platitudes, hope grounded in nothing, and vain words that provide no lasting comfort. But Jesus won’t have it. He wants you to know for certain and be confident that His salvation is Beverly’s, yours, and for all those awaiting His reappearing in that final hour.

But more than that, only Jesus can tell what is forever true because He alone is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end. He speaks not only of what was and is but also of what will come. Thus, you heard from His prophet about a future feast that no Village Inn feast can compare to. It won’t just be the quality of the meat and wine. But above His saints, while feasting, the full expanse of the heavens will be open. Stars, planets, moon, and sun will shine bright because the thick covering of darkness that dims even the heavens will be lifted. Death will be swallowed up forever.

As you grieve today, do not lose hope. Hear Christ Jesus for your comfort and confidence. “Behold, I am making all things new!” “Let not your hearts be troubled… I go and prepare a place for you, [and] I will come again and will take you to myself… I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” “It is done! To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.” “Believe in God; believe also in Me.” 

May God the Holy Spirit strengthen your faith in Jesus’ Word. And then you, with Beverly, will exclaim on that final day, “Behold, this is our God! We have waited for Him, for Him to save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for Him; let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” And then what always was and is true will also be true forever. 

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