January 10, 2020

Catherine Diane Mayworm Heideman Funeral

Passage: John 16:22
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Beth, Sue and Tim,
Family and Friends,
Members of Calvary Lutheran Church,

The Word of the Living God to which I direct your hearts and minds this morning is taken from the Gospel of John, Chapter 16, verse 22:

22 Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

In the name of Jesus,
The source of our joy today and always,
Dear Fellow Redeemed by His Blood --

It was Maundy Thursday evening and Jesus and his disciples were ‘at table’ eating the Passover Meal. I can’t help but wonder if the disciples ate much of anything that night, because Jesus kept dropping bombshells.

First the master did the unthinkable…He got up and proceeded to wash his student’s feet, one by one.

Afterward, He revealed that one of His own disciples would betray him…which sent the room into a cacophony of questions, “Is it I, Lord?”

Jesus told them that He was going away…and that they couldn’t follow Him. This after they had walked and talked and lived with Him for the better part of 3 years.

He told them that His time in the world was coming to a close. In a little while the world would see him no longer. They were shocked and confused.

So, Jesus soberly assured them:
20 Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. 21 A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

The Son of God was referring to the events of the next day. He would be betrayed, condemned and crucified. He would be dead in less than 24 hours. If they were painfully confused on Thursday evening…they would be crushed the next evening.

But Jesus didn’t only promise them sorrow, He also in the same breath promised them a joy that no one would ever take from them.

If Jesus’ promise seemed like ‘pie in the sky’ that night…it must have seemed impossible the next day…when He was nailed to the cross and died. I wonder if His words rang in their heads:

22 Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

For many of us Jesus’ Words are true this morning. Now we have sorrow. We feel sorrow because Catherine Heideman’s has departed this life. Even though it was expected – death is still a blunt and painful reminder that we aren’t in control. We breathed a sigh of relief when complications from surgery nearly took her…a year ago. We didn’t see this coming then. We didn’t expect this 6 months ago. Death has a way of stopping us short and bringing us to our knees.

We have sorrow now. We feel the sorrow of separation because we understand that we can no longer talk to Catherine or hear her laugh.

Maybe you are thinking, “It’s just not fair.” Look around…what in this life is fair?

So, you want to talk about unfair?

Is it fair to make someone else accountable for sins He didn’t commit? Well? That’s what God did to His Son. He made Him who knew no sin accountable for our sin. Jesus was the one sinless human being who deserved joy and happiness. He earned it. Is that what he got?

God the Father turned His back on His sinless Son…and saddled Him with sin’s consequences -- so that Catherine will never have to be called to account for her sins. Sound fair to you?

God the Son faced the consequence of human sin alone, He was sorrowful to the point of death…so that Catherine might never have to feel the sorrow of eternal separation from God. He went to the cross alone…so that she might be forgiven, justified, vindicated. Fair?

Unfair? It was the reason the Son of God entered human flesh and blood. He came to be the sacrifice to take away the sins of the world. He endured sorrow and pain like we will never know…so that we never have to. He endured sorrow so that we can have unending joy.

Jesus’ Disciples experienced sorrow on Good Friday. Their hearts were broken…but on the first day of the week, Sunday, He rose again from death. He rose from death to give his disciples a joy that none could ever take away. He – by his death – atoned for sin and then he broke death by rising again. He who was dead lives…and those who trust in Him will also live again.

Catherine will live again (no, not merely in our hearts or our thoughts; she will rise again at the last day) because Jesus promised her a joy that would never be taken away.

Jesus is the Son of God…and His Promises aren’t like the trite sayings that we offer up on a day like today. We say, “She’s in a better place. She’s no longer in pain.” Those things are true, but these sayings offer little real or lasting comfort.

We have sorrow now…but Catherine doesn’t. She has joy, joy that no one can take from her. Joy that was purchased at great cost.

God the Holy Spirit made certain that Jesus’ sinless life was credited to Catherine Heideman when He washed away her sins in baptism. She confessed this truth when she was confirmed.
God the Holy Spirit also proceeded to increase her joy through the Sacrament of the Altar. There at the altar, the Spirit of God enabled her to hear her Savior’s voice, “This is my body given for you. This is my blood shed for you for the remission of sins.”

Catherine Heideman was a positive and happy lady…we will miss her smile. She was a positive person because she understood God’s tremendous, unfathomable love. It was her hope in Christ that – at the most difficult times -- brought her tears of joy.

We have sorrow now…because it’s painful to say goodbye. We have sorrow but Cathy has joy. She is with the Lord which is better by far. She doesn’t have doubts and fears. She sees Him face to face. She will rise and awaken in His likeness and her body – cancer free will be glorified.
Catherine now possesses the joy that no one can ever take away…and trusting in Christ Jesus – you can have the same. It’s a gift that Jesus died to win for you. It’s a gift that can carry you through difficult days like this and through death to life eternal.

He lives to silence all my fears,
He lives to wipe away my tears,
He lives to calm my troubled heart,
He lives all blessings to impart.

Amen.