T In Memoriam – Rita Leona Drews T
Redeemer Lutheran, HB - April 9, 2011
Text: Isaiah 40:27-31; Revelation 7:9-17; Matthew 11:25-30
Grace Mercy and Peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ + Amen.
“Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Those are rather fitting words from Jesus for a woman who never seemed to find much rest in this life. If there was anyone that I’ve known in need of rest it was Rita. She had a hard life. She battled disease. She struggled. To the naked eye it might appear that death and disease won the day – but that is only to the naked eye. The eyes must be clothed – as Rita’s were – with Christ’s promise. With Christ’s victory.
Who are these clothed in robes and white? Whose scarlet sins have been covered in the snow-white fleece of the Crucified and Risen Lamb? Who are these who see victory and comfort even in the midst of cross and trial? They are the ones coming out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes – their eyes, ears and their whole life – and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Rita’s Lamb. Your Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.
But Rita’s restlessness was not always painful. There was great joy in service, in loving her family. Vacations. Wedding Day. Birthdays. Those are the kind of simple, yet peaceful days – the best days of life – the kind that people would gladly suffer a life-time of pain just to experience once.
Although she was quite busy – whether it was quietly writing for the church newsletter, lovingly preparing wedding gowns or scurrying about the kitchen - Rita preferred to be anonymous. A saintly church mouse. That’s just the way she would have it. Rita would much rather have us talk about Christ her Savior than herself. So that’s exactly what we’ll do. As it turns out, that’s also the way our Lord prefers it. For as much as Rita loved to serve – Christ her Savior and ours - loves to serve even more. That is who she learned the art of love and mercy from in the first place.
There is nothing our Lord wouldn’t do to save His people; He was restless with salvation. Always planning His rescue. Where sin and death were sown in the hearts of Adam and Eve; our Lord planted a promise in the seed of the woman. Where toil and labor became the day to day grind; our Lord promised an eternal rest in His Son. Where man and woman were continually born under the yoke of sin; our Lord was born in our very same flesh under the yoke of the Law to win our eternal rest; to become heavy laden with our iniquity bearing the burden of our sin on the cross.
Jesus – Rita’s Savior and ours – also worked hard. He had a difficult life – surrounded by the pain and disease of humanity. Battled temptation for you against Satan. He fought – and fought hard – worked his hands and feet to death in order to strap the all the sin in the world to His back and carry it with Him to the cross.
That you might never become weary or faint, our Lord thirsted upon the cross, drinking only the bitter cup of wrath against sin. That you might find shelter in His presence at His altar in heaven and on earth, He was enthroned on wood and nail, robed in crimson stripes for you. That you might never be anonymous in the God’s sight; Jesus was forsaken of God’s presence. That you might find rest for your weary souls – not just a short break to rest your weary heads – but an eternal rest, He was laid to rest in the tomb. Jesus was yoked in our death so that we are yoked in His life.
“Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
What greater comfort is there than that: to be at rest with Christ until the Last Day when He returns to raise Rita and all who are asleep in Jesus – from the dead to a new, glorified, resurrected, perfect body. No more pain. No more tears. No more struggle. No more illness. No more death. This flesh will be raised from dust and decay in glory and life as surely as Christ’s was risen on that first Easter Sunday. For Jesus lives. And because Jesus lives, Rita too will live. That was her hope. That is our hope. We await, with Rita and the all Christ’s saints, that final Easter. That eternal Sabbath rest. For I am sure that He who began a good work in Rita and in you will bring it to completion at the Day of Lord Jesus Christ.
In Christ, the best days are yet to come. For Christ has brought us – as He brought Rita – through streams of living water to Himself; His Baptized children, washed in the blood of the Lamb. Carried by the Good Shepherd, Rita’s Shepherd, your Shepherd. He is your Resurrection and Life. Your Rest and Salvation. And in the Lamb’s book of life there are no anonymous saints.
In the Name of Jesus + Amen.