Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sermon: In Memoriam - Audrey Westlie

+ In Memoriam – Audrey Westlie +

March 17th, 2012

Philippians 4:4-9; John 11:17-26

 In the Name of + Jesus. Amen.
            When people die we often say things like: “They lived a good life; look at all the great things they accomplished; what a great person.”  And all of that was certainly true for Audrey. We probably hope for the same. But Audrey’s house was built on a solid rock.

            For the best and quickest way to tell how someone lives their life – isn’t to look at all at the things they have done – but rather, to look at the way they approach death.
            Take Martha, for example. Her brother Lazarus was dead. And what did she confess? “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Martha’s hope is Audrey’s hope. The hope of all who trust in Christ. Our dead, disease-ridden body will one day be raised in glory. Good as new. Christ died. Christ rose. Christ will come again. So, He declares as a certainty: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”  That’s Good news for Martha and Lazarus.

            “I am your resurrection and your life,” Jesus says to Audrey. Our bodies are built for life. That’s why death is such a struggle. Death is not the end. And that’s good news for you too. “I am your resurrection and your life too.”

             That’s why Audrey spent her last days, weeks and hours confessing and hearing the words of the Scriptures, the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostle’s Creed. Not her accomplishments. Not what a great person she was; not a word about herself at all. None of that mattered as much as hearing Jesus’ words for her. Hearing how Jesus died for her. Hearing what a perfect life he lived for her. Hearing all His accomplishments for her. Baptism. Being fed the Lord’s Supper. Being forgiven her sin day after day, year after year.

            No wonder Audrey’s favorite Bible passages from Philippians sounds like this: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

            That’s exactly what Audrey did. The lovely, honorable, just, praiseworthy and excellent things she thought about were these. That she was declared just – righteous – by Jesus’ death for her. Her sin was taken way by his death and she was now pure and lovely in God’s sight. For the most excellent and praiseworthy thing about Audrey is not that she knew herself to be great, but that she had a greater Savior. Not that there was anything excellent or praiseworthy about her at all, but that she was loved. Forgiven.

            Audrey knew that everything good in life was a gift. She knew she was a sinner. But more importantly, she knew that Jesus death on the cross was greater than her sin. For Audrey, it wasn’t so much about what she accomplished but what Jesus her Savior accomplished for her on the cross. And that is the best life of all. Living as one forgiven by Jesus. Living as one who deserves nothing from God and yet receives everything out of fatherly divine goodness and mercy. Living life as a redeemed child of God.

            She knew her Savior. She was baptized. There was nothing to fear. Jesus’ death on the cross had paid for all her sin. And she was free.  That’s how she lived her life. In love and service and God-given humility towards others.
            Whether she was making lists for Christmas, groceries or her beloved candies there wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do for her family. A good mother – you see – will go to the ends of the earth for you. That’s who Audrey was – a loving mother and grandmother, a caring friend. She loved because Christ had first loved her. That is where Audrey learned unconditional love from. She was a bright mirror, reflecting the love of Christ for her and for the world and for you. Because Audrey’s hope was not Audrey, it was Jesus.
            So, consider for a moment the life Jesus lived. Not just a good life. A perfect life. The only perfect life ever lived. And Jesus lived it, not for his own sake, but for you. He lived the perfect life you never could. He lived it because you can’t. He did it all for you. All his accomplishments: miracles, healing, teaching – he did it all for you.

            And most important of all, look at the way Jesus approaches death. Even in death he lives for you. He has the scars to prove how much he loves you. He was wounded for you. He suffered for you. He bore your sin nailed on his cross for you. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do to save you. No mockery too shameful, no nail too piercing, no pain too agonizing.  He goes to the end of the earth, even into the very heart of the tomb, for you. Love divine all loves excelling. The cross is his greatest accomplishment and he does it all for you.

In the Name of + Jesus. Amen.

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