Home > Death, Sermons, The Righteous Perisheth > But it begins.

But it begins.

from “A Walk into the Valley”, the last sermon of Rev. Erdmann Frenk, pastor of St. Peter Luth. Church, Joliet, IL from 1932 (?) to 1970.

“Now David, who presumably is the author of Psalm 23 says that God, as our Good Shepherd, is with us at all times and is concerned about the welfare of our total being.  And because this is so, we have nothing to fear.  Even when we must enter that phase of life, that terminal of life, which traditionally is unnerving and terrifying, even there we have nothing to fear if the Lord is our Shepherd, indeed.

He uses the imagery of sheep entering a dark valley, halting, hesitating, doubly cautious.  He applies this to man and man’s descent into the valley of death.

This descent begins at the top.  It may be your kitchen, your bedroom, your workshop, your club, your automobile.  It begins in places where you have been hundreds of times before.  But it begins.

And it usually begins suddenly, unexpectedly.  I know from personal experience.  You just don’t know when the summons comes.  There are often no advance physical symptoms for the advancing storm.

When I use the word, “suddenly”, I do not want to imply that there was insufficient time for preparation for this descent.   But often they were neglected opportunities.  And never do we recognize and regret this neglect more than when we are called upon to being this descent.

Now this descent is disturbing and bewildering to say the least.  No one really faces death calmly.  Do not mistake the bold front.  Behind the mask of calmness there is remorse, regret, suppressed fear.  Jude in his book depicts the death of Moses in terms of conflict and struggle and I believe that this applies to every one of us.

Certainly this applies to me.  I was scared when I found it increasingly difficult to breathe and feared that the last choking breath might come at any time.  I feared the physical pains.  I agonized at the thought of leaving my family behind.  The burden of work in this congregation at the busiest time of the church year, and who would and could do it, lay heavily on mhy heart.  I thought of the hospital bill.  I thought of being confined for many months.  I was suspicious of every pain and shot.  I thought of facing God and judgment.  And oh, the joy of waking up from every nap or sleep knowing that I was still alive.  Beginning the descent into the valley was not an easy one.  It was not easy for me. I am sure it is not easy for others.”

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