Home > Funerals > As a Bride Adorns Herself with her Jewels. Funeral Sermon.

As a Bride Adorns Herself with her Jewels. Funeral Sermon.


In Memoriam + Betty Hadala

Fred C. Dames Funeral Home

Isaiah 61:1-3, 10

August 25, 2015

“As a Bride Adorns Herself With Her Jewels”

Iesu Iuva

Ruby, Dale, Neal, Jayme,

All of Betty’s family and friends,

Members of St. Peter Lutheran Church:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

God’s Word for our comfort this morning are these words from Isaiah the prophet: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord…for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10)

 

We are here to give thanks to God for Betty and to commend her, soul and body, into the hands of the Lord who gave her and now has taken her away. It’s hard to do this because we are confronted with pain—hers and ours. She lived the last few years of her life sorely missing her husband and life’s companion, Don. And we are in pain because we have to say goodbye to a kind and gentle woman.

Those are the two things I will remember about Betty—her love for her husband and her gentleness. I can remember sitting with her and looking through old photos, talking about Don’s time in the service and seeing her tears because she so missed him. I also remember her gentle spirit. She was comforting just to be around. I gathered that it was not just me that felt that way. From what I understand some of the young women who worked at Senior Star would come to her to talk about their troubles—probably with boyfriends—and get her advice. She was a comforting presence. And if she was for me and the workers at Senior Star, certainly she was also for Don and you.

Two of the readings for today talk about themes related to weddings. That is appropriate for the day we say goodbye to Betty—not just because she loved her husband so much on earth, but because today she is resting and waiting for the heavenly, eternal wedding of all believers in Christ with Jesus, the heavenly bridegroom.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,” says the Old Testament reading, “because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted…to comfort all who mourn….” (Isaiah 61:1-2) The one who is anointed to bring good news and comfort the mourners is Jesus. He came to earth to bring good news to those who were in chains to sin and death—that is, all people. He came to announce freedom from sin and death, to bring comfort from heaven, and to bring joy and rejoicing where there was gloom.

There are probably few occasions on earth happier than weddings. Maybe that’s because weddings represent hope for the future. The older we get, the more we experience the vanity and futility of this world which is the result of Adam’s sin. We work our whole lives and then someone comes after us and does whatever he wants to with the work of our hands. We grow to love more deeply as the years go by our spouse and family, only to be parted from them by death. But a wedding signifies hope. It’s a man and woman pledging for better or worse to be one flesh so long as they both shall live. Why would you do that unless you had hope that there would be a happy ending to your story, despite all evidence to the contrary?

But the hope that springs from human love is not enough to save us. As great as the power is of a love of a man for a woman, it isn’t strong enough to overcome the curse on us for Adam’s disobedience to God, and our own. We find ourselves in the place Isaiah describes—brokenhearted, in chains to sin and death. Even gentle souls like Betty, even those human beings regard as good, are born in sin and bound by death.

But Jesus comes to us anointed by God to bring comfort and to prepare us for His wedding. He came into the world to break the bonds of death and sin. He came and still comes to proclaim liberty and joy to the captives of sin, death, and the devil.

Jesus proclaims that though we live in the valley of the shadow of death, death’s hold on us is broken. It is broken because He, the Son of God, became one with us in our humanity. He was born of a virgin and laid in a manger-cradle. He came that way to be united to us and to pay our debt to God so that we might be His beloved bride for eternity. As Jesus grew older, nothing in His appearance gave away that He was the all-glorious Lord, the Creator who lives forever and ever. He looked in every way like one of us. He was subject to the same sweat and toil as we are. He was subject to the curse of futility that is on the earth because of sin. Jesus went to funerals and mourned over death. He did this so He could be made like us in every way except for sin.

Then in the last 3 years of His life He was anointed to preach good news to the poor. He began to proclaim the forgiveness of sins to those who were poor and brokenhearted. Sin is the cause of death and every evil. It isn’t something we can cure because it infects our will, heart, and mind to their very core. But Jesus came proclaiming the forgiveness of sins. God cancels all sin for those who believe in Christ. And those who believe in Christ are dressed up in beauty as a bride for her husband.

Jesus not only preached the forgiveness of sins. He also made it happen. He gave His life, which was without any stain of sin, as a ransom for His bride, as a payment that her sin and guilt might be cancelled. This is why the prophet says: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Is. 61:10) This is how Jesus makes us ready to come to the wedding of eternal life and be joined to Him as His bride. We are not beloved to Christ and pleasing to Him because we strive to make ourselves beautiful by living a holy life, although we do that. But He has made us holy and beautiful and without blemish. He paid in full for our sins by His death on the cross. And now He clothes us with the glorious garments of salvation and righteousness the way that a bride comes down the aisle in her wedding dress. He gives us the wedding garments of salvation as a free gift, through faith in Him alone.

That is why Jesus summons us to rejoice for Betty today. To the flesh it looks like she has lost. But she has really won. Death is the beginning of her victory. Because she was clothed with the garments of Christ’s holy life and death when she was baptized. In those holy garments she drew near and received the bread and the cup of the heavenly wedding feast—the body and blood of Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar. That means we lay the body to rest not of one who was enslaved to sin and death, but one who had been made free. She has been made free from death and corruption by Jesus, her heavenly bridegroom. Betty loved Don and Don loved her.   But the love of their heavenly bridegroom is even stronger than their love. It destroys sin and swallows up death. So we rejoice that Betty lives and rests with Jesus today. She is not separated from the bridegroom who rose from the dead. But we also rejoice that this body that we lay to rest will also be united with Christ. He will return and raise all the dead with His voice. And those who believed and were baptized into Him will rise with the glorious wedding garments He has given them. They will rise with glorified, immortal bodies that shine with the glory of God forever. Jesus covers us with salvation’s clothes and righteousness’ robe in this life through the proclamation of His death for us. But on that day we will see them with our eyes, together with all who have died in faith in Christ—Don, Betty, and all you who believe in Jesus. And above all we will see our heavenly bridegroom, Jesus, together.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

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