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LaVerna Roeber Funeral

February 10, 2014

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Monday of Epiphany 5                                                     Trinity Lutheran Church

10 February 2014                                                               Murdock, NE

Funeral of LaVerna Roeber



+Jesu Juva +

Hebrews 10:35-36  “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”


On June 24, 1934, Pastor Krey gave teenage LaVerna this text as her confirmation verse.  It’s a very appropriate text for a young Christian to hear.  And to live by. An exhortation to remain faithful.  To persevere.  To be confident in the Lord’s PROMISE of salvation for her in His Good Friday bloody death on the cross.


You know, a confirmation day is dicey business.  On that day by Pastor Krey asked LaVerna salvation-at-stake questions like:


Do you renounce the devil, all his works and all his ways like you did at your Baptism?  Her answer was: “Yes, I renounce.”  Turning your back on the devil – that’s risky.  But to formally and publicly reject Satan – that’s especially precarious.  Talk about making a dangerous enemy.  Well, her Baptism into Christ’s death was bearing much fruit in her life.  So much so that LaVerna’s faith in Jesus audaciously dared to tell Satan:  “Get behind me!  I follow Jesus!”


Then Pastor Krey asked LaVerna:  Do you believe in the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit?  Her answer was:  “Yes, I believe” in the three parts of the Apostles’ Creed that faithfully confesses what the Scripture teaches.  God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Three Persons – One God! 


No generic, Unitarian, or anti-trinitarian “god” for her.  No replacing the specific Triune Name put on her in Holy Baptism with an innovative, progressive, or politically correct name.  She knew that if you change God’s Triune Name to something you invent or like better, then you’re not a Christian anymore.  So she confidently confessed God as triune — the Holy Trinity!  The Father who created her.  The Son, Jesus Christ, the God-man, who redeemed her with His most holy divine Good Friday blood.  The Holy Spirit who called her to faith in Jesus by the Gospel and holied or sanctified her in the washing of rebirth and renewal (Titus 3:5-6).


Then came two more questions from Pastor Krey.  Do you intend to live according to the Word of God, and in faith, word and deed to remain true to God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, EVEN TO DEATH?


Do you intend to continue steadfast in this confession and Church and to suffer all, EVEN DEATH, rather than fall away from it?


Her answer to both questions was a confident:  “I do, by the grace of God.”


So here we are.  At the EVEN TO DEATH point!


LaVerna’s Baptism in the Triune Name bore fruit in her life up to the EVEN TO DEATH point.  And so did her confirmation text.  She “did not throw away her confidence” in Christ who died for her, repented her and forgave all her sin.  She “persevered” through much earthly trouble and trial. Losing her husband Leonard.  Suffering from arthritis, shuffling around, falling, heart trouble.  Confined to the nursing home.  So desperately wanting to come to church but physically not able to.


Even on Monday morning, as the sleep of death grew closer, her faith in the Holy Trinity did not waver.  No “throwing away” her “confidence.”  As I sang the hymn “Abide With Me” LaVerna sang part of it from memory with me.  Especially the words of the last stanza:  “In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.” She persevered.       


After all, the Lord was always with her.  Through thick and thin.  Good times and bad.  Because He put His Name on her in Holy Baptism with the promise:  “Lo I am with you always.”


Did you hear that?  “Always!” That’s the Lord’s promise.  The Lord to whom all authority in heaven and on earth is given by the Father.  “Always” He promised!   So too at the EVEN TO death point.


Confident LaVerna was.  Trusting God’s promises.  Ready to receive the bounty of the Lord’s pledges. Like the “reward” or gift of heaven and eternal life for her, a died-for, forgiven sinner.  With St. Paul, LaVerna longed to “depart and be with Christ which is better by far,” (Philippians 1:23).


No kidding!  To finally be rid of her sinful nature! For the life-long battle against sin to come to an end!  For the ravages of what is old to come to a conclusion.  She was always saying that she was ready.  Ready to go home — to heaven as a forgiven for Christ’s sake sinner!


And that’s precisely what she has.  According to the Lord’s promise.  Listen.  “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God,” Jesus said.  “Trust also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms; … I am going there to prepare a place for you,” (John 14:1-2).  I wonder what her room looks like.  She’s probably decorating it with paintings of Nebraska farms as well as ceramic figurines of roosters and hens.  Getting all sorts of decorative advice from her friends in heaven Dorothy Thimgahn and Sylvia Klemme.


The Lord had much good use for LaVerna in this life in numerous ways for which we are thankful.  One in particular was her faith in Jesus.  She clung tenaciously to His promise that we heard earlier:  “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die,” (John11:25-26).


Who would believe such a promise?  LaVerna did.  All her life as her Baptism continued to bear fruit.


Today, at the EVEN TO DEATH point I beg you to not throw away your “confidence” in the Lord’s promises.  For enemy death is defeated!  Jesus has risen!  Jesus has changed death into a peaceful sleep.  So, as we go out to the cemetery in a few moments, we will do what Lisa did every night for the last few years – tuck her mother into her bed.  In the full and complete confidence of a resurrection morning – the Last Day – when Jesus hands out the gracious and undeserved “reward” of the resurrection of the body in which He completes the bounty of Holy Baptism.


Hebrews 10:35-36  “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”


Good words for you too.  Especially at this EVEN TO DEATH point.  After all, that moment will come to you too – some sooner – some later.


How will you face that EVEN TO DEATH point?  Here’s how!  With Jesus as the Lord who lords His death over all your sin, death, and hell!


He makes all the difference!  For Jesus, sent by the Father and revealed by the Spirit in these last days, is the Lord.  He is the crucified and risen Lord for you!  Just like He is for LaVerna!


His promises are certain and sure.  He is the resurrection and the life!  As such He promises:  “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,” (Mark 16:16).  LaVerna certainly is!


In the Name of Jesus.


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