Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Mom's Funeral Sermon

Carolyn Lindner…Hebrews 13:14

What a blessing was this Christian lady! When the Lord our God begins to gather for Himself a covenant people, the Lord calls a man named Abraham. To this man the Lord God promises, I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless you in order that you may be a blessing. The Lord our God intends that to be a description of all of His people. It certainly is an apt description of Carolyn. She was blessed to be a blessing, and she was a blessing.

Through her marriage to Ernest Lindner, Carolyn became the wife of a pastor. Thus as he moved, accepting calls to serve in six different places, Carolyn, and you also Karl, also moved. Carolyn was a blessing in Lyndhurst, New Jersey and Roanoke, Virginia, in Peekskill, New York, and Accident, Maryland, in Houston, Texas and finally here in Greenwood, Indiana. In all those places she found numerous ways in which to be a blessing. Last week we completed with our older adults and the children of our Day School the filling of shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. For several years Carolyn helped organize and process this special benefit that through Samaritan’s Purse gives hope and joy and a shoebox of little gifts to children around the world. Blessings don’t necessarily come in large ways or in gigantic boxes. A small shoebox provides a tremendous blessing when you have little or nothing. We don’t always need to be doing the large projects or be seen standing in front and leading persons to be a blessing. Many of the things Carolyn did around here after the Lindners moved up from Texas were not the out-in-front of people kinds of things, but rather the smaller, behind-the-scenes kinds of things. But they are still blessings. As the Lord God directed Abraham, so he directs all His people: I will bless you that you might be a blessing. Carolyn was a blessing.

Carolyn was born in Bayonne, New Jersey and baptized at Grace Lutheran Church there. She was confirmed at St John’s Lutheran in Williston Park, New York, a village in Nassau County on Long Island. From there she graduated from Mineola High School and later earned a degree from Luther College in Teaneck, New Jersey. Those places all sound a little foreign to us Midwesterners, but Bayonne and Williston Park and Teaneck are all located around New York City. Carolyn was born and raised around “the city” as she called it. She loved the city. I’m not sure she would want to go back and live any more in the places she’d grown up in, because the city of New York and all those places have changed so much since the forties, fifties and sixties when she lived there, but she still loved the city.

God’s Word uses that picture to point us to Him and our heavenly home. The Word of our God reminds us that here in this place and in this life, we do not have an enduring city, but, says Hebrews 13:14 “we are looking for the city that is to come.” Says St Paul to the Philippians, “Our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

Certainly it was our prayer and would have been our prayer that her mantle cell lymphoma would have responded to treatment better and her years here with you as family and with us as her Christian family might have lasted for a while longer. 71 years is not that old. Yet today’s newspaper will print the names of those who have died, some having lived significantly longer than Carolyn, others who lived quite a few years less than Carolyn. We do not know the number of our days. But we do know the promises of God. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, writes the psalmist, “and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” That’s the city that is to come, the place we in faith are looking forward to as we dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

After services here at Calvary on Sunday, October 30th, I stopped by room 603 where Carolyn was hospitalized at St Francis Beech Grove. She’d been feeling discomfort and pain, and while trying to stay at home, it became necessary for her to be admitted back to St Francis. Though receiving medication it was obvious Carolyn still was most uncomfortable. Because of the medication she was dozing in and out during our brief visit, although she still tried to visit. One of the things she said during that brief visit was, I don’t know whether I’m going to get out of this place or not. She didn’t say it with fear; she didn’t say it with remorse or anxiety or regret. She just stated that from where she was in that bed and with the pain she had and the treatments she’d already been through, she just didn’t know if she’d get healthy enough to return home.

Carolyn, whether directly or indirectly, was already looking for the city that is to come. Carolyn was a Christian lady, a child of God, one who lived by faith and trusted in her Lord and Savior, just as we do. “God is our refuge and strength, declares Psalm 46, “an ever-present help in trouble.” In faith, and in the midst of her pain, she knew the one who is ever-present with His people, the Lord our God, our refuge and our strength. This is the One who led her through life, the One who fed her with His Word and with His Sacrament, the One who loved her with an everlasting love, the One who gathered her to Himself very suddenly last Saturday morning.

Born on May 6, 1940 Carolyn was the oldest daughter born to Harold and Edna (McVeigh) Scholz in Bayonne, New Jersey. This was a Christian family and Carolyn was made a member of the Lord’s family through the washing of baptism at Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church there in Bayonne. As she was baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, the Lord God, her refuge and strength and her Good Shepherd proclaimed, You are mine now, Carolyn. You are a part of my family, this household of faith, this community of saints. I died for you, and through faith in me you are now part of my eternal family. Operation Grace Child brought to Carolyn by her heavenly Father.

Fourteen years later, having just celebrated her fourteenth birthday, standing before the congregation of God’s people at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran in Williston Park on Long Island, New York, Carolyn publicly professed this Christian faith as her own confession. She was confirmed on May 23, 1954 by Pastor Ernest Sherer. Carolyn’s confirmation verse is 1 Timothy 6:12: “Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

The good fight of faith continued throughout Carolyn’s life for she lived by faith and walked with her Lord Jesus Christ. On August 8, 1971 she married Pastor Ernest Lindner, and son, Karl, was born to them on February 27, 1974. We gathered here on February 21, 2008 to give thanks to the Lord for the life and faith of Carolyn’s husband and your father, Karl. He also, as your mom, was in the 71st year of his life when he went home to be with his Lord and Savior.

That’s what we remember today, that we all are on a journey. As followers of Jesus Christ we believe that this not our final home. We look forward toward that city of God, that place called heaven where our Lord and Savior has set aside a place for all who trust and believe in him. In Revelation 21 we are given that picture of the city of God as that place where the Lord God comes to dwell with His people. He is in their midst, making all things new.

That day when Carolyn took hold of eternal life came on Saturday, but it was a gift that the Lord had bestowed upon her in His grace many years earlier and many times since then. This day, today, is not the final step in this life, and Carolyn knew that. The Lord had called her by His grace, washing her in the waters of regeneration and pouring His mercy, forgiveness and love upon her heart and life again and again. We take hold of eternal life because the Lord first takes hold of us through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus.

All of us will stand before the judgment seat of God. He will review all the days of our life. Our eternity in heaven or our eternity in hell rests at that point in His hands. There is nothing I can hide from Him, nothing I can change before Him. I have fallen short. I am guilty before the Almighty. We all have fallen short. We all are guilty before Him. This Christian lady knew that also.

That’s why she readily confessed Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, the One who forgives all our sins, the One who takes that guilt to himself on the cross at Calvary, the one who stands victorious on Easter morning and always as the conqueror of death and sin, the One who stands with all those who believe in Him when we stand before the judgment seat of God. Through faith in Christ alone we confidently proclaim-I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

We walk now in that same faith, clinging to Christ Jesus in faith and trust, knowing that through Him we shall be joined together once again as the saints above. Until then we rejoice in His blessing to us through His Son, for in Jesus Christ He continues to call us. He calls us to fight the good fight of faith. He calls us to take hold of the eternal life to which He has called us. He calls us to be a blessing even as He has blessed us to be His very own through Jesus Christ, our Savior. And in His precious name. Amen.