Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sermon for Betty Jo Droeg Memorial Service

Betty Jo Droeg Memorial
Martin Luther once said that a thankful heart was the greatest form of worship we could offer to God.
If that is true, then Betty Jo turned a hospital room into a worship center last Friday, November 13.
John Denninger asked if a pastor could go visit Betty Jo at the rehab hospital at Arrowhead.  I was the guy who was contacted.  And I’m glad I was.
I’ve made hospital visits to people I did not know.  It’s in those times when you’re not sure what to expect.  How will the person be feeling? Do they want to be visited? Will they want to talk or will I have to carry the conversation along?
I quickly discovered, as I talked with Betty Jo, that I had no reason to worry.  She welcomed me warmly and was glad I came.  She shared with me about her physical problems.  She hoped to return home soon.
We talked about her husband and what it was like to be a widow.  She spoke about how much she loved her family. 
We also talked about some spiritual concerns she had.  We discussed the importance of forgiveness, remembering that as God has forgiven us for the sins we’ve committed, we, too, are to forgive those who have sinned against us.  We remembered the price Jesus paid to be our Savior, dying on the cross to pay the price for our disobedience and faithlessness.  We rejoiced that God’s salvation is free and that everyone who embraces Jesus, by faith, has eternal life.
As we wrapped up our conversation I asked her if she wanted me to come back and bring my communion kit and she excitedly said, “Yes.”  I promised to see her again.  I’d planned on visiting this past Thursday.
Except that when I called to find out what time I could come as see Betty Jo, the hospital said she’d been discharged.  I thought that was good news! But I soon learned it was anything but good news.
Via a text, Middy told me Betty Jo had been discharged so that she could be admitted to Arrowhead Hospital.  Her health was quickly declining.  Could I come over?
I did so and it was sad to see how much Betty Jo had slipped in just a week.  Middy told me that she had not always been responsive but when I called out to her, she recognized who I was.  I told her I was sorry that she had to be in the hospital. And I expressed again to her how much I had enjoyed our earlier visit and how wonderful it was that I could share the love of Jesus with her.
Then Betty Jo spoke.  Three words.  She said them over and over.  “Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you, Jesus.”
It was like a litany.  It was a litany of thanksgiving offered to the one most worthy of our thanks and praise, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Betty Jo’s response was not unlike a man who we can read about in the Bible – we find him in St. Luke, chapter 17.
Verse 11 starts out: “Now on His way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee.”  The fact that Jesus was anywhere near the region of Samaria is a huge surprise.  The folks there didn’t like Jewish people.  Jewish people hated Samaritans.  If you were a Jew and traveling from Galilee to Jerusalem, you avoided going anywhere near Samaria.  Why was Jesus so bold?  Here’s why.
Listen to verses 12-13: “As He was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met Him.  They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
Leprosy, in the time of Jesus, was like having a death sentence placed on your head.  There was no cure for this horrible, disfiguring disease.  The ten men stood at a distance because if you were a leper you were not allowed to come close to anyone.  You lived away from the village, away from family and friends.  You lived until you died.
What does Jesus do? He does what He always does for sincere, hurting people.  He answered their prayer.  He told them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.”  And as they went, they were cleansed.  Healed.  Free of the horrible disease.
All ten men had their prayer answered by Jesus.  But only one came back to thank Him for the miraculous healing that had taken place.  Listen to verses 15 & 16: “One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.  He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him – and he (the man at Jesus’ feet) was a Samaritan.
The least likely is the only one who comes back to worship Jesus and to give Him thanks for being made whole again.  And I can just imagine the man, kneeling in the dirt, holding Jesus around His ankles, repeating over and over, “Thank you, Jesus,  Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you, Jesus.”
Just like Betty Jo.
It was if a floodgate had been opened in that hospital room.  Her thanks to Jesus came cascading over us, leaving Middy in tears and me in awe.
It all came out and I believe Betty Jo was thanking Jesus for:
            Salvation…Mark 10:45 – “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
            Forgiveness…Ephesians 1:7 – “In (Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of His grace.”
            Eternal Life…John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
I believe Betty Jo was thanking Jesus for His steadfast love, His gifts of grace, His inexhaustible patience and mercy.
I also believe that Betty Jo knew exactly how ill she was and that Jesus was truly her only hope, her only comfort in her time of need. 
What more can a person say but “Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you, Jesus.”
After Middy had to leave I stayed for a while longer and I sang some songs about Jesus to Betty Jo.  “Jesus loves me.”  “What a friend we have in Jesus.”  “I am Jesus’ little lamb.”  “My hope is built on nothing less.”  And it was wonderful – she sang with me, she sang with a heart filled with faith in the Lord’s promises.
When I left I said to Betty Jo, “I’ll see you later.”  And that is true.
I didn’t see her again before she passed into the arms of Jesus.  But I will see her again.
I will see Betty Jo on “Judgment Day”, or as I like to call it, “Resurrection Day.”
On that day, Jesus will come again, in all His magnificent glory.  All who are dead will be raised to life.  He will judge the living and the dead.  Those that believed in Jesus and trusted Him for forgiveness and eternal life will be gathered up and taken to heaven.  And those who rejected Jesus as Savior will spend an eternity apart from God.
So I’ll see Betty Jo again.  We’ll talk.  We’ll hug.  I pray that I’ll see you there too.

We’ll be gathered around the throne of God, offering our worship and praise.
And Betty Jo has given me the words to say once I enter those heavenly gates – “Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you, Jesus.  Thank you, Jesus.”  Amen. 

Pastor George Spicer

November 18, 2015