Saturday, January 16, 2016

Laurie Schneider Memorial

Laurie Schneider Memorial

            Family and friends, grace and peace to you from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.  Amen.

            In the 3rd Article of the Apostles’ Creed we confess these wonderful words: I believe…in the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting.

            These are not mere words but they confess what we believe and that we believe what God has promised.  We believe these words because they are made true in Jesus.

            St. Matthew tells how Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb of Jesus on what we call Easter Sunday.  They heard the glorious news from an angel: He is not here; He has risen, just as He said.  Come and see the place where He lay.

            The angels then tell the women to go and give this great news to the disciples.  But before they can complete their task the women meet Jesus.  Jesus greets them and Matthew writes: They came to (Jesus) clasped His feet and worshipped Him.  They touched the risen Jesus.  They held onto Him.  He was real.  He was really alive.  His body, new and glorious.  Jesus knew them.  They knew Jesus.

            St. Luke gives us a long story about how two of Jesus’ followers that Sunday are making a seven mile walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus when they are joined by the risen Lord.  They were kept from recognizing Jesus for a time.  But they were not conversing with a ghost.  This was Jesus.  He was real.  He was really alive.

            In the midst of their confusion about all that had happened the past Friday, Jesus told the two followers how the Christ had to suffer pain and death and then enter into glory.  Using the Scriptures Jesus explained to them everything that was said concerning Himself.

            When they reached Emmaus the two asked Jesus to stay and eat with them.  As they reclined at the table, Jesus took bread with His hands and He broke it and as He gave it to them, the eyes of the disciples were opened and they recognized Jesus.  They saw Him.  His body, new and glorious.  They knew Him.

            St. John gives us, perhaps, the fullest account of the resurrection of Jesus and what happened afterward.  We have the appearance of Jesus to Mary Magdalene and we know that she grabbed Jesus’ feet and held on for dear life.    

            We also have Jesus appearing to the disciples on the second Sunday of Easter.  He shows His body to the doubting Thomas and invites the disciple to touch Him, for Thomas to place his hands upon the Lord’s scars.  And like the others, Thomas saw that Jesus was real.  He was really alive.  His body, new and glorious.  Jesus knew him.  He knew Jesus.

            And in St. John we have the story of the failed fishing expedition on the sea of Galilee.  Jesus stands on shore and in a loud voice tells Peter: Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some (fish).  They make a net-splitting catch and then realize who it is that is calling out to them on shore. 

            In all of the resurrection stories, the risen Jesus is seen.  He has a new glorified body.  He speaks.  He eats.  He breaks bread.  The people knew Jesus.  He knew them. 

            The apostle Paul wrote about the resurrection in the 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians: So it will be with the resurrection of the dead.  The body that was sown is perishable; it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

            And here is further good news as Paul writes to the Philippians: But 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.

            Everything that we read and know about the resurrected Jesus will also be true for all who believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world.  On the Last Day, there will be a resurrection of the dead.  What a day that will be for Laurie Schneider.

            Maynard and Laurie were a sweet couple.  They seemed to become friends with everyone who sat on my left side of the sanctuary.  They found a home here at Life in Christ.  They faithfulness in worship and Bible study was a powerful witness for us all.

            Then came the news – Laurie was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.  And slowly but surely, this hideous disease robed Maynard and family and church family of the real Laurie.

            Over time she couldn’t recognize those friends who sat on my left in the sanctuary.  She wasn’t sure why she was here, wasn’t sure why she was having to stand up and sit down so often, wasn’t sure why she was kneeling at the altar rail. 

            Maynard took on a new role.  He was more than a husband.  He was Laurie’s caregiver.  24 hours a day – 7 days a week.  He did the cooking and the cleaning.  He took Laurie to all of her doctor’s appointments.  Rest wasn’t even rest because he had to be sure he knew where Laurie was at all times.

            Finally, Maynard acquiesced and allowed some dedicated people to help him.  But it was hard.  Laurie, the love of his life, did not even recognize him as her husband.

            After Maynard fell asleep in Jesus, Laurie began living in a memory care unit at Glencroft.  Visiting her was so hard.  Alzheimer’s Disease had robbed Laurie of her memory, her ability to reason and think.  She became more confused, she continually lost some of her things and she did stuff that she would never have done.  We were fearful when we learned that she’d broken a hip.  She didn’t stay long with us after that.  Laurie fell asleep in Jesus on December 30 of last year.

            Today we come to this place with sadness in our hearts.  We mourn her loss.  But God does not leave us on our own.  He comforts us.  God comforts us with His promises.

            Laurie confessed Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior.  She believed that Jesus had come to save sinners like her.  She trusted in Jesus’ Word that he that believes and is baptized shall be saved.  She believed that Jesus rose from the dead, having paid in full her debt to the Father for her disobedience and sin.  She trusted Jesus’ Word that He came to give His life as a ransom for many.  She believed that Jesus had prepared a place for her in heaven.  She trusted Jesus’ word that the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ His Son.

            Now Laurie rests in Christ Jesus.  Alzheimer’s Disease can no longer hurt her.  No more confusion, no more pain for her.  Revelation 14:13 teaches: Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord for now on.  Laurie is blessed.  She is with Jesus and to be with Christ, wrote the Apostle Paul, is better by far.

            It will be this way until the Last Day, Resurrection Day.  And then, according to His promise, Jesus will come again.  He first came in humility, the tiny baby born in Bethlehem.  He will return in power and glory, in heavenly splendor and majesty.  Everyone will know it is the Lord.  There will be no mistaking Jesus’ glorious return. 

            In a manner that only an omnipotent God could carry out, or bodies will be resurrected and our souls will make those bodies our dwelling place again.  These bodies will be new, immortal and incorruptible.  We will be free from weakness, free from those diseases and illnesses that broke our bodies down.   

              And on that grand and amazing day, we will see Laurie.  Like the women who touched Jesus, we will be able to touch and hug her.  Her body will be new and glorious.  We will know her.  She will know us.  As Jesus talked to the Emmaus disciples, we’ll be able to talk with Laurie.  No longer will she be confused.  No longer will she struggle for words.

            Isn’t that a wonderful picture? It’s what you and I have to look forward to.  This eternal life is our possession now.  And the source of all this joy is God.  We will live in the presence of God and the Lamb.  We won’t worry about whether our job is stable or if we have enough money to retire or if the Arizona Cardinals will be able to beat the Green Bay Packers in football this evening.

            We’ll have nothing to worry about.  We’ll have nothing to cry over.  Instead, we’ll lock arms with Laurie and Maynard and all those we loved and turn our hearts and voices to God and cry out with that great multitude: Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns.  Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory!  This is God’s promise to us.  What more can we say but come, Lord Jesus.  Amen.