Summary: A sermon for the 11 Sunday after Pentecost, proper 12, series A, based on Paul’s letter to the Romans
11th Sunday after Pentecost [Pr. 12] July 27, 2008 “Series A”
Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, through your Son, the Word become flesh, you have revealed your steadfast love and faithfulness to our sinful world. Through the power of your Holy Spirit, open our hearts and minds to receive your living Word, and empower us to trust that nothing in this world can separate us from your redeeming grace, in Jesus the Christ. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. Amen.
It was a privilege for me to have known Ada. She was a member of my former parish, and was one of the most beautiful persons I have ever known. She was advanced in years, in her late seventies or early eighties when I came to serve as her pastor. She never owned a car, and so she spent most of her days within walking distance of her home, which was a little less than a quarter mile from the church.
It was a huge house, badly in need of repair, but she basically lived in only one room, keeping the rest closed off to save on fuel. In that room there was an old gas range; a sink with a hand pump attached, from which she drew water; an old wooden table with three chairs; a small gas furnace she used for heat; and a day-bed on which to sit and sleep. She also had a radio, a large print Bible that was well worn, but no TV. It was obvious to me that she didn’t have much money, and eked out a living from whatever she received from Social Security.
Ada never missed a Sunday at worship, unless she was ill, even when she had to walk through deep snow to get there. She had one of the most pleasing personalities, and I can honestly say that I never heard her speak a bad word about anyone.
But she did have one habit that really bothered me. At Christmas and Easter, and a few other times during the year, Ada would greet me at the door on her way out of worship, and palm a fifty or hundred dollar bill into my hand and whisper, “Get something nice for your children.” It would always bring tears to my eyes. For here was a woman who had so little by today’s standards, and yet, from what little she had, she gave in love.
Ada became seriously ill. She acquired an inoperable stomach cancer. I visited her often in that one room of her large house. But as she neared the end of her life, she was hospitalized, which seemed to upset her. On my last visit with her, I took her communion.
As a part of the service, a portion of our second lesson from Paul’s letter to the Romans was read. Listen again to these words: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
When I finished reading the lesson, Ada looked up at me, with tears in her eyes, and asked, “Pastor Ron, do you truly believe this to be true?”
I took her hand and said, “Yes, Ada. I certainly do.”
Ada then blinked at me and said, “Well, if not even death can separate me from the love of Christ, a love I have tried to share all of my life, then I guess that I can just trust God to see me through this ordeal.” And with those words of hers, I could see a sense of peace come over her. We finished the service and our visit, and that night, I received a phone call, informing me that Ada had died. She had placed her life into the hands of God’s love, in Jesus the Christ, and died in peace.
I think of Ada every time I read this lesson. And every time I read it during a home communion, I secretly pray that God’s Spirit might grant the assurance of God’s love and grace through these words and the sacrament to everyone who receives it.
Erik Stadler, in his comments on this text, made several comments that I would like to share with you. “To be loved is a desire we all have. We desire to have that comfort and warmth around us. A child blossoms and feels secure when he or she knows their parents love them. Where would many of us be without the support and care and, most importantly, the