Summary: This is a funeral sermon for a very faithful baptized child of God, age 96, who lived her faith and served her Lord in this world, but not according to her works was she saved, only by the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ––a planting of the Lord, an oak of
O Come All Ye Faithful
December 14, 2010 • Romans 8:31-39 & LSB379
Grace and peace to you in the name our our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
O Come All Ye Faithful, Joyful and Triumphant! Because of Jesus, we will someday be joyful as we gaze upon his face. And we shall enter into his presence triumphant, not because of what we have done, but because of what he has done for us!
Emma Elizabeth Kugler, a baptized child of God, was born September 29, 1914. She was also confirmed in her faith at Asphult Lutheran Church as God’s love and Spirit resided in her. Emma pursued her educational studies, received training as an ex-ray technician, and after being certified in her field worked at Bethesda Hospital in Crookston, MN, Dakota Clinic in Fargo, ND, and the Medical Arts Clinic in St. Paul, MN. In 1957, she married Leo Kugler, sharing the workload as they operated a dairy farm here in Friberg Township; later going back to work as an ex-ray technician at the Fergus Falls State Hospital until 1985.
Whether farming, milking cows, feeding and caring for loved ones, or working outside of the home––Emma was a hard worker and dedicated wife. Emma was also an active member of St. Paul Lutheran, her faith evident to those around her. I first met Emma when she was a resident of the Broen Home. We talked of life and her faith in Jesus Christ. She was always happy when I came to visit, and always had something to share.
At times Emma struggled with her health, but she was a fighter––in a good way, I mean. She’d never let ill health get the better hand, and surprised me several times after only a brief stay in the hospital, where she was both known and well liked. Emma was an inspiration to many, but she knew that all the credit went to her Lord and Savior Jesus, who died and rose for her.
O Come Ye, O Come Ye to Bethlehem. Did you know that the Hebrew word Bethlehem means “house of bread’? In Micah 5:2 we read, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” Jesus was born in Bethlehem as foretold in scripture. But Jesus himself is the bread of life, that house of bread to whom we are invited to come!
Our Lord tells us in John, chapter 6, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” And also in John 6:48-50, our Lord again says, “I am that bread of life... This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.” As a baptized believer we, like Emma, are not only buried with Christ to be raised with him to everlasting life, we are sustained in life, renewed and redeemed by Christ’s body and blood––that which he shed for us upon the cross.
Come and Behold Him Born the King of Angels. At Christmas we behold our Lord in a manger, the Child who is our King––the very reason for the season. But we also join with the angels in celebration at the Advent of our King, when He will come again.
Today, we heard Isaiah speak of the year of our Lord’s favor when our Father in heaven will give “the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that [we] may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” Our Lord plants us, as His redeemed and righteous saints, to tell others of his good news of life and salvation He even gives us a garment of praise, rather than a faint spirit. We are not only justified in Christ Jesus, we are sanctified in His Spirit of boldness!
And in the gospel reading we hear our Lord Jesus speak of when He will return in glory, and he will gather us together and say, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Emma is now receiving that inheritance, as she rejoices with the angels.
You know, when our youth group went Christmas caroling, Emma was all aglow. We sang to her, perhaps not in the most angelic of tones––especially when we tried to sing “O, Come, All Ye Faithful”, because the music we used wasn’t the familiar tune we sang today. I felt kind of bad about that. But it didn’t matter to Emma. She smiled anyway, as if the children were an angelic choir––like the one the night of our Savior’s birth, like the one she’s enjoying right now in heaven!