Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lebanon, OR
Christian Funeral of Rachel Fannie Vogel – July 15, 2017
Text: John 14:25-27
In the Name + of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Rachel was a beloved mother, grandmother, and even great grandmother. One of the things many people have noticed is that she was also a woman of great faith. In her life, she made it clear how important her Lord Jesus Christ was to her. Even lately, with her hearing gone and her eyesight failing, she would still faithfully read her Lord’s Word. The Word was planted in her heart and grew, watered by Pastor Ted Vogel when he instructed and confirmed her in the Christian faith. She passed that Word of God down to her children, so that they too might know Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God.
Because of the faith Rachel had, she also had a peace about her. It was a peace that supported her through many ups and downs in her life. Her faith anchored her wherever she lived, whether in Alaska, Hawaii, or back in Sweet Home. Her faith bound her to the Lord she loved, and He supported her as she and Evan raised their children. The Lord of her life was her strength as she worked in different fields, and even as she served Him in retirement. In later years, as her health declined, Rachel continued to have peace, as she mourned Evan’s passing and later Ted’s. She saw her health decline slowly, and the ability to hear music, which she loved so much, was taken away. But that peace which her Lord had given her remained.
Was it because Rachel lived such a faithful life that God blessed her with such peace? No, it was definitely the other way around. God blessed her out of His fatherly grace and mercy. For even though she was the matriarch of her family and attained 100 years, she was also sinner. She said so every time I met with her, and it amazed her that the Lord was so good to her. All that she had was a gift from God, even the very faith that anchored her. What a gift that was, because she was able to praise Him in the bad times just as well as the good.
Listen to the words of Rachel’s Lord and yours:
25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
It was the Holy Spirit who taught Rachel to know Jesus Christ, and the Spirit who gave her the faith to cling to Him. In all the words that the Lord speaks, He bestows peace. Even now that sin has done its worst and taken her earthly life from her, Rachel still has peace.
It’s not peace the way the world gives peace. The world’s peace requires everything to be going well on the outside—health, finances, and no conflict. But the peace which the Lord gives is the peace of sins forgiven, the peace of removing the fear of death, and the peace that Jesus has done all things so that she now rests in the Lord’s presence now.
With that peace, a believer need not worry nor be afraid because the precious Lord has taken away the weight of sin and the sting of death. He went before us and already bore that weight—all that Rachel and you and I justly deserved. In exchange, Rachel and you and I receive all the merits of Jesus as a gift through faith.
Rachel still has that peace, but we must continue on until we’ve attained the promised eternal life. If you want that faith and peace which Rachel had, stay near to the Lord. Hear His Word and trust in it. Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the Name of the Lord Jesus and you will have that Spirit-worked peace in your hearts. That’s a peace that will sustain you through everything in this passing life and continue to be yours eternally.
God grant you this peace, in the Name + of Jesus. Amen.