BY REV. BOB VAAGE
MILFORD FIRST LUTHERAN CHURCH
One week ago I preached the sermon at my Aunt Linda's funeral at Trinity Lutheran in Mason City. My aunt had been fighting a battle with pulmonary fibrosis for over three years and she requested that I preach at her funeral. This was not an easy assignment, but I considered it a great honor since she was like a second mother to me growing up.
Because I loved her and knew her so well, I found it difficult to condense everything I wanted to say in just a 20 minute sermon. I mean, how can you possibly capture the essence of a person and tell that person's life story in one short sermon? It's impossible.
But something needed to be spoken. Family and friends traveled great distances to be present at her funeral service and they came to remember. They came to reflect and give thanks to God for the special memories and to recount the many ways Linda touched our lives.
And so I shared some stories in my message. Some stories made us laugh and others made us cry. But after each one, we could all say, "yes, that was Linda." I also said that Linda will remain alive in our hearts as we remember together and share many of the stories that reflect her values, her convictions and the things that were most important to her.
This funeral service for my beloved aunt helped me to reflect more seriously on the power of remembering. In the Bible, there are 63 verses that speak to the value of remembering and/or not forgetting the many great things God has done for us throughout the centuries. I love those words from I Chronicles 16:15: "Remember His covenant forever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations."
This passage reminds us that each generation waits eagerly to hear a word about God. Each generation looks to the one that came before to tell the stories and share the memories. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised his disciples that the Holy Spirit would come after his death and resurrection to help the new born Church remember. In John 14 Jesus said, "the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you."
The Holy Spirit came at Pentecost to keep Jesus' memory alive. The Holy Spirit's work among us today is to help us remember what Jesus taught and to inspire us to live His life in this time and place. Jesus no longer walks around like he did on the shores of Galilee, but he is alive and well, speaking to us through his promise and His Spirit.
May this Pentecost season be a time to remember! May God's Holy Spirit enlighten our minds to better understand all the many promises Jesus gave to us and to tell his story to anyone willing to listen. It may be hard to share everything that needs to be said about Jesus, but let's say something. Let's begin to tell his story and in the process, let the people around us better understand his great love for all people.