Carol Ann Lewsley Funeral
May 1, 1927 – January 22, 2014
86 years 8 months 22 days
Text: Romans 10:8-9
There was a wonderful prayer that we prayed together in the family of Incarnate Word congregation on Sunday as well as in the family here yesterday. It is wonderful because it accurately describes our dear Carol when it says:
“Merciful Father, the generations rise and pass away before You. You are the strength of those who labor and the repose of the blessed dead. We give You thanks for all who have lived and died in the faith, especially for Carol, our dear sister. In this body You gave her life and poured out Your Holy Spirit when You washed her in the renewing waters of Holy Baptism. By the same Spirit You led her to confess with her mouth that Jesus is Lord and to believe in her heart that You have raised Christ from the dead….” This prayer reflects the passage in St. Paul’s letter to the Romans that gives the mighty and blessed assurance, saying, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:8-9).
This we could say with confidence and conviction about our dear sister, wife, mother, grand, great-grand and great-great grandmother, Carol. Carol was a faithful Christian wife and mother. But she was also a mighty preacher. For I can imagine that if she heard that prayer of thanksgiving for her faith and witness right now she would immediately have me turn to you, her whole family and friends, and ask, pointedly, “So what about you?” “Do you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead?” “Are you saved?”
She was, of course, known for her take charge, no fooling around attitude. So was she convinced by her faith in the Word and Spirit of God that she was among those who, according to the central doctrine of the Bible, are “justified by God’s grace (alone), through faith (alone) in Christ Jesus (alone)” (Rom 3:24). This is what makes a Christian funeral so great and so comforting because we have God’s Word and promise all over us as it was all over Carol.
Carol tape-recorded the sermon every Sunday. That indicated that she found God’s Word and the preaching of God’s Word to be the necessary food for her faith, the most important thing in life. By that Word we with her journeyed through life, year by year, month by month, but more importantly season by season of the Christian year laid out by God’s Word. The season of Advent is more than just a preparation for Christmas. God’s Word makes us an Advent People, that is, we hear the call of St. John the Baptist and repent of our sins that still cling so closely to us, and believe it when he points to Jesus and calls Him the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Christmas is way more than what the world around us makes it out to be. And it is more than merely the marking of an historical event, as important as that is, the Son of God taking on our human flesh by means of the Holy Spirit of the blessed Virgin Mary. The Word of God makes us a Christmas People, that is, those who realize the earth-shaking reality that there, God has taken on our human flesh, the Creator becoming one with His creation, and, in this way, also lifting and exalting our human nature to share in His divinity, His holiness, love and life.
Epiphany is more than a “filler season” between Christmas and Lent as we heard just this last Sunday and again today, how the Savior came not to wage war against sinners or the world but, in His baptism by John in the Jordan River, to take His place, shoulder to shoulder with us, to so completely identify Himself with us that He could be our perfect substitute fulfilling God’s Law and thereby be the only One qualified also to redeem us, to buy us back by His perfect sacrifice.
That’s what it meant for Carol also to be a Lenten Person. Renewing our baptism and
growing in our faith as outlined in the little catechism, we are taught that to be a Christian does not mean to be a victorious winner every day—not yet in this life—but to be a faithful winner, relying solely on the grace of God through every joy and trial.
Carol was an Easter Person. As we said with St. Paul at the beginning of this service, “if we have been untied with [Christ] in a death like His,” as we surely were and are in our Holy Baptism into His death, “we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His” (Rom 6:3-5).
Such is our hope, and that’s what we celebrate today. And, asks Carol, we hope to celebrate on your last day!
There is one season left. The long, green season of Pentecost when, over the summer months, we do not need to go to Texas for warmth or for golf. So is life a long season of repeated repentance and faith, of committed discipleship and faithfulness to God’s Word and Sacraments, the means of His grace toward us. Life is a long, green season of God’s blessing of children and grandchildren, of blessings of work and service in God’s name, of celebrations of God’s grace every day, every Sunday, every season, every year, and also of His 60 plus years of blessing of that holy and sacred union of marriage.
I can hear Carol saying to me right now, “now you make sure to preach Jesus Christ, and to remind people that faith in Jesus is the only way, the only way not only to face death and look forward to eternal life, but also to deal with the darkness that is always around us; to deal with our mourning over death.” It is right that we should mourn over the seemingly final blow of death right now. It’s okay. Because death is called by the Bible, after all, “the last enemy.” But we can mourn without despair because…Carol?…because “we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead.” Therefore, Carol, you and I “will be saved.”