Messiah Lutheran Church 6201 W Patterson Av
Chicago IL 60634

August 2018

Happily Ever After

Note: In honor of Carol Mahler, charter member of Messiah, and long-time contributor of articles for Messiah Matters, the following are my notes for the homily I preached for her Homegoing Celebration:

Before I got to know Carol as her pastor here at Messiah, the first impression 1 had of her was from an article she had written for the monthly Messiah Matters.

The topic of her article was about going to the Arlington Race Track, and betting on the horses.

But within this same article, Carol she expressed her thanksgiving £)1" God's creation, of enjoying the fresh air, and the seeirig the beautiful flowers planted on the grounds in front of the entrances.

Of course, she also wrote about how happy would be when she 'would pick the winning horse!

And over the years of reading more of Carol's articles and getting to know her, I discovered that Carol, with the help of the Holy Spirit, would always emphasize the bigger picture of God as her Heavenly Father and her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

For realistically, ever since the fall of man, Carol's and our lives,' stories aren't always filled with cute stories and pleasant memories,

As Moses expresses in Psalm 90, "The years of our life are seventy or even by reason of strength eighty, yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone and we flyaway" (vs. 10)

Solomon towards the end of his life, as his death bed confession, was inspired by God the Holy Spirit to write the book of Ecclesiastes, where he describes all the various ironies and injustices of this earthly life.

But at the very end, he reminds us of the Big picture.

"Now all has been heard;
        here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
        for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
        including every hidden thing,
        whether it is good or evil." (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

And this is the same wisdom that Carol received, as well, as a born again child of God.

The understanding that a life lived under the "SUN" is vanity. But a life lived under the "SON" of God, as one's Lord and Savior is filled with meaning and hope, in spite of all its injustices, ironies, and not so pleasant stories and memories.

So, even though she may have had many questions in her earthly life. "Why me's?", "I never thought this would happen to me?" She was ablle to overcome any doubts she may have had of Gods' love for her in her Savior, by remembering the big picture:

That she had been born again by the water and the Spirit when she was baptized into Christ's death and raised to new life in His resurrection on February zs", 1930.

And that He who had begun a good work in her would bring into completion.

And so in her dying moments, she was able to join me in confessing the faith she had been baptized in, in the Words of the Apostles' Creed.

That she affirmed on her confirmation day, on Paul Sunday, Apdl18th, 1943, as she confessed her faith in God the Father as her Creator, God the Son as her Savior, and God the Holy Spirit as her Sanctifier.

And joined me in the Lord's Prayer, saying to her heavenly father, as dear child asks her dear father, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven", knowing she was in the loving nail-scarred hands of the one who had willingly suffered and died on the cross for the forgiveness of all her sins.

And three days later He would rise again from the grave, giving Carol and all who believe in Him, the sure hope that though was about to die, she would live, again.

Only this time she will be raised with a glorified body that will be imperishable.

In 1 Corinthians 15, St. Paul writes if Christ had not been raised, our lives would read like a tragedy (vs. 13-14), born to live in a fallen world with sin and its consequences, only to die.

But because of the resurrection, Carol's life's story now reads, "she lived happily ever after".

For although we lay Carol's perishable body to rest this day, she has been given the victory over sin, death and the grave, through her Lord Jesus Christ!

Carol was 'a charter member of Messiah, and her baptismal faith was nourished in her regular attendance in worship.

As well as through a variety of fellowship groups she was a part of: The Ladies Aid, Young at Heart, and was even the secretary of the bowling league, where she had a 150 average!

And she especially enjoyed the kids, and had been a Sunday School teacher at Messiah.

Messiah was like a second home to Carol, and she loved the worship services, and the variety of music.

But above all she treasured above all hearing the Gospel message proclaimed and sung, and receiving Christ's body and blood in, and with and under the elements of bread and wine, where she would be reminded on a regular basis of the big picture.

That In spite of all of life's ups and downs, twists and turns.

The good times that would write about in her monthly Messiah Matters articles, such as finally witnessing her beloved Cubs win the World Series in 2106.

The sad times, such as her failing health in the latter days of her life.

As well as the in between times.

That above all the most precious gift she had been given in her life, her pearl of Great Price, worth selling everything else for, was her beautiful Savior!

And knowing that even though she was a sinner, redeeming her not with silver or gold, but with his holy, innocent, precious blood.

Therefore, she could be assured of God's unconditional love for her, no matter what she was going through, and that He would see to it that everything would turn out "OK" in the end.

I'm told that Carol didn't really like the long, dark days of Chicago winters . And so it's appropriate that she would transition to heaven on the longest day of the year, symbolizing the etemallight that she is enjoying now in heaven.

As Revelation 22:5 describes:

"There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever."

This promise is not only for Carol, but for all who join her in confessing the same saving faith she had in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit And so rather than saying our good-byes to Carol this day, instead, we are saying our, "Auf Wiedersehens" and "See you laters"!

As we keep in mind the wisdom Solomon expressed. The same wisdom Carol had . come to know, as well, as her baptismal faith was nourished through 'Word and Sacrament at Messiah.

That amidst all of life's moments, good times, bad times, and in between times, we do not fail to keep the big picture in mind:

"Now all has been heard;
        here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
        for this is the duty of all mankind.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
        including every hidden thing,
        whether it is good or evil." (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

Thus, ensuring, that our life, like Carol's will end reading, "and they lived happily ever after".

Because He Lives!
Pastor Wendt

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