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A Memorial Service Sermon for Evie Tiemann. May 7, 2022

May 9, 2022

This sermon was preached at the memorial service for Evie Tiemann at Grace Lutheran Church (River Forest, IL) on Saturday, May 7. You can view both the service and the bulletin.

Leslie, Kara, Nate, Margot; family and friends; sisters and brothers in Christ, grace be unto you and peace in the name God the Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

  1. I first got to really know Evie on a bus. We had flown overnight from Chicago – not the sort of situation conducive to restful sleep – but still had a bus ride of several hours to get to Martin, Slovakia. Evie, however, was wide awake. There was, after all, life to be lived. Conversations to be had. So, we sat in back-to-back seats, as she asked questions of my life and shared some of her story with me. It was there, as we wound our way through a rolling, wooded landscape that I learned of Evie’s passions – dancing and reading, teaching and eating, her family and her friends. And most of all, her faith. By the time we got to Marten, I had come to know what many of you have known for even longer. Evie’s life was full of life. In fact, over breakfast this morning, Erika said, “I didn’t know how old Evie was when we were on that trip, but I know that when I’m that age I want to be just like her!”
  2. Death is never easy when it comes for one we love, but it blindsides us when one who is so full of life is taken too soon. And 79 years were not enough for us to have Evie among us. Her absence in our community is keenly felt, and so is our grief. We come here this morning wishing things were different.
  3. Our gospel reading speaks to such felt absence and profound grief today. Mary and Martha are in deep mourning for their brother, Lazarus. Lord, Martha says to Jesus when he arrives, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. Martha knows as well as the rest of us that death is a part of life, but in her grief, she can’t help yearning that things were otherwise. How will they go one without Lazarus?
  4. How do we go on without Evie? Very early in the pandemic, I was on the phone with Evie about a ministry to make sure that seniors had groceries and other essentials. I thought I was talking to Evie about the possibility of someone bring groceries to her. It quickly dawned on me, however, that Evie was having a conversation with me about her bringing groceries to others! That was Evie, always looking for ways to care for others. This gift of the Spirit led her to Stephen Ministry, through which her passion for helping others bear the burdens of this life was put to use for the sake of God’s Kingdom.
  5. We gather today in grief and mourning, but we also know where Jesus was on that last night at Rush Hospital. Jesus was not absent. He was there with us as we cried together and prayed over dear Evie. Even then, we felt keenly the promise in which Evie lived her life, the promise of Jesus who is the resurrection and the life. This One, this Christ, who promises that even though we die, we shall live. So it was for Lazarus. So it is for Evie. So shall it be for us.
  6. We come to the tomb with heavy hearts, but we discover the tomb already empty, Easter forever. The prophetic words of Jeremiah have come to fruition. God has turned our mourning to joy, our sorrow to joy.
  7. Today we weep, perhaps, and we mourn the absence of this one so loved and so loving. Still, we rejoice. Always we rejoice, for we are in the Lord. We give thanks for the life Evie lives now in the Lord, and with that hope for the future, we give thanks for the life she lived among us. We have learned so much from her. If there is anything pure and pleasing, just and excellent, that we can learn from her, keep on doing these things. So, we keep teaching and learning. We keep caring for one another. We keep dancing. And most of all, we keep the faith – faith in the One who is present in our dying that we might be forever present with Christ and all the saints before the throne.

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

And now may that peace that passes all understanding keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, this day and forever. Amen.

From → Sermons

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