Joined to Christ: Betty Krause’s Funeral Sermon

In the beginning, God spoke light into being, calling forth day and night and time itself into existence. Soon, God separated the water from the land and made plants to bring forth fruit. The sun, moon, and stars, God gave for signs and seasons. The air, soil, and oceans soon moved with birds, fish, earth-bound animals, and crawling creatures.

On creation’s sixth day, God scoops up the dust of this virgin world and fashions a living, breathing man named Adam. Of course, if God thrummed with a different character and delighted in the solitary over the communal, Adam might live alone. For if this Creator of the cosmos only thrived as an impersonal deity, the man’s life might shrink into a celibate life cloistered within a garden. Ponder Adam living only for himself, delighting in his desires, working only to put a smile on his singular face.

Though God is a God of completion and creation still needed something. “How undesirable for the man to be alone—I will make him a counterpart, corresponding to him” (Genesis 2:18). So, the Creator went back to work, casting a deep sleep on the man, taking some from his side, and closing the flesh in its place. Among so many possibilities, this man will now be someone who loves and someone’s beloved.

From the side of Adam, God fashioned the woman whom Adam named Eve. After making His just-created daughter, the Father of Eve leads her by the hand to the awakening man. On this woman, Adam’s eyes gaze with wonder: “At last, bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh—she will be ‘woman’ since she came from ‘man.’” From one flesh came the other, and as two separate beings, the two became one.

Yet, because God, our Maker, is who He is, Leroy came into being in 1928, Betty in 1931, almost a full three years later. Like Adam, who once became love-struck with Eve, Leroy fell in love with Betty. Yes, he began his career as a Kansas farmer and worked with his dad, Martin, and brother, Melvin. Though, I want to tell you about Leroy and Betty, not farming.

A Lutheran like Leroy should date and marry a fine Lutheran woman. Yet, someone else caught his eye from the other end of town. A verboten fruit tempted Leroy, of Roman-Catholic shape and form, in the features of a woman, Betty Navrat. Soon and fast, their courtship takes hold. Of course, Betty agrees to be Leroy’s wife, with one stipulation: The ceremony can be at your congregation but the reception will be at mine, where there’s lots of dancing.

Though a problem arose since Leroy didn’t grow up dancing, the Lutherans in the town tending toward pietism. Undaunted, Leroy determined to develop dancing feet to marry Betty, springing with skill and finesse and practicing many hours. In October 1949, Betty became the Eve to her Adam. A few years ago, when both moved with graceful style and vigor, you might find them cutting a rug like no one else!

Did we skip anything? Yes, if we want to understand why something later grabs hold of Betty and refuses to leave her alone. An event occurs of a meal consumed of sweetest fruit, which brought us bitterness and devoured humanity in its bite. The Devil, hidden from Adam and Eve in a snakeskin disguise, prepared a table before them, before the forbidden tree.

After approaching Eve, he dropped a loaded question designed to cause her to doubt God. “Did God, indeed, say you may not eat from any tree in the garden?” Well, she did respond, only to receive the Devil’s scoff, “Die—you will not die! No, God well understands if you eat its fruit, your eyes will open, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Do we recall the rest? Soon, their teeth sunk into the fruit of this rebellion, and their eyes both opened. Now tainted with evil, righteousness, peace with God, and life itself, all vanished from their sight. The parents of humanity filled their bellies full of food but a life empty of God. Now, every living creature suffers, you, me, including both Betty and Leroy.

Now, God being who He is, did not let this stand. So, inside a virgin woman named Mary, God crafted a human body for His eternal Son. Don’t miss the reverberations of creation echoing: The man, Adam, born from virgin soil; the Messiah, Jesus, from a virgin’s womb. A new and better Adam, God-in-the-flesh, came to earth.

Flash forward some three decades. On another sixth day, this one during Holy Week, God’s Son replayed the events of Eden, when Jesus formed for Himself a bride. Not so much to create but to re-create, to put a broken human race back together again.

Now, since Christ shouldn’t be alone, the dark Friday of salvation’s death came to be. The sinless Son of heaven chose to become sin for us, to die, the worst of this world’s sinners. Pounded to the wood of His creation, a woven thicket of thorns crowned His regal brow. After suffering all the fallenness of the world, a three-day sleep fell upon this Second Adam. From this, He won’t awaken until the Easter sun begins to shine.

Limp between heaven and earth, His body hung, nailed to an executioner’s cross. The shaft of a soldier’s spear thrust upward and pierced our Redeemer’s flesh into His side. At once, water gushed, and blood poured as the dam of Jesus’ flesh cracked open.

In the sleep of crucifixion death, God brought forth—not mere flesh—but water and blood to build His holy Bride, the Church. Like our Father made the one who became Adam’s bride from his side, so also did He form Christ’s Bride. Through Adam’s side, Eve received life. From the blood and water flowing from Jesus’ side, our Lord’s Church received her life.

Now, the water, which streamed from Christ’s wounded side, flows into a baptismal tide, bringing forth spiritual birth in the place of death. Like Jesus came to inhabit the form of our physical flesh to save us, He now delivers this salvation through the washing of physical water with the Word.

The Savior’s baptized bride walks down the aisle of His precious Church’s paradise, held by the hand of her heavenly Father, who is in heaven. The Groom, Jesus, stands at this earthly altar, “Bone from my bones, flesh from my own flesh. Yes, she will be a Christian since she came from Christ.”

So, salvation becomes ours by Christ’s doing. Still, the world remains sinful and fallen, awaiting the new creation when Christ will return on the Last Day. Thus, in this now and not yet, we live. For those who trust in Christ, salvation is something real, but the unfolded reality still awaits. Like our redemption didn’t become real until Jesus rose from death, so must we await our bodies’ resurrection.

So, this explains the jagged existence of life in this world. The shards sliced deep as dementia cut into Betty, splintering away reality, causing her to believe herself back in Kansas with Leroy, though he died three years past. Some ten days ago, an unrelenting stroke struck from which Betty never rebounded. Now she dwells in glory with the saints above, including Leroy, anticipating the resurrection in Christian hope.

No matter if you’re Christian or not, no one journeys through life unscathed, free from suffering or escaping death. The difference for the Christian is God’s promise to work through everything for your eternal well-being, for those who love Him, those called according to His purpose.

Your Lord is “a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief,” as Prophet Isaiah wrote (Isaiah 53:3). So, those united to Christ in His death are never alone in their suffering. So, as you grieve Betty’s death, Jesus is with you. In Him, you can endure—not because you’re resilient enough but because He is with you. Oh, He is no abstract, theoretical Savior, but one with bone, flesh, and nerve endings like yours.

So, He understands what He is saying when He invites You to come to Him with your worries and burdens. “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. For I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Your Brother in human flesh, Jesus, conquered death. From His tomb, He emerged triumphant, defeating death’s dark grave. So, you will, as well. In both body and blood, Jesus destroyed death and ransacked hell. “Only in this way did he deliver all those who lived their lives enslaved by the fear of death” (Hebrews 2:15).

Don’t forget who you are and whose you are, to whom you belong. So, Betty didn’t only become Leroy’s bride but Christ’s treasured Bride as part of His cherished Church. The marriage of Jesus to His Church is what makes our salvation real. In love, He holds all whom the Spirit brought into His kingdom. For richer or poorer, in sickness or health, He will never leave or abandon you. Did He not pledge you His faithfulness, sealed in blood?

Though we fail in living out the perfection of holy love, as Betty also did, Christ’s perfection covers our failures. Yes, He kept Betty as the bone of His bone, the flesh of His flesh, as He will do for you.

Though life here and suffering are bound together, a life with Christ binds you to Him by God’s divine grace. Yes, trusting His sure Word, He will bring You through your present sadness into the realms of everlasting joy. Those so joined to Jesus will live forever in eternal splendor with Him. Amen.

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