In Memoriam – Margaret Donnelly Memorial Service Sermon – 7.1.23

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Whenever I would visit Margaret we would enjoy good conversation together, read the Scriptures and receive Holy Communion together. I know she enjoyed all these things, though one of her favorites was always singing and hearing hymns. So we would close our time together with prayer and hymns. It’s no surprise to any of you who know her, then, that from time to time, she would mention in our conversations that when the time came for her funeral service that she said, “I want all the Alleluia songs!”

Today we’re doing exactly that, singing alleluia songs in thanks and praise for the life and faith our Lord Jesus gave to Margaret. We give thanks and praise for his gift of eternal life given to her and to all who believe. We give thanks and praise to Christ Jesus who shed his blood on the cross for Margaret and for you, who rose again victoriously from the dead for Margaret and for you, and who fills our hearts and minds with thanks and praise for all he has done for Margaret and for you.

Today we join Margaret and all the faithful departed in singing alleluia. It’s a great Hebrew word that we hear in the Scriptures over and over again, and it means praise YHWH. Praise the Lord.

The Scripture is full of alleluias…of praises to the Lord. In Psalm 23 we join David in praising the Lord who is our shepherd, as he was for Margaret, laying down his life for his sheep.

In Lamentations we join the prophet Jeremiah in praising the Lord whose mercies are new every morning, and whose steadfast love never ceases, just as his mercies were with Margaret every day and his steadfast love was always with her.

In 1 Corinthians we join Paul in the alleluia of praise for Christ’s resurrection from the dead, rejoicing that in Christ’s death and resurrection, all who believe in Jesus, as Margaret did, do not die forever. For the saints in Christ, death is temporary. The last enemy is defeated. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 

In John 3 we sing alleluias to God the Father who sent His Son Jesus, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

This good news is why Margaret enjoyed singing hymns and praising the Lord. For our Lord Jesus had done great things for Margaret, as he does for you. Jesus was born for you. Lived perfectly for you. Kept the Father’s will and words for you. Went to the cross for you. Suffered for you in your place. Paid the punishment of sin for you. Bled. Was crucified. Died. And was buried for you. Rested in the tomb for you. And rose again on the third day from the grave for you.

This is why Margaret loved that word alleluia so much, because so much of what our Lord Jesus did for her and for you is wrapped up in that little word, Alleluia. Praise the Lord!

There is a psalm, the last one of the psalter, psalm 150, and it begins and ends with that word, Alleluia. I couldn’t help but think of that psalm as I thought of Margaret’s life and faith in Christ. That’s how it was for her too. Her life began and ended with alleluias, with the praise of the Lord. In Baptism she was clothed in Christ’s righteousness that covered all her sin. And even in death, she rests in the promise that death and sin do not get the final word over her, or you. Rather, Christ’s word does. Alleluia wins the day!

Praise the Lord for he has done marvelous things for Margaret and for you.

Praise the Lord for Jesus’ life and death and resurrection for Margaret and for you.

Praise the Lord for calling Margaret to faith in Christ, baptizing her in his holy name, and joining her to his death and resurrection.

Praise the Lord for rising from the dead on the third day so that when he returns in glory in the Last Day, he will raise us from our graves as well.

Praise the Lord for his saints here on earth and with him in heaven as together we await with Margaret and all the faithful, our Lord’s return, and his voice that will call us forth out of the tomb and into the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.

Praise the Lord who will raise us from the dead in a glorious, physical, and bodily resurrection, a new creation so that we can spend an eternity with Margaret and the faithful departed singing all the alleluia songs to the Lamb who was slain and yet lives.

Indeed, as the Psalms say, let everything that has breath, praise the Lord.

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

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

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