Funeral Sermon for Joy Longe – 9.16.23

+ In Memoriam – Joy Longe +

Psalm 28; Exodus 15:1-13; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; John 20:1-10

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA

“The Lord is My Strength”

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

Athletes look to their training and physical health for strength. Anyone who drives a truck, tows a trailer, or enjoys a good sportscar looks under the hood for strength. So often in this world we’re told to look for strength within.

Where do Christians look for strength? The answer may surprise you. Not within. But outside of you. Not in the works of your hands, but in the hands of Jesus Christ who was lifted up on the cross and rose again from the dead three days later. Not in our words, but the words and promises of God in Jesus. Strength for the Christian is found, not in our life, but in the life of Christ Jesus our Lord.

This is what we heard earlier as we read Psalm 28:

The Lord is the strength of his people;
he is the saving refuge of his anointed.

This was Joy’s confession and faith as well. In one of our conversations these past few years – I can’t recall if it was when she was ill or just having a tough day – I asked her how she was doing. Her answer: “God will give me strength. The Lord is my strength.” Joy’s words echo the words of Psalm 28

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.

Joy knew that her strength – and the strength of all who are baptized and believe in Christ – isn’t found within ourselves, but in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. 

For the Christian, strength comes from outside of you – from Christ crucified and risen for you. Like the old Sunday school song goes…I am weak but he is strong. God gives us strength to believe in Jesus. God gives us strength to confess his saving name. God gives us strength to love and serve others. If there is any strength within us, it is always God’s gift to us in Jesus.

On days when she was weak or tired Joy took comfort in God’s gifts which strengthened her. His promise to her in Holy Baptism, that by water and word – something that outwardly looks so weak and ordinary – God was pouring out his Holy Spirit upon her, washing away her sins, clothing her in Christ’s righteousness, and giving her eternal life in his name. No matter how weak or tired we may be or feel on any given day, the promises and grace of God in Christ are always stronger.

On days when Joy experienced loss in life – loss of family and friends, loss of health – she found strength in the victory that our Lord Jesus purchased and won for her on the cross and out of tomb. When we experience loss; when we grieve; when it appears as though the last enemy of death has triumphed yet again, we can sing like Israel did after they crossed the Red Sea, we rejoice with Joy that, The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation. 

This was the source of Joy’s strength in life – even in the daily things from spending time with family, friends, and grandchildren to the countless ways she served our Lord and others here at Beautiful Savior – in all these things Joy’s strength came not from within, but from outside of her…from Christ our Lord. Joy believed and confessed the truth of God’s word that reminds us that whenever we look within for strength, comfort, or hope, all we find is sin and death. The answer, like our strength, lies outside of us…in Christ. 

As St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians… the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

There on the cross, Jesus piled up all our weakness, all our failure, all our sin, disease and death itself, and he endured it all for Joy and for you. Jesus was crucified in weakness so that your strength – now and forever – would be found in Him. 

That’s another thing that separates a Christian understanding of strength from the sinful world’s point of view. Physical strength fades. It’s temporary and fleeting. Not so with the strength of God’s promises and salvation in Jesus. 

God’s promises to Joy and to you are eternal. When Jesus rose from the dead on that first Easter Sunday, He rose in victory over sin, death, and the grave. When our Lord Jesus opened his tomb and walked out alive again he did that so that he would open the kingdom of heaven to Joy, to you, to all believers in Christ. Our strength, like Joy’s, is found in our Lord Jesus – in his cross and his resurrection. 

This good news and promise strengthens us not only in this life, but in the life of the world to come. Through Jesus’ resurrection we are promised our own resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. Though this body is often afflicted with weakness and disease, Christ will raise our lowly bodies to be like his glorious body risen from the grave. Though our body is laid in the ground, through the strength and victory of Christ’s death and resurrection, he will raise us and Joy and all the faithful departed from our graves in the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting. In the flesh and blood of Jesus crucified and risen, we have the sure and certain promise that he will raise us from the dead, flesh and blood, to live with him forever.

And there, in the new creation, we will join Joy and all the saints in singing…

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.

The Lord is the strength of his people;
he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
The Lord is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation;

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard and keep you in Christ Jesus to life everlasting. Amen.

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.

Church Office Hours

Monday - Thursday 8:30am-3:30pm

Friday 8:30am-11:30am

The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

Preschool Office Hours

August - May
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
8:30am-12:30pm

By appointment only June and July

Contact

Address
2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
Phone
(253) 922-6977
Fax
(253) 922-6977