Funeral Sermon for Natalie Walta – 1.16.24

+ In Memoriam – Natalie Walta: July 11, 1936 – January 6, 2024 +

Psalm 25; Job 19:21-27; Romans 8:31-39; John 14:1-6

Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church

Milton, WA

 

“The Artist”

 

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

 

Every artist has his or her favorite medium with which to work. Some prefer to paint with watercolors, oil paints, or acrylics. Some carve and craft amazing pieces out of wood or metal. Some take a lump of clay and with little more than their hands, some water, a potter’s wheel, and their imagination, a work of art is formed.

 

I recently learned that our dear sister in Christ, Natalie Walta, was an artist. Her paintings had won awards. She attended the Art Institute at the University of Chicago. She taught the arts to little children at St. Paul’s Lutheran school. Yes, Natalie was an artist.

 

Natalie’s favorite medium, however, was not paint, wood, or clay…it was the loving kindness of Christ…that our Lord worked within her: creating faith, filling her with joy, and then, like a paint can that has been knocked over, that loving kindness of Christ spilled out into Natalie’s life and faith in Christ, and her life and love for others. She painted large brush strokes of kindness everywhere she went and with everyone she met. Why? Because as Paul says in Ephesians, she was saved by grace through faith in Christ…and she was God’s workmanship, his great work of art, created in Christ Jesus for good works.

 

With the Psalmist, Natalie rejoiced in God’s gracious creation, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

Yes, Natalie was an artist, made and formed by God, the great Artist himself. He gave her earthly life, but didn’t stop there. By his handiwork, from the outstretched arms of Christ on the cross and his glorified, nail-scarred hands of the resurrection, he reached down into the water to give her eternal life as well. There in that little church in Herrin, Illinois, our Lord who fearfully and wonderfully made Natalie, more wondrously made Natalie a new creation in Christ, clothed in Christ, baptized in Christ, rescued and redeemed in Christ.

 

Our Heavenly Father, after all, is a master artist, and his favorite medium to work with is his word and something of his creation: water, words, bread, wine.. For Natalie, as he does for all who are baptized, he worked his great saving work in water and word where he baptizes, rescues, and gives new life.

 

As Natalie’s life continued, so did God’s handiwork through her. Her artistry was never confined to the classroom or the canvas; it went into everything she did in life. When she was a teacher she taught her 4th graders and 1st graders the usual things – the ABCs, 123s, how to create works of art – and through it all, she taught them the lovingkindness of Christ, who put in his hands, not a brush or a pencil, but Roman nails that he would carve out of death and the grave, his great work of salvation for Natalie and for you.

 

When she became a minister’s wife – no easy task by the way – she was an artist, painting the loving kindness of Jesus into her conversations over Bible study, Senior Saints, or other activities.

 

When she and Arnold were raising a family, she was an artist, pouring out the loving kindness of Christ for her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, forming and shaping them in the loving kindness of Christ

 

In recent years, here at Beautiful Savior, Natalie’s artistry could be found in the kind words of a thoughtful, beautifully handwritten card, or a hand-stitched quilt.

 

Natalie approached life, the same way she approached art: with humility, joy, and the loving kindness of Christ. This is because Natalie found inspiration and joy not only on the canvas and at the pottery wheel, but most of all, in the promises of Jesus.

 

The kind of promises Paul declares to us in Romans 8: that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Promises that our Lord gives in John 14: Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

 

Promises like we hear in Job.

“Oh that my words were written!

    Oh that they were inscribed in a book!

Oh that with an iron pen and lead

    they were engraved in the rock forever!

For I know that my Redeemer lives,

    and at the last he will stand upon the earth.

And after my skin has been thus destroyed,

    yet in my flesh I shall see God. 

 

This was where Natalie’s love of art and creativity came from, where her hope, joy, faith, and love all flowed out of…out of the loving kindness of Christ for her. Natalie knew that all of the gifts of this earthly life, and the gifts of eternal life in Christ were not found in the work and creativity of her hands, but in the work of Christ’s hands. Natalie’s faith rested not in her own artistry and love, but in the great and gracious work of Christ, who by his death and resurrection, brought his new creation to Natalie and to you.

 

Natalie also knew that while God’s work of salvation was won for her on the cross, he had one more masterpiece in mind: the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting. Natalie’s resurrection. Your resurrection. A real, bodily, physical raising of the dead on the last day. Natalie believed and confessed this mysterious, yet wonderful, comforting promise. That the Lord who knit her together in her mother’s womb would one day call her forth from her resting place in the ground and once again knit a glorified and risen, yet physical body from the grave. That the same Lord who formed Adam from the dust of the earth and breathed into him the breath of life, will raise us from the dust and ashes of our and breath into us the living breath of the new creation.

 

That the same Lord who makes us, along with Natalie a new creation in baptism, will also make all things new when he raises our lowly bodies to be like his glorious body on the Last Day. That the great and gracious Artist, our Lord Jesus himself, will speak his creative, life-giving word as he did at the tomb of Lazarus: awake. Arise. Come forth. Behold, I make all things new.

 

Until that day when faith becomes sight, may the loving kindness of Christ, that filled Natalie’s creative hands, and faith and life with such joy, fill your hands, hearts, and lives with the same love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard and keep your hearts 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