Pastor Samuel D. Zumwalt
St. Matthew’s Ev. Lutheran Church
Wilmington, North Carolina
August 15, 2018
MEMORIAL SERVICE OF ALEDA WOIDSCHECK MARGGRAFF
Psalm 23 (KJV): The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Glory be to the Father, and to the +Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be world without end. Amen.
Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV): 4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Matthew 5:14-17 (ESV): 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
GLORY TO THE FATHER
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
We are here to give God thanks and praise for the life and witness of Aleda Marggraff. The paschal candle next to the baptismal font is lighted, reminding us that Christ is risen indeed. He has promised that Aleda also will rise from the dead in a resurrected body that cannot wear out, suffer, or die again. So, Aleda has completed her Baptism into Jesus’ death and resurrection. She died with Christ on the day of her Baptism and was raised to eternal life with the Triune God.
Early next week Aleda’s body will be laid to rest in New Jersey next to her husband Carl. On that day, the pastor will say, “In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, we commend to Almighty God our sister, Aleda, and we commit her body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust” (Lutheran Book of Worship, 213).
After 92 years of joyful service to God and neighbor, Aleda’s pilgrim journey is over. She has safely arrived at home in the arms of her Savior’s “…mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light” (LBW, 211).
With the publication of the Lutheran Book of Worship forty years ago, Lutherans began giving the baptized a candle on the day of Holy Baptism. It was lighted the first time from the paschal candle, the symbol of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ, and the pastor or an assisting minister spoke the words we heard in our Gospel reading today: “Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Aleda and my late mother were of the same generation when many Lutherans feared appearing too Catholic. No candle was given on the day of their Baptism into Christ. No paschal candle stood next to the font. Those who brought them as infants to be baptized were asked: “Do you promise to instruct her in the Word of God, and to bring her up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?” (Common Service Book, 231). After the children were baptized the pastor prayed: “…we humbly beseech Thee to defend and keep her in this grace, that she may never depart from Thee, but may always live according to Thy will, and finally receive the fullness of Thy promise in Thine eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ, your Son our Lord…” (CSB, 231).
Neither Aleda nor my mother needed a baptismal candle or a paschal candle to be taught that they were bearers of Christ’s light through their words and deeds. They were taught to follow their Lord Jesus in lives of humble service. They were taught to give glory to their heavenly Father as they used their gifts to be a blessing to others. When the women of Aleda’s generation were girls, they learned to live frugally during the Great Depression. Aleda became a young woman during World War II, when everyone was expected to contribute to the war effort. Her formative years gave way to marriage and family life. Baby boomers grew up very differently.
The lessons of the early years, instruction in the Word of God, and the witness of the older generations shaped Aleda into a joyful servant of God, and she has given glory to her Father in heaven following in the footsteps of the Servant Son of God, who gave His life a ransom for many. In this congregation, Aleda was still folding worship bulletins just a few months ago. Aleda was still participating as a teller counting the weekend offerings and helping to prepare the bank deposits. As health permitted, Aleda was still attending the services of God’s house and receiving the Lord’s true Body and most precious Blood at the altar. He filled her with His endless life. She was faithful unto death, and now she has received the crown of eternal life. Her Baptism into Christ is complete.
We do not have to pretend that Aleda was perfect. The only perfect servant of God is His beloved Son Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away Aleda’s sins and those of the whole world. By her Baptism into Christ, Aleda regularly received the promise of forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and salvation. That freedom from bondage to sin, death, and evil permitted Aleda to give her life away in joyful service. Aleda reflected the Light of Christ in her words and deeds. We thank God for Aleda’s life and witness. We will miss her smile and good humor. She knew how to rejoice in the Lord!
Just as the Word of God and the witness of the older generations shaped Aleda into a joyful servant of God, so, too, Aleda’s life challenges us to consider whether we will live as takers or givers, as complainers or encouragers, as ones to be avoided or ones to be embraced, as dour sufferers or as joyous warriors, as ones bound by loss and regrets or as ones straining forward towards the finish line with the excitement that comes with giving your all for others. Aleda let her light shine before others and gave glory to her Father in heaven. Thanks be to God!
In the name of the Father, and of the +Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.