The Lord Remembers Lloyd Adermann

The following is posted with family permission.  May the Lord give to the family of Lloyd Adermann and to all who mourn, comfort in their grief and a sure confidence in the Lord's loving care.

Text: Luke 23:39-46

To Him who loves us and has washed us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever:  Amen.

My condolences to you: Leona, Bob, Darla, Laverne, Stanley, and Carol, as well as the rest of the family of Lloyd for your loss of a husband, father, grandfather, and friend. 

As Lloyd’s pastor over the last two and a half years, I was able to get to know Lloyd quite well.  I was able to hear the stories of his great horse getting back on its two legs.  I was able to serve Lloyd communion.  I was able to hear him confess the Small Catechism.  I was able to be with him when he cried.  I was able to see his tender smile.  With that said though, I must confess that I did not know Lloyd as you did, for I never was able to know him before his dementia.  You see, I was always that strange face to Lloyd.  He never remembered me from visit to visit; but I was blessed to remember him. 

I assume that as a family, it has been a struggle over the last several years with Lloyd battling dementia.  I certainly do not want to assume to understand everything that goes on with dementia, but I do know that it can be difficult when a close loved one forgets precious memories, forgets names, forgets birthdays and anniversaries, and can even forget faces.  I can only imagine and assume how difficult it might be to not be able to remember these precious things.  There is no doubt about it that the loss of memory can be unsettling for people who experience dementia, as well as for those who care for them.

With all of that said, dementia can also bring about an unsettling feeling in thinking about the Christian faith.  In other words, how do we handle it when a person’s memory may forget precious scripture verses?  What happens when people forget the basic truths of the Christian faith?  What happens to a person’s status with God when the body begins to shut down and a person is unable to consciously confess Christ?

Our Gospel reading from Luke speaks to all of this.  It is the story of Jesus’ conversation with the thief on the cross.  What should grip us in our Gospel reading is the thief’s words to Jesus, "Remember me [Jesus] when you come into your kingdom."  Yes, "Remember me."  Remember me Jesus.  Recall me Jesus.  Notice me Jesus.  Include me Jesus. 
Acknowledge me Jesus.  All these words are ways that we could translate into modern language what the criminal said to Jesus some two-thousand years ago, when he hung next to Him, bleeding and dying.

Is this not a great confession?  Remember me! 

In Jesus' reply we hear Him saying to the thief, "Today you will be with me in paradise." In other words, Jesus certainly remembered the thief on the cross.  And today I confess to you that Jesus remembers Lloyd as well.  Lloyd is not forgotten by God Almighty.

Helmut Thielicke, an old German theologian, once said,

"Praise God that the Gospel is more than a philosophy or ideology.  If it were only a dry religious idea, you would just have it as long as you could keep it in your mind so that it could give you comfort.  However, thank God that it is so much more, that even when you can no longer think about God, He still thinks of you.  If we can feel nothing of His presence, He still feels for us." (Paraphrase of Quote)

Dear friends, the good news of the Gospel for Lloyd and for all of you is that even when Lloyd’s mind slowed at the end of life, Jesus remembered him.  Even when we are plagued by the pain and numbness of losing a loved one, God still feels for you. 

Today in this funeral service, we praise God that the Gospel is dependent on God's actions toward us and not dependent on our actions toward God.  We praise God that Lloyd’s salvation was not dependent upon his remembrance of Christ, but Christ’s remembrance of him.  There is comfort in this message of the Gospel.  There is a concrete nature to the Gospel.  In other words, there is nothing that could have kept Jesus from the cross and there is nothing in this life that can reach back in time and remove Christ from the cross.  The events of today cannot reach back into time and keep Christ in the grave.  He died and was resurrected for Lloyd and for you.    

Jesus said to the thief on the cross, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."  Without going into a lot of technicalities, Jesus speaks this in a way that communicates certainty.  “You will” be with me in paradise.  This is most certainly true.  It will happen.  You can count on this.  You can depend on this!  It is a promise of certainty.  He belonged to Jesus because Jesus remembered Him!

What this means is that God certainly remembers Lloyd and He has not and will not forget him in death, the cross and resurrection and Lloyd’s baptism are proof of that. 

On the cross some two-thousand years ago God charged all that is sin in us against Christ. That Good Friday, God the Father judged that sin that was laid upon Jesus – your sin, my sin, and Lloyd’s sin.  Do you know what this means?  It means that Jesus’ death destroyed your sin and your death!  It destroyed Lloyd’s sin and Lloyd’s death.  Look to the cross and what you see is the death of your sin and the full satisfaction of your salvation! 

Jesus was made to be sin and you, me, and Lloyd, have been clothed in the righteousness of Christ being declared a saint!  And get this… Jesus has promised to come back and resurrect our bodies.  He will not forget our bodies in the dust of the ground; He will not forget Lloyd who will be committed to the grave!

Can you imagine yourself standing in the presence of God exhibiting full righteousness, being without blemish, perfect, and free?  That’s what Christ promises to do for you, for me, and for Lloyd!  Because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, you, Lloyd, and I are clothed in Christ’s righteousness – declared Saints!  Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, in God’s eyes you are as perfect as Christ!  It is as if sin never happened, since sin was charged to Christ’s account and not to us! 

Believe, trust and know that Christ is for you and he will not forget you, as He has not and will not forget Lloyd! 

You are buried deeply in the wounds of Christ my friends, as is Lloyd.  Sin puts us in the grave; however, the Gospel puts us in Jesus’ grave – a grave that is open and leads to life eternal.   

Praise God that the Gospel is more than a philosophy or ideology.  If it were only a dry religious idea, you, me, and Lloyd would just have it as long as we could keep it in our minds so that it could give us comfort.  However, thank God that it is so much more, that even when we can no longer think about God, He still thinks of us.
Now may the Lord of peace Himself, Jesus Christ, firmly establish you in the forgiveness of sins and the hope of the resurrection and give you peace, hope, and courage always in every way until He graciously takes you from this vale of tears to Himself into heaven. Amen.

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