Nancy Allen, born Nancy Maschoff, was baptized by her father just days after her birth in 1948. Elmer Maschoff became pastor of Glendale Lutheran church in 1954. Nancy was confirmed in the faith in our old sanctuary on Palm Sunday April 15th, 1962. Our secretary found a bulletin from that day. We found Nancy’s confirmation verse. It’s a rare one. We read it just moments ago. Isaiah 54:10, "'For the Mountains may depart and the Hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,' says the Lord who has compassion on you."
It was customary in those days for a Pastor to pick the verse for the comfirmand. If that is the case here, then a Pastor and a father gave these words to his beloved daughter. Pastor Maschoff could have chosen any words from the Bible and he believed these were perfect for his Nancy. These words are a blessing in life and in death.
The book of Isaiah is called the Gospel of the Old Testament. He is the prophet most quoted in the New Testament. His purpose to give hope to God’s suffering people by foretelling a Savior who will come. The nation of Israel has been defeated by other nations. The people fear that this is the end. God doesn’t care and has given up on them. So Isaiah shares God’s plan for restoring all things. He is sending a Messiah to build a new kingdom.
Nancy’s identity in Christ was established in her baptism. When her father baptized her in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, she was made part of the family of God. Then on her confirmation day she publicly confessed her faith, embracing the truth of Isaiah 54. The Lord has compassion on Nancy and his steadfast love will never depart from her. That is an important understanding for a girl.
Nancy grew up in the Lord. She used the gifts God gave her. She was good with numbers and money, helping others to be prosperous. She loved animals, adopting dogs and supporting the humane society. Nancy shared her life with her husband Mark for 45 years. His memorial service was in this very sanctuary. The words of her confirmation are as true today as when she received them.
When we lose a loved one it’s like the mountains move and the hills depart. Our whole world shifts. We make sense of life through our relationships. Then our parents die or our husband dies and the ground beneath us gives way. That is when we need to hold onto these immovable words, “The Lord’s steadfast love will not depart from you.” The nation of Israel gripped those words three thousand years ago. These words are a life rope because they are true and always will be.
In our third reading, Jesus comforts a grieving woman. Jesus was a friend of the family. He ate at the table of siblings Mary, Martha and Lazarus. They were his students, sitting at his feet and learning about the new kingdom he was bringing. Lazarus became sick and died way too young. The sisters called for Jesus because they knew he could move mountains and heal the dead. He had compassion on his friends. He cried with them. Then he removed the grave stone and resurrected his friend. Jesus was the embodiment of Isiah’s words. He is the compassionate God who will never leave us no matter what.
Jesus didn’t just raise Lazarus from the grave but he overcame his own execution. The Lord was crucified and died. At the moment of his death Matthew record these words, “The earth shook, and rocks were split. The tombs were opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion saw the earthquake and what took place they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the son of God.”
This was the prophecy of Nancy’s confirmation verse. The earth would shake as a proclamation of God’s compassion of his people. Three days later Jesus rose from the dead. This was confirmation of his promise to Mary and Martha. The dead will rise. Everyone will be resurrected because Christ was resurrected.
But we are frail creatures. We are scared of death. We forget God’s promises. We trust in our own strength. As you mourn Nancy, be honest about your grief, your insecurities and your pain. Give them to God. He will have compassion on you. Realize that your destiny does not depend on your strength but on God’s strength. And he can move mountains.
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Daily Bible Reading
Birthday Bags and Meal Kits 2021
Reminder: because of the extreme cold and hazardous road conditions which may have prevented people from going out to get supplies, we extended the deadline for turning in contributions. The last day to turn in your bags is now Sunday, March 7.
A huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to this community ministry! We hope the snow, ice and frigid weather is gone and will give you more time to complete the bags.
Next Sunday's Bible Readings
Exodus 20:1-17; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; John 2:13-25