Sunday, March 4, 2018

In Memoriam - Leona Worth

Leona Bultemeier Worth
Born: June 12, 1926
Baptized in Christ: June 20, 1926
Confirmed in Christ: March 17, 1940
With Christ in Peace: February 26, 2018
Committal: March 4, 2018

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me; And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish; neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. – John 10:27-28
“Blessed are they that die in the Lord”

Be still my soul; the Lord is on your side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to your God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still my soul; your best, your heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still my soul; the hour is hastening on
Where we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Death is so limited…
It has not crippled love,
It has not shattered hope,
It has not corroded faith,
It has not eaten away peace
   Nor destroyed confidence.

It has not killed friendship,
It has not shut out memories,
It has not silenced courage,
It has not invaded the soul,
   Nor reduced eternal life.

It has not quenched the Spirit,
It cannot, has not,
  Nor will not lessen the power of the resurrection!

From the book of Acts, the ninth chapter, we read; “The disciples heard that Peter was near Joppa, they sent two men to urge him, “Come to us without delay.” So Peter got up and went with them. On his arrival, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood around him, weeping and showing him the tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them. Then Peter sent them all out of the room. He knelt down and prayed, and turning toward her body, he said, “Tabitha, get up!” She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up.…”

When Weston called me to inform me that of Leona Worth’s passing, I immediately thought of this passage of Scripture. Even up to just a few days before she passed Leona was still weaving and knitting scarves; which today, we too could show all that Leona had made while she was still with us. Those scarves have been a blessing to so many. When son Henry came for a visit over the New Year holiday he experienced a 70 degree drop in temperature. From 75 in PHX to 5 degrees in INDY. Thank goodness the Morning Glories had a few of Leona’s scarves available in the Parish Hall next door. These scarves and other clothing that Leona has made have been distributed to shelters and to the homeless and to veterans by members of our parish.  These scarves and other clothing that Leona has made while she was still with us still meet a need. They fulfill a purpose. 

Art and Leona were probably the first members from our Friedheim family which I met thirty-one years ago. Art was on the call committee and they drove up to Lansing for a conversation. They were available when we toured the parsonage. And who can forget her recopies which she came up with when we had the numerous confirmation dinners and receptions throughout that 150th Anniversary celebration!  Leona was the driving force behind the organization of our cottage meetings and get acquainted gatherings.

Leona followed Purdue basketball faithfully. The team schedule was proudly posted on her refrigerator.  Once she asked me, “you’ve got dish?” No, I replied. “Well, you should!” She replied. “Then you could follow this team…and learn something!” 

For years she would grow miniature cantaloupes in her garden. I believe they were from France. The seeds came from fruit she had tasted on a cruise she and Art had once taken. 
One of the few luxuries she enjoyed. “Did you have fun?” I once asked her. “On your trip?” “Yes, She explained, we did have a good time…But it was good to get back… Hated missing so much time away from work!”

Leona had a tremendous work ethic. She worked at Ft. Wayne Wire Die from August 20 1944 t0 August 27 2001. That’s 57 years. Leona understood a great truth. Through our work. We are a part of a greater kingdom. We live simply by grace. We are here to offer hints of hope.

We seek God in and through our particular vocations and our place in life. Our task is not to somehow inject God into our work. But to join God. In the work He is already doing. In and through our lives.   In short, Leona becomes a sermon in shoes.   

She enjoyed and almost found comfort in the structure of her life. The structure of work gave her purpose. The structure of parish life gave her a foundation of faith. Everywhere she lived was under the shadow of the steeple of this church.  The structure of the neighborhood gave her a safe haven; an environment to raise her family. 

Leona and I share the same confirmation verse. In this very room. On the day of her confirmation, these words were spoken over her, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me; And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” – John 10:27-28   

Whose words do we come to hear? We come to hear and to follow Jesus. Worship at its best calls for us to come and to listen to Jesus and His Word. In a word, Leona was faithful. Faithful to Christ. Faithful to His word. Faithful to the people Christ had placed in her life.  Every single Sunday she would faithfully hear the voice of her Shepherd Jesus. And when she could no longer come to services here. She would faithfully come to worship her Savior at Woodcrest and then, later on at Adams Heritage. Week after week after week she was fed by her Good Shepherd. She was encouraged by His faithful word. Leona knew the Savior’s voice. Now she sees His face.

The Scriptures remind us, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:16-17) 

Yes, there is something more lasting, more powerful and greater than your sin. It is the love and compassion Jesus has for us sinners. While each of us were lost and steeped in sin, God our Father had a plan. A plan, which was in place, way before the dawn of time.

What God did not become. He could not save. And so, Christ came into the world as one of us. To save us. Jesus came into the world. To be counted with sinners. To save sinners. 

At the right time, God our heavenly Father would send His only Son. Jesus would enter into our world. Breaking into time and space. He came to be your substitute. He would live the perfect life for you. He would die the death that you deserve. 

And there, at a cross, He would trade your sin, your misery and your guilt for His perfection and work out what you and I could never, ever do! 

Yes, Jesus has done for you better than what you could ever do for yourself. When settling the issue with sin, Jesus acts alone. He dealt with the issues of your brokenness Himself. Period. With no help from anyone. The Father sends His own Son to the cross. Jesus bore your sin. He carried it alone. – To the cross of Calvary. There He died for you. 

There He wins salvation for the entire world. And on the third day. He rose from the dead to prove to you that this freedom. This forgiveness. This new life. Has been credited to you.

God is completely responsible for your salvation. From front to back! You don’t one-day wake up and decide to follow Jesus – Rather, He plants the seed of faith in your heart by the power of His Holy Spirit. 

He then nourishes that faith by giving you His eternal Word, which is able to make you wise unto salvation. This is what St. Paul reminds us when he tells us in Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Leona understood grace. She attempted to live gracefully among us. Summed up for us by St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians. “I have been crucified with Christ. That is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith. By adhering to.  Relying upon.  And completely trusting in the Son of God. Who loved me. And gave Himself up for me.” 

Because Jesus lives. Leona lives in Him. Because Jesus reigns. Leona reigns with Him. Because Jesus holds all things. He will hallow you. In the palm of His hands.   

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