12142018 Funeral for Mary Lou Isernhagen

Funeral for Mary Lou Isernhagen

Sermon Audio
December 14, 2018

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer!!  AMEN!!

Let us pray!  Heavenly Father, we gather here at Emmanuel knowing that our steps that brought us here today are part of a journey that began long ago.  Today we gather with many memories of Mary Lou’s life where her steps took her to many different places and in many different directions, but now finds completion with her entrance into the church triumphant.  As we mourn her passing, may Your Word and Holy Spirit help each of us to see and feel Your grace showered upon Mary Lou and us and bind us to the truth that You have set all of us free through our baptism into Your life, death and resurrection.  Where now in eternal life with her beloved Ray and their daughter Bonnie, they all may journey together along the back roads of. Sherman County by the light of theirs and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ Who now lovingly holds all of them and one day each of us in His loving arms.  AMEN.

It is very clear that we gather here today with a heaviness upon our hearts because of the entrance into the church triumphant of our Sister in Christ, Mary Lou.  I told Marsha and Susan, I would love to have been a fly on the wall in heaven when she arrived, because I could imagine the conversation between her and God. God would have said, “It’s about time Mary Lou”, and Mary Lou just as resolutely and tenaciously would respond, “I wasn’t ready”.  

Mary Lou Isernhagen with her unique nature of independence when I first arrived here in Goodland in 2010 introduced me to a saying that epitomized her long life and became an on going thread in our steps and journey together along the path of life.  She said to me standing in the back alley as she loaned me her Book of Concord for my ordination, that in her words, ‘she had the world by its tail’.

What was so startling was that you could see the ‘fire in her eyes’, the belief that she clearly was fully in control of life, living it the way she wanted and nothing was going to change this reality for her.  It is clear she would continue to make decisions for as long as God allowed. What I and others did not know was that God had a unique journey with many more steps ahead of her epitomized in a reading from Ecclesiastes.  We heard it earlier, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” and for Mary Lou the next seven years of steps changed her life, but a change that kept one thing in focus for her, as she told me many times when I would visit, “She was a very blessed” person.

The blessings of her life she had clearly documented through journals and telling the story of her life from a small girl growing up in rural northwest Kansas where she was as the lesson said, “a time to be born”. Growing up she attended many of the churches here in town that she saw as part of her opportunity as we heard, “a time to build up” in later years.  She was a trailblazer in being asked as a Senior to teach in one of the many one room school houses that dotted the plains and going to Washington DC to do her part for the war effort with the National Weather Service. When she married Ray after the war and his return to Sherman County they put down roots not in fear, but in faith. For Mary Lou, fear was not a word in her vocabulary.  But why was this the case? Simply it wasn’t because she was superhuman, it simply was because God gave Mary Lou the assurance of His presence and peace, because she was a child of God, baptized by the Blood of the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. For it is this promise of God made to her on the day of her baptism that we gather here to lay claim to today for all of us, but especially for and unto Mary Lou.

The assurance Mary Lou felt of God’s love was planted in her heart and upon her life like a seed that enabled her to stand with the assurances of God and in all of her life to make decisions that glorified God.  Not everyone agreed with nor understood Mary Lou at all times including her family and her friends as well many others in life. Yet one thing is certain, Mary Lou when asked was willing to give advice to those willing to listen.  She lived to bless others in order for others to be blessed by what she had been given not only in life, but even after her death. This came because of her personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And this is what was witnessed with every step and decision she made whether about the land she owned, the home where she lived and even in how she showed her love to people that were willing to accept her as God’s child and build a relationship with her knowing that the outside may seem hard or impenetrable, but the inside by the grace of GOD was a gift from God that wanted to share God’s blessings and be in relationship and step together in faith on the journey of life.

Paul in his letter to the Romans holds this truth of relationship up for us today reminding us that Jesus Christ intercedes for us and offers for us the gift of grace given to us on the Cross of Calvary.  Jesus Christ offer of forgiveness is meant to be a clear beacon for all of the grace that God wants to be a blessing to and for each of us. Yet of what importance is this for us today? Why should this matter?  Simply it is because God’s gift unto Mary Lou was in teaching, not just the migrant children, not only many of the children of Emmanuel and USD#352, but clearly by her love of her family and the pride she told and took in each and every accomplishment of their lives when they would share it in person or on the phone.  And she learned how to do this, because of the gift of grace her Lord and Savior had freely given her life and how He, God had blessed her and enabled her to bless others, one step at a time.

I once asked Mary Lou what she wanted her legacy to be when her time here on earth was complete.  With typical Mary Lou fashion, one could see the wheels turning in her mind. Yet, the answer she shared wasn’t what one might think.  Mary Lou’s desire was that others would be blessed as she had felt she was her entire life through the many adventures with her family, her dedication to the children she saw as a legacy for a bright future and how children are our future.  Because it was God’s love for her she wanted to share with others who were willing to be loved by God and be a blessing for others in order for His Glory to be revealed through her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

For the truth is, today in our sight, we are afforded the greatest opportunity to celebrate today solely and simply the blessing that God offered Mary Lou and each of us through the offer of grace through what Jesus Christ offers us and all of mankind on the Cross of Calvary.  For it is the blessing from God that we are enabled to share with others and as Mary Lou did ‘grab the world by the tail’, ‘bloom where we are planted’, ‘bless others’ and firmly believe that God fulfills today King David’s Psalm in our sight. Today Mary Lou, child of God now dwells in the house of the Lord forever, with Ray, with Bonnie and one day with each of us as we have been blessed as we take this final step of our journey on this earth with her today.  AMEN!

Now may the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding comfort us today as we celebrate Mary Lou’s continued eternal journey with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!  AMEN.