In Memoriam: +Joseph F. Cy Simonis+
John 5:24-27, John 11:25-26
Note for members: +Joseph Simonis is the husband of Charlotte, formerly Harter, the step-father of Redeemer member Laura Greer. Joseph and Charlotte were married at Redeemer and were long time members who transferred membership to Florida some years ago when they retired there. They resided in Wolcotville during the summer months. This summer Joseph grew ill. I was called to the hospital and ministered there to him in the week before he died. He went to Our Father’s place on Wednesday October 25. The funeral is Saturday, October 28. Blessed are those who die in the Lord!
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
The Victory of Our Lord Jesus Christ was missed by most. For it came in an unexpected way. It came in His death. In that cruel crucifixion, by the kangaroo court that condemned the only truly innocent Man ever to live, in that seeming defeat, He won the battle for mankind’s soul. There He purchased and won us for Himself. He snatched us from the jaws of the devil and eternal damnation. And likewise, Cy’s victory. The world thinks this a sad day. It wails and laments at having lost another good man. And we weep and mourn, too, but not as the world mourns, for we have hope. We do not weep this day for Cy. For him, we rejoice. For the salvation Jesus won on the cross has now been delivered to him. He sins no more. He suffers no more. He now enjoys perfect forgiveness and bliss at His Savior’s side. No, we do not weep for Cy. We weep for ourselves and the suffering that has been appointed to us that we must still endure. And, in the thick of it all, we have peace. For we know that those who cling to Jesus do not die, but merely pass through death to life.
All of the pagans, too, have no doubt that Cy is in a “better place.” They just don’t know where that is. They assume that he must be in a “better place” because they can imagine nothing else, and he was a good man. They look at his good deeds, his contribution to this community, and his reputation. They think these certainly must have impressed God, that he was good enough. Cy, of course, knew, and still knows, better. He never would have made such a vain claim. Instead he confessed: “I am a poor, miserable sinner.” He would tell you that his deeds, his works, his love and faith, were not enough.
First of all, no one can ever work off all the evil he has done. We are guilty of a thousand and one little callous remarks and sarcasms, little abuses and neglects, vain thoughts, and manipulations. Each individual misdeed is in itself deserving of eternal damnation. But in addition to that, even our good deeds are tainted by sin. Our motives are never perfectly pure. Mark Twain once said, “There are two reasons for everything that I do: the real one, and the one that sounds good.” Our works cannot save us. They can only condemn us. They are never enough.
There is only one way to be saved. There is only one way into heaven. It is through Jesus Christ. There is no other Name under heaven by which we can be saved. There is no other god, no other path, no bargaining position, no other paradise or heaven. Jesus’ perfect life and death, His love and mercy, His unfailing Grace is enough. It covers our sin, washes us clean, and names us as His own. By faith in Him – and in none other – we receive this Grace and are counted as righteous, holy, and innocent by Him. Not by works or righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us. For Jesus’ sake, by His sacrifice, we are forgiven.
Thus Jesus says to Martha: “I AM the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies.” And by the working of the Holy Spirit, Martha in faith replies: “Yes, Lord! I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world!”
Behold, I tell you a mystery. Cy was born into death and lived in death until he was brought to life, according to the Promise of the Holy Scriptures, through the waters of Holy Baptism. But even then, he lived in death, awaiting the fulfillment of that Promise. But now that he has died, he is no longer dead. He lives. He has passed through this live of death into real and lasting life, into perfect life, by the glory of the One who gave His life for Cy. And now, he will never die, but live forever without sorrow, without shame or regret, without pain . . . without sin. His future is endless and perfect.
And if you hold this faith, if you say with Martha and Cy, “Yes, Lord! I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who has come into the world!” then you will see him again. For Jesus, true Man, born of the Virgin Mary, and true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, is the Christ, the Messiah, that is, the promised Anointed Sacrifice who has given His life for yours. He has paid the ransom. He has broken the chains of death that tied you down. He has opened heaven. He died on that cross to pay for your transgressions, to present you to Himself as a pure, undefiled, chaste Bride. But He did not stay dead. He rose. He now abides at the right hand of the Father, and there He pleads your case. The Father’s wrath is appeased and the Father also loves you. He sends the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, to lead you into this, the way of Truth. And by His working, faith is kindled and men are comforted with God’s own holy Love. Finally, those who confess and hope in this holy faith, as Cy did, shall also rise to the same glory, for Jesus Christ, our God, the only God, the living God of the living, is also our Brother.
Thus the Christian stands on the edge of the grave and in his sadness knows peace, joy, and hope. He mocks the grave. It has lost its sting. It is not the end. Life waits on the other side. Soon, we, too, shall go to the place prepared for us and be reunited with the saints who have gone before us, to those who also confessed that Jesus is Lord and who now bask in His presence! Praise God. He does all things well. Cy has come to his rest.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Rev’d David H. Petersen, Pastor
Redeemer Lutheran Church
Ft. Wayne, Indiana