Funeral sermon for Louise Damaschke

The Good Shepherd loves His sheep
John 10:11-16 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me-- 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father-- and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”
Shrek the sheep became famous several years ago when he was found after hiding out in caves for six years. Shrek had wandered away from his shepherd and flock. The shepherd searched and searched, but assumed that the sheep had died. Shrek had managed to survive on his own for those six years … but just barely. He was malnourished and wary of strangers, and even other sheep. During that long time without having his wool shorn, it was all matted, covering his eyes and down to his knees, and filled with thistles and twigs.
When he was finally found and shaved, his fleece weighed an amazing sixty pounds. Most sheep have a fleece weighing just under ten pounds. For six years, Shrek carried the extra weight of his fleece, he had less strength because of his poor diet, and he had to fend for himself against any kind of predators – which if you know anything about sheep, they cannot do. All because he was away from his shepherd.
Do you ever feel like Shrek the sheep? Do you ever feel lost, alone, afraid? Weighed down with burdens and cares and worries? Malnourished and weak? Wary of others reaching out to you? Of course you do. We all feel that way at times. And for good reason. The Bible says, “All we like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6).
We hurt. We despair. We are weighed down. We get into trouble. And we wonder, “Why? What have I done to deserve this? What am I doing wrong?” Hopefully we then begin to open our eyes and really look at our situation more clearly. Because we have gone our own way, our wandering has led us out of the pasture and into a barren wilderness. God wants us to enjoy the nourishment He has provided in the pastures of His holy Word. He wants us to enjoy peace and safety with fellow Christians in the flock of His Christian Church. He wants us to be cared for by a pastor who is the Good Shepherd’s under-shepherd. But our wandering away from the Shepherd, His flock, food and protection gets us into trouble. And there is much trouble to get into these days.
Many of our troubles are brought on by ourselves and our sins. Some of our struggles are because we are living in a sinful world that is a dark valley of death. And sometimes we are tormented by the devil and his pack of demonic wolves who are attacking us on all sides. We are not only wandering in the barren wilderness … but we are wandering alone, lost, afraid, weighed down, without nourishment, attacked by wolves, and without a Shepherd to protect us. We have been following our own way down the path of pain, sorrow, and suffering … and eventually to hell.
We are like sheep. And sheep need to be tended. We need a Shepherd. We need someone to keep us from wandering, someone to point out the dangers, someone to remove the weight of the word’s pressures, someone to feed and nourish us, someone to lead us in the right direction, in the safe direction, towards green pastures.
Sheep need a shepherd. And not just any shepherd, but a good one, a faithful one, one who loves the sheep. A shepherd who loves his sheep so much that he is even willing to die for them.
Louise needed a shepherd. She needed someone to watch over her, care for her, feed and nourish her, love her … and who would lay down His life for her. There is such a shepherd in Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd.
The Good Shepherd brought Louise into His flock in her baptism on August 10, 1918. She was confirmed in her Lutheran faith on May 28, 1933 at St. John’s Lutheran Church on the north side of Racine. After Paul and Louise were married, they moved to Taylor Ave. and joined Epiphany Lutheran Church, which was only about 5 houses from their new home. For decades, the Damaschke family could walk to church and sit in the pews worshiping before Epiphany’s beautiful stained glass window of Jesus as the Good Shepherd.
Louise loved her Savior. She would read God’s Word regularly at home from the Bible or from a stack of devotional books. She loved to pray, and she made sure the children would always say their prayers before eating. She loved to play the piano, singing at home, singing as a substitute in Epiphany’s choir, singing so loudly in the pews that she would embarrass her children.  
Louise was about serving. She helped and cared for other people. Whether it was taking care of her kids or serving in the Red Cross or the USO or as a candy striper in the hospital or sending clothing to relatives in Germany. She learned that serving from her Savior.
Our Lord Jesus is even more so about serving. Jesus served Louise and He serves you, by laying His life down for you – His sheep. Jesus had seen the wolves advancing upon you. He is not a hired hand who cares nothing for the sheep and runs away. He gives you real, lasting and eternal comfort by dying for you.
Here we see the greatness of our Good Shepherd. In His death, the Savior ensnares our enemies. Although He, Himself, is captured, He captures the devil. Although He dies, He destroys death. Although He is slain, He undoes the work of the grave. Although He takes our sins, He endures our punishment. Although we deserve it, He suffers it. Although the hired hands flee, He remains at His post. He is fixed in place as our Savior. He is nailed to the cross as our Redeemer.
He gives us life by dying our death. He gives us His seat of honor at the wedding feast of the Lamb by being forsaken by His heavenly Father. He washes our filthy lives of sin clean through His baptismal waters. He feeds us with His broken body and shed blood. His suffering is our healing. His death is our life. His resurrection is our hope. All that is wrong with us is made right in Him.
Though we wander, He searches. Though we stray, He finds. Though we push away, He pulls us back. Though we enjoy the polluted waters and unhealthy meals of this world, He nourishes us through the Word and bread and wine and water of life which is His holy Word and Sacraments.
Sheep wander and we sin. The cure for wandering is not finding our own way back. The cure for sin is not trying to live a better life. The cure for hurting hearts is not doing more. The cure for despair is not wishful thinking or positive attitudes among the sheep. God is not our moral coach. He is not our therapist. The cure for our broken lives, our hurting hearts, our sinful conditions is our Savior. The cure for lost sheep is always their Shepherd.
When Shrek the sheep was found, a professional sheep shearer finally removed the 60 pound fleece. All it took was coming home to his shepherd.
All it takes is coming home with our Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd always has a plan for His sheep. That plan may not always be our plan, and so we must trust that the Lord’s ways are better than our ways. It was not Louise’s plan that Paul die at such a young age. Yet, Louise had faith in her Savior, and the Lord took care of His precious lamb and made sure that Louise was well-taken care of financially through being frugal, through insurance, the stock market, social security, inheritance from sisters, etc.
But now, Louise through faith in her Savior, she is well-taken care of for all eternity. She is gathered around the throne of the Lamb of God. She is with Paul, her brother and sisters. She doesn’t have to cook for them, for the banquet feast has been prepared for her by Jesus. She doesn’t have to be concerned that Don or Ellie are eating enough, for she has no cares or concerns for she is in paradise where there is no worrying or mourning or weeping or pain. She is no longer homebound for she is home. She is gathered with all the saints and the angels, worshiping her Good Shepherd who laid down His life for her.

She is singing with the angelic and saintly choir. … And she can sing as loudly as she wants. Amen. 

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