"The MIGHTY Lord is with us; the God of Jacob is our FORTRESS." Psalm 46:7

Lydia Tuhey Funeral
Rev. Dr. D. K. Schroeder
Mark 10:13-16 Sermon
February 19, 2014

Congregational Hymns:
How Great Thou Art
Onward Christian Soldiers 

            TEXT:  "And [the people] were bringing children to [Jesus] that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them.  But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, 'Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.  Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.' And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.

            In Christ Jesus, dear Troy, Tori, family and friends of Lydia Tuhey:

            If you have ever had the opportunity, or perhaps I should say the misfortune of buying a complicated new gadget, it can sometimes take a while to figure it all out, even when you read all of the instructions.  Things can become very difficult, and we can find ourselves feeling rather frustrated.  Sometimes wading through the instructions almost takes a post-graduate degree in translating hieroglyphics.  That's about the time that you throw up your hands in frustration, and you call the 12 year-old neighbor kid to come over and figure it out for you.  And you know as well as I do that there is a lot of truth to that statement.  It's amazing what children can teach us.

            We live in a world that is filled with all sorts of complicated gadgets.  We have computers in our homes and at work.  We have high-definition digital televisions, DVR's, game consoles, cable converters, and satellite dishes.  Our kitchens have microwave ovens, digital coffee makers, and programmable crock pots.  Even our cars are so high-tech that we're lucky we can add a quart of oil or air up the tires by ourselves any more.  And it's not likely to get any easier for the older generation either.  So we wonder how the kids of today are able to do what they do in their own simple basic ways.  Kids can be so awesome when they are able to tackle the complex things of this world with their simplicity.

            This morning, we are here to bid our earthly farewell to a very special lady indeed.  When I got together with Troy and Tori the other day, I had the opportunity to witness what they had to say about their mother.  Over and over again the subject came back to how much Lydia loved children, and how they were a bright spot in her life.  One of the first things mentioned was how Lydia was the "neighborhood mom" when her children were young.  And I cannot think of a better compliment to give someone such as Lydia.

            One of the things in her brief obituary that was on the mortuary's website that caught my eye, was about her serving as a Sunday School teacher for many years.  Certainly there are a lot of ways a person can give their time and energy for the good of young children, and Lydia definitely did that.  But the one thing she shared that was deep down and very personal was her faith in Jesus her Saviour.  And as she sat with her young students, she was able to open up a whole new world to them from a very old source.  She had the honor and privilege to share the truths God caused to be recorded in the Bible with them.  Through her act of sharing, she was able to bring about change in the lives of these children that would impact their entire future.  In Lydia's life, children were a precious commodity whom she dearly loved.

            The section of Scripture I chose for this morning's sermon was almost a natural.   It's the story about Jesus interacting with the children.  Parents were bringing their children to Jesus, but the disciples were trying to keep them away.  Most likely they thought that Jesus was far too important and busy to be concerned about simple children.  And how wrong they were!

            Jesus is using this story to illustrate two very important things.  First, that children are a very important part of God's kingdom.  And second, the importance of a child-like faith for the adult world.  Jesus used the children coming to him to teach his disciples how basic a saving faith is.  The children here weren't the ones who needed the lesson; it was the adults who needed to be taught!

            People lose sight of this all the time.  I find it incredible how often people want to take the child-like qualities of the Christian faith and complicate things to the point where everybody has their own ideas of what a saving faith is, and nobody really knows what's going on.  Isn't our world complicated enough without adding a lot of self-imposed rules and rites and rewards to the Christian faith? 

            One of the more noted contemporary theologians is Dr. Karl Barth.  He was being interviewed one day, and was asked the question:  "What is the most profound theological statement you've ever seen or heard?"  Dr. Barth paused a moment; then he said:  "Jesus loves me, this I know; for the Bible tells me so."   Even the great and scholarly Dr. Karl Barth found the children's Sunday School song "Jesus loves me" to be a very deep theological statement in his life.

            The Bible gives us some rather sharp words when it comes to our human condition.  If we look at the 3rd chapter of Romans, we first read verses 10-12:  “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”   And then we go to verse 23:  "...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."  And if that's not bad enough, Jesus has some equally troubling words in Matthew chapter 5, verse 48:  "You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." 

            As we remember Lydia, we would like to think that her life was useful, exemplary, just, and upright.  There are indeed many virtues to her credit.  But there is still that flaw of sin that exists.  All of the good things she did cannot make up for the infection of sin.  If Lydia had to count on her own virtues to enter heaven, those gates would remain forever closed.  The world likes to see good works as merit for heaven, but that just won't pass muster with God.

            Maybe we don't like to think of Lydia as a sinful human being.  But she knew she was.  She knew she wasn't perfect.  She knew she hadn't squared up to the standards God set forth.  Left on her own, her future would be hopeless and dismal.

            So let's get back to the children now, and see what a child-like faith is really about.  You see, the future of the Christian is not hopeless and dismal, because the Christian faith is based upon grace, and not upon merit.  In Ephesians chapter 2, verses 8-9 we read:   "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."   

            A child-like faith isn't one that tries to keep score of rights and wrongs, but is rather a faith that looks to Jesus Christ alone for forgiveness and salvation.  We are saved, not because of what we have done, but because of what Jesus has done on our behalf.  When we appear before God the righteous judge, we know that we will be judged according to Christ's righteousness, and not our sinfulness.  And that is about the brightest future one can have!  We have our ticket to heaven because Christ bought and paid for it with his blood.  And even though it cost Jesus everything, it costs us nothing.

            Dr. Karl Barth quoted the first line of "Jesus Loves Me" in his interview.  Listen to the words of the second stanza of "Jesus Loves Me:"  "Jesus loves me, he who died, heaven's gates to open wide; he will wash away my sin, let his little child come in."  A child-like faith grasps that all-important truth with both hands, because that's the faith that will sustain a person in this life and take them safely to their mansion in heaven for the life to come.

            In Matthew chapter 7 verses 13-14, Jesus says these words:   "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few."

            So what is the wide gate?  People who say, "well, one religion is as good as another," or "any religion is okay as long as you are sincere" are heading down the wide path to destruction.  The narrow door is the only way to heaven, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ, and that's it.  No good works a person does or following a religion that's just "close" to Christianity will do it.  In John chapter 14 verse 6 Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me. "   The Christian faith is exclusive, and that's the cold hard reality of it.

            In Acts chapter 16, we read about the Biblical woman named Lydia who was a faithful and devout follower of Jesus.  She loved serving her Lord.  I think much the same can be said about her namesake here today.

            Today, just for a moment place yourself in Lydia Tuhey's Sunday School class.  Today, become a little child yourself and absorb the forgiving love of Jesus.  Get rid of the human notions and wild ideas and anti-Biblical philosophies.  When the Holy Spirit comes knocking on the door of your soul, don't deny him entrance into your life.

           Lydiahad a love of children, and she was an influence on countless numbers of young souls.  In her life, wherever she went and whatever she was doing, every child she happened to be around saw the child-like faith she had. 

            Follow her example; and like a child, come and sit at your Saviour's feet.  Know his incredible and incomprehensible love for you.  Experience his forgiveness.  And with Lydia, you can proclaim your child-like faith with those words of the Sunday School song: "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so; little ones to him belong, they are weak but he is strong.  Jesus loves me, he who died, heaven's gates to open wide, he will wash away my sin, let his little child come in."      

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