Her obituary read, 'Sylvia M. Amon (Langer), 73, passed away on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009, at Maine Medical Center in Portland following cardiac surgery.'
Sylvia died of a troubled heart. Stints, bypasses, leaky valves are all indications that she had a troubled heart. But Jesus said, "Let not your heart be troubled." He was, of course, talking about a different kind of heart trouble than kind that Sylvia had.
When Jesus said, "let not your hearts be troubled," He was in an upper room with His disciples and they were worried.
To say that your heart should not be troubled at the death of your mother, grandmother, friend, sister in Christ, can be take as being quite callous and insensitive. Especially if you believe that there is nothing more than this life, and that at 73 years old, there's still a lot more life to be lived.
But if, when you say, "let not your heart be troubled," you mean to say that death is not the end of life, that it is the door that we must walk through to a greater and more glorious life, then we may hear such words as the consolation that they are. And that is precisely what Jesus means when He says, "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me."
Death has been overcome by the One whom God sent into this world because of His love for the world. Jesus Christ has died on the cross and risen from the dead as the substitute for Sylvia, and for you and me too. He has atoned for all of her sins and ours. He offers Himself to us for free. And along with Jesus Christ we receive His Father and His Spirit as well. And to all who receive Him, who believe in His name, He gives the right to become children of God. And children of God do not die. They pass through door of death from life to life.
On Sunday evening, Sylvia went out the door of her dream house on Great Pond for the last time. On Wednesday afternoon, Syliva went through the door of death and entered into her Father's dream house where she will dwell forever. Jesus had a room in His Father's house all prepared just for her. He prepared it with hammer and nails, sword and spear, and a thorny crown. Jesus prepared Sylvia's room with His blood shed for her. There, in the Father's house, her life is lived in unsurpassing glory and indescribable bliss. There, life is full and complete, without sickness or sorrow, without pain or problems, no trials or troubles. Sylvia has finally moved into her true dream house.
So, on the night of His betrayal, on the eve of His crucifixion, our Lord said to the disciples, "Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God believe also in Me." Jesus knew the suffering and pain that awaited Him. He knew the agony of the cross that He must endure and the cup of wrath God's wrath which He must drink to its dregs. He knew the cold, stone tomb His ragged body would be laid out in. He knew that their hearts would be troubled by His death.
But He also knew that he would rise from the dead after three days. Because by His death He would overcome death. And by His resurrection from the dead, He burst open not only the door to His grave, but also the door to the kingdom of heaven. And knowing that, believing that, trusting in that, they should rejoice and be glad. And so should you. Because Jesus Christ has opened the door to the kingdom of heaven for Sylvia.
One of the disciples whose name was Thomas was confused. "Thomas said to him, 'Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?"
Don't be confused about where Sylvia has gone. On Sunday afternoon, I visited her in her home. She talked about her options, her fears, her worries, her doubts. And then she confessed her sins and received the Lord's Supper. We talked about that episode in St. Luke gospel where when Jesus was just 40 days old his parents brought Him to the temple in Jerusalem for dedication. A man whose name was Simeon lived in Jerusalem. He had somehow been told that he would not die until he had seen the Lord's Christ. Then one day a young couple came to the temple with their infant son. Simeon happened to be at the temple too. And somehow Simeon knew that this was no ordinary child. Going to the mother, whose name was Mary, he took the baby from her and held Jesus in his hands and said,
"Lord, now let your servant depart in peace according to your word.
For my eyes have seen your salvation…"
Just like Simeon, Sylvia held the Lord Christ in her hands and His body and blood passed over her lips. We talked together about how whether the surgery was successful or not, she could depart in peace, for her eyes have seen the Lord's salvation.
Where Sylvia has gone, you cannot yet go, at least, not yet. Nonetheless, where she has gone, you know. And the way you know. She has gone to her Father's house. She has gone by way of the death and by way of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, her Lord and her Savior. Jesus has taken her soul to His Father's house and one day, He raise up her body from these ashes and take that to His Father's house as well. And when He does, it will be a glorified body. No more troubled heart. And who knows, she might just be a bit taller too. For Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the only One who opens the door to the Kingdom of heaven and through Him we must pass from life to life. "For no one comes to the Father but by me."
So, do not let your hearts be troubled. It is better for her now that it was. Sylvia no longer needs our prayers. Her troubles are over and her joy is without end. She is relieved of the sicknesses and sorrows that surround us here on earth. Now, she is surrounded by an even greater joy the animals and the birds, being surrounded by the sights and songs of the angels of heaven in the great congregation of all saints.
Your time has not yet come. But it surely will. The effects of sin will have its effect on you just as it does everyone, because everyone sins. But just as surely as death entered the world through one man's sin, whose name was Adam, death no longer has dominion over us because One man has taken away the sin of the world. has been overcome and our sins have been its effects nullified by the righteousness of the one man, whose name is Jesus Christ Where Sylvia has gone, you can go too. For the death Jesus died, He died for all.
St. Paul reminds us that while we are still in this body, which he refers to as a tent, 'we groan, being burdened,' until 'what is mortal is swallowed up in life.' Today, we rejoice and give all thanks and praise to God, that Sylvia Amon's days of groaning are over, her burdens have been lifted from her shoulders and she has been swallowed up in life.