Scripture: Luke 24:1-12
Sermon: A Lived Easter
by Pastor Todd Buurstra

On June 10, 2010, my Aunt Wilma would have turned 90. The Lord took this saint home to be with Jesus, and the two husbands and son who died before her, on March 20, 2010.

My Aunt Wilma was a character. She was feisty as all get out. Play cards with her, and she wanted to win so bad, this saint would cheat! This bugged my dad who would say, Wim, you’ve got an Ace on the bottom; cut the deck! She’d pretend she couldn’t hear him. And then, she called the police on her own son when he took the keys from her because she was no longer a safe driver. The police called Doug and threatened to arrest him, until Doug explained that he was the County Prosecutor, and gave them 7 witnesses to her reckless driving. The policeman ended the phone call with Ah, I guess then I should say thanks for taking your mom off the road.

I wonder if Jesus waited until almost 90 to take her because he had to build up the courage? But honestly, I know he welcomed Wilma with open arms because she lived Easter.

May I tell you how? She was born in 1920 as Wilma DeBoer, one of two sets of twins in this pioneering family of 12. Her dad ran the General Store, and she grew up with her pony, Harry. About the time that she was memorizing her catechism in the Leota Christian School the Depression struck. As she struggled to remember the meaning of Easter, her chief joy, other than her pony–Harry, was the penny candy she got rewarded with for correct answers. Around this era she and Uncle Willis, her twin, came home very late in the buggy behind Harry. Great Grandpa Nick was so upset that he pulled Willis off the buggy, reached for the first board from the pile, forgot to check for rusty nails, and whack, Yaowww! Grandpa Nick was so sorry that Wilma got to sneak away with no punishment. She was resurrected to new life, you might say.

Her life can be divided into the points of this catechetical meaning of Jesus’ resurrection:
Jesus has overcome death. Though she never said it exactly, knowing how deep her faith became, I have to believe that the Depression and World War II strengthened her reliance upon Jesus’ victory over death. Maybe, more precisely, Jesus helped her overcome a fear of death. What with her husband in the Army in Europe, and her twin brother dropping bombs there also, death was a constant possibility. So she moved in with my mother and Grandmother, and they lived on base, and sang Up from the grave he arose with a mighty triumph o’er his foes in the chapel. When stateside, her twin would fly low over church as they sang to drown them out. What were her prayers every night for Jerry and Willis? How did she face each anxious new day, reading headlines of more casualties, but for the faith in the One who overcame death?

By Christ’s power we are resurrected to new life. On a springy April day, 42 years ago, one of Wilma’s three children, 18 year old Craig, and her husband, Jerry, were delivering an organ in Grand Rapids. As they came around a blind curve there was a semi across the road. Their van went under the semi and severed their necks immediately. At 47 Wilma had to bury a husband and a son on the same day. She could have cursed God, stopped going to church, quit her Bible study, but she didn’t. By Christ’s power alone, she eventually resurrected, took over the business after Jerry’s partner tried to swindle her, made a handsome profit, and married another handsome man. All because she believed in the resurrection of all resurrections!

Christ’s resurrection guarantees our resurrection. Having stared death in the face in war and peace, I know that Aunt Wilma did not fear it. Why? Long ago she had memorized that she had a guarantee, more certain than the FDIC. And so she planned her own funeral with this list of her favorite verses. And they sang, Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, because he lives, all fear is gone, because I know he holds the future, and life is worth the living just… That, my friends, is a lived Easter. May you let Jesus and his church help you do the same.

Audio Recordings:
Learn how you can listen to the audio files streamed over the Internet, download files to your computer or download files to your portable media player. Visit our Podcast page for complete details.

DVD recordings of the Sunday services are also available. Please contact Bruce Taggart at (908) 685-3165 with questions.