Tammy Nitz, also known as Miss Baroda at one point in time. Beauty: it’s a commodity our culture is not giving up on any time soon, but God has been telling us since the beginning of time that the true beauty of humanity does not lie on the surface of the body, but from within, because that is where God goes to work. That’s where the Holy Spirit is ignited within us to change the lives of those around us. That’s where compassion and love and relentless dedication flow from our very soul. That’s what made Tammy Nitz beautiful, not as a beauty queen of any sort, but as an absolutely precious child of God.
So we gather here today as her family and friends not because of the ugliness of death, but instead for the tremendous beauty we witnessed in her life, including her sheer determination to help us realize the beauty within us as well. That was humility: a commodity our world should never give up on treasuring in this life. We had it in Tammy Nitz, a humble mother and grandmother, who would always put the needs of her children and grandchildren before her own. Also Tammy knew first-hand how to appreciate with your whole heart what could be seen as humble conditions. Living in Baroda her whole life, she would find beauty in God’s Creation, leading to sheer enjoyment by simply being in a garden with flowers. Perhaps Tammy, in her own way, was telling us that it really is the simple things in life that make it the most beautiful.
And yet it wasn’t so simple, the love she showed to all of us. That kind of love tends to have an effect on people in a way we never realize. That kind of love shapes families for generations. That boundless love united Max and Tammy together for over fifty years. That selfless love helped raise wonderful children in Merry, Sherry, David, and Butch. That tenderhearted love ensured for the best memories with grandchildren that last a lifetime: for Dustin, Alex, Christina, and Peyton. But unfortunately that also means the more moving the love is, the more difficult it becomes to let go of such a person, not a beauty queen, but a cherished beautiful mother, grandmother, sister, an absolutely precious child of God; Tammy, claimed as God’s own by Jesus Christ from the beginning to the end and beyond.
However, over time we have developed this picture of Jesus in our minds because of what has been hanging on church walls all over the country from decades past. Jesus with this perfect-flowing blond hair and captivating eyes and neatly-trimmed beard, wearing the cleanest white robe. Nevertheless, I like to think that Jesus was incredibly dirty, his hands grimy, his hair all messed up, his clothes tattered, and his feet covered in disgusting filth, because He couldn’t help Himself from getting immersed into the thick and thin of our life. He couldn’t stop Himself from diving into the painful life circumstances of suffering and anguish and fear. He couldn’t hold back His passion for Tammy and for all of us to the point that He would die on the cross so that we might live.
And yet that’s the only way we have hope at all: that this Jesus Christ would entrench Himself into the ugliness and hideousness of death in order to bring us out to eternal life. This Savior of the whole world has made the Promise to walk into the darkest valley of the shadow of death, and take hold of the hand of all God’s children, including Tammy; to guide us into the most beautiful place of all: where there is no more suffering, no more death, and the only tears are those of uncontrollable joy, where beauty has been perfected.
Now they say true beauty cannot be seen because you can’t visibly see the true nature of a person, but you can. We did see Tammy’s beauty. We saw it in how she lived. We saw it in how she loved. We saw it in her smile and her genuine appreciation of us simply being there beside her even to the end. And still today we see it through her children and grandchildren. We still see God at work through the memories she instilled in all of us, constantly reminding us how Jesus went to work in Tammy. But now it’s come the time for our Lord to go to work for her, for her to rest after a life caring for others, for the Lord to take care of her now and for the rest of eternity. Nevertheless, ultimately today we give thanks to God for the beauty our Savior made us see through the life of Tammy Nitz, absolutely precious child of God forevermore! Amen.
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Rev. Nan Dehnke, Pastor
Office: Mon - Thu: 9 a.m. - Noon