Funeral Sermon. February 11, 2016.
In Memoriam +Evelyn Macmillan
Blackburn-Giegrich Funeral Home
Romans 5:1-11; John 11:17-27
February 11, 2016
Dear Gary, Nina, and all of Evelyn’s family and friends,
Members of St. Peter:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
God’s Word for our comfort this morning are the words of Jesus from the Gospel of St. John: I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.
It’s right today for us to carry an ache and sorrow in our hearts at Evelyn’s death. It’s true that she lived a long life and that no one can live in this world forever.
And yet when you love someone, you never want to be parted from them. That’s the nature of love. In the Bible it says, “Love never ends.” (1 Cor. 13) And again, “Love is strong as death; jealousy is fierce as the grave.” (Song of Solomon 8) It’s speaking about God’s love, of which our love as fallen human beings is only a faint reflection. Yet even our weak human love wants to always have the person it loves.
You loved Evelyn and you received love from Evelyn, each in your own way. She loved Ron her husband. She loved her children, whom she raised and cared for. She loved her grandchildren and her dear friends. She loved her church, which she served faithfully for decades in the Ladies’ Aid.
So even though she lived a long life and her life was difficult in her last years, it is right that we ache at the thought of not seeing her again in this life.
Besides that, death is a fearful thing. People often act like it isn’t these days. “I’m not afraid to die,” they say. But when death comes for them things are different. And when we see people close to us die it begins to make us anxious about our own death.
–What the catechumen told me last night—I asked, what do you think is the hardest thing about dying? What would you be most afraid of if you were dying? A girl said, “That I might not go to heaven.”
–That fear often nags at us. There is the fear of dying and nothingness, but there is also the fear of facing God’s judgment for our many sins.
But we need not have that fear for Evelyn.
In the Gospel reading Martha reproaches Jesus: “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” She is not far from the truth. Jesus has the power to prevent death (but He doesn’t need to be visibly present to do it.)
But Jesus answered: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live even though He dies. And whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” Those who believe in Him are alive even when they die, because He is the Life. He is the Resurrection.
Evelyn has life now even though she has died.
Why? She believed in Christ.
Because of Jesus, death and God’s judgment was taken away from her.
Why? Because Jesus atoned for her sins. Romans 5:8-9 But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God.
God’s judgment and wrath was taken away by Jesus’ suffering and death in her place, for her sins.
Where God’s judgment and sin are gone, death is no longer death. Because what makes death death—the wrath and judgment of God—are removed. And after death follows the resurrection from the dead.
That is why for a Christian there is “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 5:1) We have peace with God through Jesus’ blood even when it does not appear that we have peace in this world.
There is peace when there is pain and hardship in life, and there is life even while we are dying.
Because our sins are gone and God’s wrath is gone.
That’s why Paul says Christians rejoice in their sufferings—not because suffering is fun, but because God is not against us, but for us in our sufferings. He makes them work for our good.
Evelyn has life now and more life to come. No one can take away the life we have through faith in Jesus.
We have life in Him in pain and sorrow. We have life because our souls are united to Him who is the Life.
We have life on the last day, when He will raise Evelyn and all the dead, and give everlasting life and glory to those who believed in Him.
So she has life now, and we may rejoice for her as well as sorrow.
And despite our fear of death, our doubts and our weakness, there is life for us who believe in Jesus.
We can’t take away our sins nor death.
But Jesus has done it. Nothing remains to be done.
And He did it not in response to anything good we had done but “while we were yet sinners.”
When we were baptized He pledged that His death and resurrection are ours.
So we hold fast to His Word and promise and “rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” That is what we hope for. But even now in the midst of our sufferings we possess His life because we grasp Him by faith.
Many times people are uncertain and doubtful about whether they will get to heaven. We should not be for Jesus’ sake. With Paul we should rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. We have a certain hope given in Jesus’ death for our sins and His resurrection from the dead.
We will see God’s glory through the blood of Christ and we will see Evelyn, whom you loved, sharing in that glory.
The peace of God that passes understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria