Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

The following 'Funeral Sermon' is posted with family permission.  May the Lord give to the family of Harold Waswick, and all who mourn, comfort in their grief and a sure confidence in the Lord's loving care.  To listen to the 'Prayer Service Sermon' CLICK HERE.

Text: John 14:1-6

Geneva, Jerry, Jim, Cheryl, family, and friends, grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Some well-meaning people will try to tell us that death is just a natural part of life that it is something we simply need to accept and deal with.  But if that were true, we should not be here mourning the loss of Harold.  In fact, if death is just a natural part of life, then we really should not show any concern over the death of loved one.  If it is just a natural part of life, we should just shrug our shoulders with apathy, the same way nature seems to not care about the death of a sparrow.

And yet regardless of people telling us that death is a natural part of life, we find ourselves mourning this day.  In fact, we take time off from work and school to gather together in a funeral service such as this.  The reason why? Because a precious family member and friend has been taken away; because death has swallowed another victim.  And each of us feels that pain and sadness of separation in our own way. 

Therefore, what you feel today is not the way things should be.  It most definitely is not.  In other words, death is not natural; it is not just another part of life.  Death and sadness and mourning are not what God created you for.  You see, God never created any of us to die.

That is why there is that cramp of pain inside you that shadow of anxiety lurking about.  Because when we see a loved one, like Harold, taken down by the grave, we are reminded that it is just a matter of time before death comes for us as well. 

And as we consider death, we must confess that no matter how brave we are death still stirs up our hearts and minds.  Death strips calmness and confidence from us and disturbs our thoughts. 

Dear friends, we were not created for death; Harold was not created for death.  However, because of sin that entered our world through Adam and Eve, death is at work in our bodies.  Sin is what kills, sin is what strikes fear into our hearts, and it is what covers us with darkness. This anxiety and distress that we experience are not the way it was intended to be. 

And so we all live under this thick dark veil of death.  We live under the uncertainty of death, we live under the discomfort of death, and we live under the fear of death, especially this day as we remember and grieve the loss of Harold. 

So, here we sit. 

Here we shuffle in our seats under the thick dark veil of death. 

And here we are with troubled hearts and anxious thoughts. 

Maybe if we listen hard enough, we might hear death’s laughter as it attempts to press in on us. 

But dear friends, take note of where you are at.  You are here in a church – in Christ Jesus’ Church.  You are not here to listen to the laughter of death.  You are not here to sit under the thick dark veil of death.  You are not here to embrace your troubled hearts and anxious thoughts. No, you are here in this funeral service and in this church to hear what the Lord has to say about death and what the Lord has to say about Harold. 

Dear friends, listen to what the Lord says in His Word, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Do not let your hearts be troubled!” 

Do not let your hearts be troubled because Jesus is the way out of this veil of death.

As our Savior, Jesus gave Himself into
death on the cross for you, for me, and for Harold.  Jesus had no sins of His own, but in His love for you, for me, and for Harold, He took all of our sins upon His shoulders and carried them to Golgotha where He received our punishment and the wages of our sin. 

What this means is that Jesus willingly gave His life in our place.  He died Harold’s death so that Harold might have Jesus’ life and have it to the fullest. 

You see, Jesus has gone before Harold into the grave and opened a gaping hole in the belly of death.  The grave could not hold on to our Lord Jesus because He is Life itself.  Jesus has overcome sin, death, and the grave.  And because Jesus rose from the clutches of the tomb, we too – with Harold - will rise from our graves to serve and worship Him for all eternity in His kingdom which has no end.

This is Jesus’ Word, His promise that He makes to you in the reading from John’s Gospel this morning. “Let not your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms.  If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

Jesus Christ is the way out of this veil of death. He is our joy in today’s sadness and our life in death.  “Let not your hearts be troubled,”  Jesus says.  “Believe in God; believe also in me.” 

And so this day, we do believe because Jesus has graciously called us and enlightened us by His Holy Spirit.  Through His Holy Word and the sacrament of Holy Baptism, He has brought Harold and you and me to faith in Himself.  Jesus has brought us to believe in Him and to trust in Him that He has made a way out of this present veil of tears and sadness.

That faith which trusts in Him, in His death and resurrection and the salvation and eternal life given to that faith is a free gift of the Holy Spirit.  And the Holy Spirit lovingly keeps and preserves us in that faith until we are brought into His everlasting life.  Whether that be when we close our eyes in death and open them in His glorious presence, like Harold, or when Jesus comes again on the clouds to gather His church home.

In the meantime, the Lord fills us with His grace and strengthens our faith through His Word and Sacraments.  All we need do is to stand in the shower of His goodness and mercy.  Placing ourselves squarely in front of the altar of His church and eat and drink deeply of the gifts of life and salvation in His holy supper and His Word. 

In His mercy, our Savior will keep our faith alive and growing.  It is in that same mercy that we commend our dear Harold today to God’s keeping until the day of the resurrection.

Now, the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen

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