Scorning Death, For Our Redeemer Lives

The following 'Funeral Service Sermon' is posted with family permission.  May the Lord give to the family of Randy Rotenberg, and all who mourn, comfort in their grief and a sure confidence in the Lord's loving care.  

Text: Job 19:23-27a and Hymn "God's Own Child, I Gladly Say It"

Mary, Megan, Joshua, Alyssa, family, and friends, grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Amen. 

Every single day over 55 million people die on the planet earth.  That is over 38,000 deaths every minute and over 600 deaths every single second. 

Of the 55 million deaths from today, the majority of them will eventually end up being buried in the ground, where they will be forgotten after several generations.  Names will be forgotten, faces will fade from memories, the sound of their voices will turn to whispers, and tombstones will be covered with dirt, as these tombstones will eventually crumble into small pieces due to the elements of the weather. 

The world bleeds daily.  Death knocks at the world’s door every day and sin pays out its wages.  Death occurs every single second, every single hour, every single day – 365 days a year.  There is no stopping it. 

I do not have to tell you that this is most certainly depressing – for you already know that.  Yes, it is indeed depressing and enough to make us want to throw up our hands and say,

‘What’s the point?”
It is almost enough to make us kick the dust and say,

“Blech!  Good grief!  Who cares!  Let’s just go home and leave all this funeral stuff in the hands of the mortician and pastor.”

But despite this depressing reality, we are all still here today.  Yes, we have taken time off of work, we have traveled long distances, and we are sitting quietly in our seats.  We have also taken the time to order flowers, prepare food, organize church music, write a sermon, print bulletins, pick out a casket, and care for the body of Randy.  But why go through all this effort?  Why spend all of this time and energy when death is such a common occurrence in this world?   And why gather here in this church for a funeral service? The reason why?  We hear in our Old Testament reading that the Redeemer – Jesus Christ – lives.  Yes, He lives.  And because He lives, He will stand upon the grave of Randy at the Last Day with compassion, glory, honor, and power.  He will stand upon Randy’s grave because He will not forget Randy and because He intends to raise Randy to life once again.    

Dear friends, we are here this day in this church because Jesus Christ lives.  In other words, if Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, was not alive, we would have no reason to be here.  We would have no reason to care. We would have no reason for hope.  However, because He lives, this changes everything. 

We hear from today’s lessons and readings that at the Last Day, Jesus will stand upon the grave of Randy to raise Him up out of the grave to newness of life.  This is not some half-baked reincarnation, where Randy’s soul will come back in an animal or Randy’s soul will come back in a different body.  No, that kind of stuff is complete nonsense.   What we are talking about is a full and complete and whole resurrection of this body before us in the casket.  It will be a complete resurrection of Randy as we have known and see him, except without the effects of sin and death.  Mark this, Randy will not be forgotten in the dust and ashes but will be raised from the grave imperishable.  Indeed, this changes everything, does it not? 

More specifically, in this morning’s reading from the Book of Job, we hear that when we die, we do not become annihilated, but that our soul lives on, to be reunited with our bodies at the resurrection of the dead.  In other words, we hear that we can expect the Redeemer to raise Randy and us to life once again.  We hear that with a renewed body that Randy will see the Lord with his very own eyes when he is resurrected from the grave. 

And so, today we gather here in this church to hear the bold promises that Jesus has not forgotten Randy in death.  We gather here in this church to hear the valiant promise that Jesus will raise Randy from the grave someday.  We gather together here in this church with grief in our one hand while simultaneously clinging to the promises of God in the other hand.  We gather here to hold to the Lord’s promises, against all appearances, that even though Randy will lie in dust and ashes that he will be raised on the Last Day. 

In a way, our gathering here today is not only to express our grief, love, and support for Randy and the family, but it is a gathering here this day to protest Sin, Death, and the Devil.  Actually, it is so much more than a mere protest.  We are here to laugh and mock sin, death, and the devil.  It is a gathering this day to declare that we – with Randy – are children of God.  We belong to Jesus because we are baptized into His life, death, and resurrection!  Yes, we are children of God, and we gladly say this because the Redeemer lives. So, today we confess with a boldness that sin cannot disturb our souls any longer for our Redeemer lives.  We snub our noses at the evil foe, for our Redeemer lives.   We chuckle at death, for our Redeemer lives.

With our grief in one hand and the promises of God in the other hand, we mock, scorn, snub, and laugh at sin, death, and the devil.  We tell sin that we have comfort even stronger, Jesus cleansing sacrifice.  We tell Satan that He can drop his ugly accusations because his tyranny is unraveled.  We tell death that it cannot end our gladness, for it has been swallowed up.  We mock, scorn, snub, and laugh at sin, death, and the devil because our Redeemer lives and our Redeemer is our sure defense.  He is our power, might, and victory. 

Indeed, we are gathered here this day to hear, believe, and confess the realty that just as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, Randy will also walk in newness of life when he is resurrected at the last day.  And as he awaits the resurrection of his body, Randy is in a newness of life brighter than we can imagine.  Jesus is his protection and comfort; all the accusations of the Law are left behind, with no shadows of death, no deep valley of pain, no threats, but life unimpaired in the arms of Jesus’ rest.

This is most certainly true for Randy, and it is most certainly true for you and me this day, for our Redeemer lives. 

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

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