Friday, December 08, 2006

Sermon: Funeral of Miranda Delger

8 December, 2006 at Mothe Funeral Home, Marrero, LA
Text: John 10:11-16 (Isa 25:6-9; Rev 21:2-7)

In the Name of + Jesus. Amen.

Dear friends, this may be one of the saddest and most somber days of your lives. Death is the most evil thing there is. It forces us into a completely unnatural separation from those we love. It causes us to grieve, to be struck with a wound that may never entirely heal in this life. With all of our medical advances and technology, death can’t be cured with a cutting edge treatment or drug. And death awaits all of us fallen and sinful creatures.

Not one of us escapes death. And maybe that’s why we’ve come to think of it as natural. We make jokes about it. We act like it doesn’t bother us. But when it hits home, as it does today as we bury our sister in Christ, Miranda, it is all put into perspective. It’s not funny or natural.

And yet, there is one person present who has no sadness, no pain, no tears, nothing but unbridled joy and happiness: and that is our sister in Christ, Miranda.

For as horrific as death is, it was defeated by our Lord Jesus Christ who died to overcome sin, death, and the devil. It was Jesus who made war on the dragon, and crushed his head on our behalf. It was Jesus who strode out of his own grave the victor. And it is Jesus who has given this victory personally to Miranda.

For the Lord is indeed our Shepherd, and we shall not want. We are led into green pastures and still waters. A table is set for us, a table of rich food, of the best meats and the finest of wines. At this feast, all are dressed magnificently, all tears have been wiped away by the very hands of God, there is no more mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. The Lord is making everything new.

For the Lord Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd, and his sheep, like Miranda, know his voice. For Miranda was, is, and always will be a sheep under the care of the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd himself, making use of men called to serve as pastors (which is a Latin word that means “shepherds”), named Miranda as his own, baptizing her in still waters in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The Good Shepherd provided pastors to forgive her all of her sins, and give her the foretaste of the Heavenly Banquet by placing the holy body and blood of the Good Shepherd into her mouth, to strengthen her, body and soul, for the eternal life she now enjoys.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He keeps his promises. He cares for his sheep. He dies for them, in their place – rather than let the devil snatch even one out of his hand.

Miranda now sings the praises of God in the heavenly multitude, not a care or worry to be found, not a single ache or pain, no distress, and no sadness – only complete joy!

This is what hearing the Word of God has done for her. This is why Pastor Friedrich visited her and brought her Holy Communion. This is why she became part of the Church so long ago by the never-wavering promise of God delivered under water combined with the all-powerful name of the Holy Triune God.

Dear friends, we still remain in this valley of tears, this world where death mocks us, where Satan hurls darts at us, where our own flesh betrays and tempts us. But we must never forget that Jesus has conquered death by his dying, and leads the way to our own resurrection by rising again. This is the faith Miranda held dear, the faith through which our Lord has rescued this dear sister. This is the faith the Lord extends to all of us, as a gift, a completely free gift.
We too will one day leave behind this fallen world. And as the Good Shepherd proclaims to us: “he who believes and is baptized will be saved.”

Miranda’s joy is the joy of all who repent and hear the Good Shepherd, all who do not spurn the gift of eternal life. We thank God for the saintly example of our dear sister Miranda, whose triumph through Jesus Christ over death and the grave is the ultimate expression of victory over anything that can hurt us – even death itself.

And even as we mourn, we Christians take comfort in Miranda’s joy, and the joy we will all experience together with her when our own lives in this broken world come to an end.

For as St. Paul tells us: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loves us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Amen.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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