Saturday, August 04, 2007

Sermon: Funeral for Bonnie Sprouse

4 August 2007 at Mothe Funeral Home, Harvey, LA
Text: John 14:1-6 (Job 19:23-27a, Romans 6:3-9)

In the name of + Jesus. Amen.

Russell, Kristen, Lee, Judy, Brenda, Laurie, Wendy, Andy, family, and friends. What a profound time of grief this is to lose a faithful wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. Her heroic struggle against cancer has ended not in defeat, as it may seem to our feeble senses, but in victory.

Bonnie’s life and courage has served as an example and encouragement to many, and her death in no way negates that. In fact, her suffering gave her the opportunity to display courage and steadfastness. Her suffering gave all of you the opportunity to display mercy and love. And in death, Bonnie has overcome the evil one.

Bonnie’s suffering is a portrait of the suffering and passion of our Lord. And Bonnie’s victory over death was given to her by the ultimate victor over death, the same Lord Jesus Christ. For though death comes to all of us – thanks to sins of our own as well as those of our ancestors – our Blessed Lord overcame death and the grave by His resurrection. That resurrection, that victory over sin, death, and the devil was placed upon victorious Bonnie’s little forehead in the form of baptismal water.

Not even the most sophisticated science, the most advanced medicine, the finest minds of research, could destroy the cancer that assaulted Bonnie. And yet, the most simple and humble substance in the world – a splash of water – when combined with the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, has removed all of Bonnie’s sins, destroyed her disease, overcome all of her pain, and has conquered death itself.

“Do you not know” asks St. Paul, “that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? …For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His.”

What looks to the world like a meaningless ceremony is in fact the eternal antidote to all sickness, the cure for death itself.

We have the promise of the Lord Jesus Himself: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many rooms… I go to prepare a place for you.”

The Lord has not abandoned Bonnie. He has taken her unto Himself. He has prepared a place for her. He has prepared a place for all of His people, those who have been baptized and redeemed. Jesus, the One who rose from the dead and defeated the evil one, speaks with authority: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

What has saved Bonnie, what has brought this saintly woman out of pain and into eternal joy, what brings all of us comfort in the face of death is not the fact that Bonnie was courageous, loving, inspirational, or devout – though all of these are true. What gives us comfort in times like these, my dear brothers and sisters, is the promise of God. The sure Word of Him who rose from the dead, the One who promises that Bonnie is with Him this moment, the One into whose holy name she was baptized.

We Christians grieve, to be sure. But we don’t grieve like those who have no hope. For we know our separation is only temporary. We know that Bonnie was given the gift of eternal life. The gift is as real as the water that splashed upon her tiny forehead so many years ago. The promise is as real as the body and blood of the risen Christ that was given to her to eat and drink for the forgiveness of sins and the guarantee and pledge of eternal life.

For we know that in these rooms prepared by our Lord Jesus there is no more suffering, pain, doubt, anxiety, or death. She now awaits the great day of resurrection, when all of our graves will open, when our bodies themselves will rise, when you will once more hold her very real hand, be embraced by her very real arms, and look into her very real smiling eyes, knowing that the promises of God have been fulfilled.

For though we see only dimly by faith, Bonnie gazes upon the kind and gentle face of Jesus, and proclaims in the words of Job: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold and not another.”

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

1 comment:

Pastor Richard said...

I am Bonnie's 2nd cousin on my mom’s side and just found your blog post. Thank you for putting it on-line and for your faithfulness in proclaiming the good new about Jesus Christ.

Your fellow worker in Christ,

Richard Wollard, Sr. Pastor
Meadowland Church