Thursday, August 03, 2017

Sermon: Funeral of Larry Medina

3 August 2017

Text: John 10:10b-15, 27-30

In the name of + Jesus.  Amen.

Dear friends and family, brothers and sisters in Christ, and honored guests.  Peace be with you!

That was how Jesus greeted his disciples after He rose from the dead and appeared to them.  And for Jesus it wasn’t just polite words or a way of saying hello.  When Jesus says something, it is a reality.

When someone dies, a lot of people are at a loss for words.  And that’s understandable.  What can we say?  Especially when someone dies young and suddenly – as Larry did.  There were so many things that needed to be said, but went unsaid.  There were things that should have been done, but went undone.  And words can’t bring someone back from the dead – or can they?

Dear friends, Christianity isn’t what most people think it is.  It’s not about Jesus the nice guy or the great teacher.  Nice guys and great teachers are a dime a dozen.  Christianity isn’t even about going to heaven when we die, floating around like a ghost with a harp for eternity.  Christianity is rooted in the life of Jesus: God in the flesh.  He came to fix what is broken with the world.  And who can deny that the world is terribly messed up?  It is not normal or natural or “for the best” that we die.  According to what God revealed about Himself in the Scriptures, God created us to live forever.  We die, however, because we are all sinful.  We are all broken.  And that brokenness shows up in our broken bodies, broken families, broken communities, broken politics, and broken dreams.

Worst of all, we can’t fix it any more than we can fix ourselves.  

But there is good news, dear friends.  Jesus came into our world to rescue us.  He says, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”  He says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand.”

Jesus died in our place, and rose again from death, so that we too might rise again – all according to His Word and His promise.  And we will not rise as a spirit or an angel, but as a flesh and blood person, made perfect, and united with all of those who “believe and are baptized” in a new heaven and a new earth.  It sounds like an offer too good to be true, but it is as true as the fact that Jesus has a tomb in Jerusalem, and it is empty.  Nobody else in history ever walked out of his own well-guarded grave.

We Christians are brought into the faith by baptism.  Jesus names us as His own when we are washed in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Our sins are forgiven, and we have the promise that we are clothed with Christ’s righteousness, buried with Him in baptism, and “raised from the dead by the glory of the Father…. We shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His,” dear friends.  This is what the Word of God says, the Word of the one who walked out of His own grave.

It is a great mystery why some people die young and unexpectedly, as did Larry.  They leave questions unanswered and loose threads hanging.  But rest assured, dear friends, in Christ, we have the promise to be reunited – bodily and in the flesh, in a new and greater world without sin, without suffering, without death – where time is not a burden and where the brokenness of our current existence won’t even be a memory.  We look forward to this joyful reunion, where everything will be made perfect and new!

All of this good news, this truly uplifting comfort, is packed into that greeting that Jesus had for His disciples after His own resurrection, a greeting that we Christians have been saying to one another for nearly two thousand years: “Peace be with you.”  Amen.

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

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