Funeral Sermon, Elsie Wilhelmine Miller / Saturday February 10th 2018
Text: John 14.1-7
Theme: In the better Place
Intr – Arthur and I had a good conversation earlier this week about his mother’s life. She had a long, blessed life, under the Grace of God, since she was a baptized Christian who confessed her faith all along the way. It were almost 10 decades in this side of Heaven under God’s care and love!
Arthur shared with me also some of the good memories he has from his mother and his family. At the end of the notes he scribbled down and sent me there was this closing line: “Elsie is in a better place now with God and family members she hans’t seen in a long time”.
This is a very nice way to cap off the memories about a loving mother. Because it conveys the summary of our hope as Christians, it actually conveys the summary of why we are here today. Because we believe in that Place. We believe we will see our loved ones again in Heaven.
Let me break Art’s sentence in two.
First, the Place. In the Gospel of John 14, our Lord Jesus, while talking to His disciples, lets them know that “in my Father’s house there are many rooms. If it was not so would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” As we hear this we know that Elsie is now in a better place. I would change only one word in Art’s sentence: she is in THE best place. A place prepared by our Saviuor, a special place in the Father’s house.
How do we know this place was prepared also for Elsie? Because we know she was brought to Holy Baptism early in her life. She most certainly also confirmed her faith as a teenager, as is the costume of the Church. That place was prepared for her too because we know she lived her life sustained by the Holy Spirit in her Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ; she confessed in her life what Jesus tells us in St. John 14:4: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. Today is the day for us all to be reminded that there is a place prepared also for us, where we will be able to come together as family, meeting each other again.
This brings us to the second part of Art’s statement: “with God and family members”. That goes to the core of the Christian faith. The ressurection to life everlasting.
Christ is the Way to this special place. He is the Truth about the special place prepared for us in Heaven, that place where we will have Life eternal, as Jesus Himself states in John 14. He has prepared this special place through His death on the Cross and His resurrection on the third day. A place that He prepared with the shedding of His own blood so that we may rest assured in His promise of taking us home when our last hour comes. This we know from the Word of God: by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, Elsie is in the arms of the Lord now, awaiting for the ressurection in the last Day. And so are all of her family members, all those Christians who departed in peace and in faith in Jesus.
Yet we still go through death in this life. The existence of sin is proven everytime a person dies. The wages of sin is death. But the promise of God to all of us today, and always, is: Death is like a comma in a sentence, not like a period at the end of the sentence. Not a final point. Death is the penultimate word. The last word, in CHRIST, is always LIFE. Eternal Life. That’s what brings peace to our hearts in face of death. With His own death Christ killed death on the Cross and gave us new life; by faith in Him we will see our loved ones again in Heaven, not because of human hopes, but because He promised us so.
Cc – That’s why Art, and dear friends, as I mentioned in the beginning, this is as good way of capping off the text about Elsie Miller. That’s why I’ll conclude my sermon with them as well. Because of Christ, through faith, in the hope He gives us in His Word, we know this: “Elsie is in a better place now with God and family members she hasn’t seen in a long time”. Amen.