Funeral Sermon For Horst Naujok / Saturday September 16th 2017
Text: Luke 23.43
Theme: Christ sums up God’s love
Intr – How can one sum up a life time in a few words or sentences? Is that ever possible? This surely is not something easy to do. Especially when someone’s walk of life has spanned eight decades. Our brother Horst departed this week to be with the Lord after 81 years of life. Not only life. A Christian life, since he lived his whole life as a baptized Christian.
If we would try to do the summary of his lifetime in a couple short sentences, I would choose three phrases that Horst himself has delivered.
1 – To God be the Glory
As many of you know Horst was a good singer. So, I learned recently that every time he sang and someone would come over to congratulate him, he would always have in his lips the same words: “To God be the glory”. I would guess that he was of course pleased with the feedback he received. We all like to know when we are doing something well. But he always wanted to point to the One that was the reason and motivation of all praise.
To God be all the glory for Horst’s lifetime. For our lifetime, blessings, gifts. Even for all the difficulties and ordeals we undergo in life, because even though He never causes harm to us, he uses the harm that sin ultimately causes in our walk or life to draw us near to Him, to work everything for our good. To God be the Glory.
2 – I had a good life
That connects us with the second sentence I would like to use. When I visited with him some weeks ago at the Hospital, during our conversation, he said: “You know, Pastor. I had a good life”. Isn’t that wonderful if we all could say that? I had; I have a good life.
Sometimes that is not the case because we try to make it happen with our own hands. We think we can be the singer songwriter of our perfectly harmonic masterpiece of life. Our free will regarding the song of this life may lead us to believe that everything is in our own hands. But I am sure that the reason Horst said that he had a good life was because his life had been a walk of life in God’s hands. What I took from that conversation is that he was thankful for everything that God gave him during his 8 decades. That even in the midst of war and trouble, grief and loss, Horst in the end could say he had a good life because he was in the Hands of the One that is good and whose mercy endures forever.
3 – Today you will be with me in paradise
And talking about eternity connects us to the third phrase, actually, a Bible verse. “Today you will be with Me in Paradise”. Those were the words Christ said to the riminal hanging on the cross beside Him. Those were the words Horst shared with Pastor Giese in one of his lasts visits earlier this month. Think of it for a moment. Those are the words from Christ to a sinner hanging beside him, a thief. Someone who realizes he had to let go of himself and hold on to Christ as His Saviour.
That says a lot. Horst had his own troubles and sins, and for that reason, as a Christian, knowing God’s Law and Gospel from the Scriptures, he knew that he had no reason to boast based on merits or deeds, or good actions before God, just like that sinner on the cross. We are all in the same boat. Sinners that need to be rescued and saved by the Gospel. So a funeral Service like today is not about celebrating a saint, but about celebrating the blessings God bestowed over a sinner. In the sense that we are not making a person the centre, but remembering Christ as the centre. To God be all the glory, forever and ever. The Saviour that came to Horst in His Baptism. Jesus Christ that came to Him in the Holy Supper so many times, two of them which I had the opportunity to minister him twice in the last few weeks.
That is the victory Christ won for us. Victory over death, Christ conquered death by His own death, and resurrection, so that we are assured that because he lives, we will live.
We actually already live. Today. Now. Walking with Christ we live the tension of the ‘already’, and the ‘not yet’. We are saved now. If we depart today, we are saved today. We are with Christ in paradise today. If it will still take longer, that is, not yet, we still can walk and sing today, tomorrow, and always in the Lord. We can have the same assuredness that He is today with us, everyday - that in Him we can always have a Good life, because it is filled by His presence and Love. So that in the end, we can say at the end of every single day: to God be the glory. He is good and His love endures forever.
Cc – Forever. That’s why today we don’t say tchuss, rather, we are saying Aufwiedersehen. It is not a simple goodbye. It is: see you soon. ‘Till next time. We will meet each other again. That is the assuredness we have in Christ. In Christ. He is the image of God’s love for us. And God is love. To Him be the Glory forever. Amen