Funeral Sermon For Martha Dament / Saturday August 8th 2015
Funeral Sermon for Martha Dament, August 8th 2015 - Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / (John 14:1-7 ESV)
[Jesus says to His disciples,] “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.”
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Martha loved music. Years ago she played in a band, and I remember how delighted she was when we would come and see her before Christmas with Christmas carols. Small groups from the church spreading out across the city bringing the songs of angles, "Angles we have heard on high, Sweetly singing o're the plains and the mountains in reply, Echoing their joyous strains. Gloria in excelsis Deo, Gloria in excelsis Deo."
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!”
It was on one of those visits that Martha watched with gladness when Edna Schutz, one of our organists played Martha's piano in her suite at the Wintergreene Estates as they all sang the Christmas carols together. Marjorieu78 and Karen sang about angles taking Martha home, and it made me think of another song, one from the hymnal called, Lord, Thee I Love With All My Heart. The hymn was written by Martin Schalling who died in the year 1608. In the opening words of the third verse of the hymn the congregation sings, "Lord let at last Thine angels come to Abr'ham's bosom bear me home, That I may die unfearing;" Where did Martin Schalling get that idea from? That God's angels would bear him to his heavenly home when he died? As we heard today this idea shows up all over the place. Where is it from?
Jesus told a story, a parable, about a rich man and a poor man, both of whom died. The rich man died rich the poor man died poor. The rich man, "was clothed in purple and fine linen and ... feasted sumptuously every day," while he was alive. The poor man lived, with next to nothing, begging outside the rich man's door, and when these two men died, Jesus tells us that, "the poor man ... was carried by the angels to Abraham's side," (that's Abr'ham's bosom). He was carried there because he had heard God's Word in Holy Scripture and had faith in what is promised there. Earthly richness or poorness really account for nothing, in the end it's faith that makes the difference, and not faith in general but rather faith with an object, a specific faith.
Where does this sort of faith come from? St Paul says "faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." In the catechism we make this confession: "I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him;" Did you hear that? 'by my own reason or strength I can't believe in Jesus or come to Him?' The catechism continues, "but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with [Jesus'] gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way [The Holy Spirit] calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith [That's the Christian faith, that is faith in Jesus as Christ]. In this Christian church [The Holy Spirit] daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true."
When talking about that Last Day, and what That Day will be like Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew tells us that in, "those days ... all the tribes of the earth [all peoples] ... will see the Son of Man [that's Jesus] coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
A bit earlier in Matthew's Gospel there was this Centurion, a Roman military commander, who said to Jesus, “Lord, I am not worthy to have You come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” So too it is with Jesus and His holy angels. At His command they come and go and do His work, they gather in the harvest, his angels gather out of His kingdom all causes of sin and evil, and they throw them into the fiery furnace ... [after this gleaning] the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
Martha, this baptized child of God, has been gathered into the storehouses of the Lord: In the Blood of Christ she is presented righteous without blemish or spot because Christ Jesus is without blemish or spot and the righteousness Martha has is perfect in the eyes of God the Father because Jesus' righteousness is perfect and without sin and His righteousness has been given to her as her glorious dress. Every trouble of body and mind and soul has passed away, but she has not passed away, she has life because Jesus is not only The Truth, Jesus is also The Life, and His life He gave for Martha, His life He gives to Martha - His life He gave for you, His life He gives to you. Jesus says, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
In our Gospel lesson from John chapter 14 Jesus makes a promise to His disciples a promise He makes to you as well, Jesus says, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also." From this we can know that Jesus doesn't just send His angels, He Himself is present when one of His faithful meets their death. This passage from John chapter 14 was one of the last bits of Scripture that I read to Martha, it teaches that Christ Himself came for her at the moment of her death.
That Hymn, Lord, Thee I Love With All My Heart, where it says, "Lord let at last Thine angels come to Abr'ham's bosom bear me home, That I may die unfearing;" continues to say, "and in its narrow chamber keep My body safe in peaceful sleep Until Thy Reappearing. And then from death awaken me, That these my eyes with joy may see, O Son of God, thy glorious face, My Saviour and my fount of grace. Lord Jesus Christ my prayer attend, my prayer attend, And I will praise Thee without end."
We now look with the eyes of faith for a happy reunion with Martha in Christ Jesus. Jesus with His holy angels gathers up His own to Himself and in Him they have peace, peace as the world cannot give. She now has perfect peace in Christ. Martha trusted that Jesus was, is and ever shall be - yesterday, today and forever, The Way. She trusted this becasue her faith was built up each time she read her paper-back Bible, each time she heard God's Word read and preached in church, at her apartment, at her bedside. The Holy Spirit built that faith up in her, giving it generously as a gift each time, making it strong unto Eternal Life.
Now remember dear ones, by way of His death on the cross, by way of His three days in the tomb, by way of His resurrection on that first Easter morning, by way of His Ascension into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, Jesus then is The Way to that heavenly Home. Without Jesus no angle can get you there, no reason or strength, or hard work of your own can get you there, like the Hymn Rock of Ages says, that song we sang before the sermon, "nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling," Jesus says to you this day, "I go to prepare a place for you," He says, "I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also." What a sweet sound those words are, a promise, from the one who is called Faithful and True, from the lips of Jesus to your ears. Hear these words and believe as Martha did, hear these words and be comforted as Martha was comforted. And remember if we are faithless Jesus is faithful - He has more faith that you have doubt, more forgiveness than you have sin, and He freely gives it to you by His Word and in His holy sacraments. Martha in Christ is gathered up into the choir of heaven to sing the praise of Jesus for ever and ever, this is not only for her it is for you too. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Lutheran Service Book, Concordia Publishing House 2006, #368.
 Luke 2:10-14
 Lutheran Service Book, #708.
 Luke 16:19
 Luke 16:22
 Romans 10:17
 Luther's Small Catechism with Explanation, Concordia Publishing House 2005, Pg 17.
 Matthew 24:29-31
 Matthew 8:8-9
 Matthew 13:36-43
 John 14:1-3
 Lutheran Service Book, #761, verse 3.
 Revelation 19:11