Funeral Sermon For Walley Wild / July 8th 2014 / Ephesians 2:4-10
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Walley Leslie Wild - Funeral Sermon / July 8th 2014 Tuesday.
"God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
(Ephesians 2:4-10 ESV)
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. The World has some ideas about what it means to be a Christian: Be nice, be good, don't cause trouble, say the right thing, do the right thing, live a perfect life - here's the problem, when we are honest with ourselves we come to know that we don't do these things all that well and because the World says that that's what it means to be a Christian, that being a Christian is about "doing" something good, that being a Christian is about always "being good" then we start to ask ourselves, "Am I a Christian?" "Is that person over there a Christian?" "Who is a Christian? Everyone seems to be doing such a poor job at it" The World has it in it's head that going to heaven is about the good we do.
Truly the bar is set very high indeed: Hidden behind these ideas of "be nice, do good" is the Law of God - God gave it to Moses and the children of Israel, you know it, or you've heard of it, it's those 10 Commandments. Sometimes we think the Law is good, we like it when it protects us from being hurt or having our stuff stolen; sometimes we don't like the Law of God when it tells us to live this way or that way. Some days it's like a Mirror showing us our faults or the faults of others, some days it's a Curb keeping us on the road - that straight and narrow path, some days it's a Guide teaching us what we should and should not do to lead a God-pleasing life. Whether you can list them off or not there they are hanging in the air, day in and day out.
The World seems more than happy to throw the Law of God in your face when you fail at keeping it, and when you fail the World says, "some Christian you are." Then we hear words like we just heard from Saint Paul who writes, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." This goes against the grain - what Scripture tells us is that while the bar of the Law of God is set exceedingly high, getting into heaven isn't based on your leaping over the bar with all your good works in tow. Rather you getting into heaven is a gift from God. Undeserved, completely an act of grace on God's part for you. This is true for you and it is true for me and it's true for Walley. Still you think, 'It has to be based on doing good, how can it not be based on that? At the very least the good has to outweigh the bad? Right?' The Law of God demands perfection. In the little letter of James from the Bible it says, "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it."
A friend of mine was at officer training at C.F.B Borden Ontario, he was training to be a military chaplain, he was bunked with an Orthodox priest who was convinced that we had to do good works to get into heaven. My friend kept coming back to this verse from Ephesians. After about a week of going back and forth on this the Orthodox priest finally in exasperation said to my friend, "Are you trying to tell me that you're not saved by good works!" to which my friend said, "No, I am saved by good works, just not mine! I'm saved by what Jesus did for me, I'm saved by His good works - because of Jesus Jesus' perfection becomes my perfection." This is sometimes called the 'sweet exchange,' I give Jesus my sin and He gives me forgiveness. I give Him my trouble and He gives me His peace, I give Jesus my death and He gives me His Eternal Life, I give Him my unrighteousness and He gives me His righteousness, righteousness won for me at the cross in His innocent suffering and death. "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Believe it, have faith in it, remembering that even the faith needed to believe in it is a gift. If you struggle and days like today make the struggle even harder consider the prayer of the man who came to Jesus to have his son healed, in desperation the father cried out to Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Jesus answered his prayer and healed the man's son. In the end the man's faith was a gift, just as it is for me, just as it is for you, just as it is for Walley: Saint Paul writes, "faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ."
Knowing how our troubles keep us from God, how the World wants us to live apart from God, Isaiah in the Old Testament writes, "Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or His ear dull, that it cannot hear;" Hearing our need God sent Jesus to save you, and I, and Walley; Knowing our troubles God reached out with His Son Jesus to rescue us, to reach down and pick us up. Jesus in the Bible says to you today, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." Later in the Gospel of John Jesus, the very Son of God the Father, says, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
In the midst of everything Walley believed in Jesus, trusted in Jesus: Walley had faith that in his baptism he was "baptized into Christ Jesus" and that his baptism meant that he was likewise "baptized into [Jesus'] death? [That he was therefore] buried ... with [Jesus] by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ [Jesus] was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, [that he] too might walk in newness of life. [Walley trusted that in baptism he was] united with [Jesus] in a death like [Jesus' death, and because of this union Walley believed that he] certainly [is] united with [Jesus] in a resurrection like [Jesus' resurrection]." Again this is that sweet exchange, Jesus giving of Himself for Walley, for you, for me. In this way we are crucified with Jesus upon the cross and since we have died with Jesus we now trust that we will live with Him, set free from the eternal consequences of suffering, trouble and sin. We give Jesus a crown of thorns, He gives us a crown of Gold, "an imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, [inheritance] kept in heaven for you."
So when the World throws your troubles in your face and says "some Christian you are," say back to the World, 'I belong to Jesus, in Him I am redeemed, I am saved, I am free, in Jesus I have my rest, my resurrection and my eternal life in the face of death.' "For by grace [I] have been saved through faith. And this is not [my] own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Live confidant in the perfect life of Jesus for you, bear through all things together and forgive one another as God has forgiven you, turning always to Him for your forgiveness, and when doing whatever good you can do remember it is for others not for your own merit, so that their lives may be better. As Saint John says, "We love because [God] first loved us." Jesus loves Walley, Jesus loves you, love one another. God shows His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 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.
 In Matthew 5:48 Jesus says, "You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
 James 2:10
 Captain (Rev.) Sye VanMaanen, http://www.lutheranchurch-canada.ca/chaplaincy.php
 Mark 9:24
 Romans 10:17
 Isaiah 59:1
 John 3:16
 John 11:25-26
 Romans 6:3-8
 1 Peter 1:4
 Remembering when you say it Saint Paul good advice from 1 Corinthians 1:31, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
 Colossians 3:13 "bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive."
 Joel 2:13 "Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents over disaster."
 1 John 4:19