Blog / Book of the Month / Allan Massier Funeral Sermon – Matthew 28:16–20; Psalm 23; Ephesians 2:8–10 August 4th 2023 / Life along the Road

Allan Massier Funeral Sermon – Matthew 28:16–20; Psalm 23; Ephesians 2:8–10 August 4th 2023 / Life along the Road

Allan Massier Funeral Sermon – Matthew 28:16–20; Psalm 23; Ephesians 2:8–10 August 4th 2023 / Life along the Road

Funeral Sermon for Allan Ivan Massier / Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Friday August 4th 2023: Season of Pentecost / Matthew 28:16–20 "Life along the Road"

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw Him they worshiped Him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I Am with you always, to the end of the age.”

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. “Go,” Jesus says, and their feet walked the path which God prepared beforehand, the road forged by Christ Jesus that they should follow Him. Good Christian friends and family of Allan Massier. Our Gospel Reading today comes from the very end of the Gospel of Matthew, this is after Jesus’ death upon the cross, after His three day rest in the grave and after His resurrection from the dead, this is indeed forty days after all of these things and the remaining disciples had had opportunity to spend time with the risen Jesus, after three years with Him they had begun to understand the path He walked, the one that took Him to the Old Rugged Cross with all its suffering and shame. And as Jesus gives them His parting words and ascends into heaven their feet then walked the path back down the mountainside into the rest of their earthly lives, a path which God prepared beforehand. You see they had become God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, that they should walk in them and so they did. They walked in Jesus’ steps down the road which Jesus walked and we, who are followers of this Christ Jesus, as Al was all his life, walk that road to. Perhaps you find yourself at a crossroads today, perhaps you wonder if you are walking that same road? Maybe you are normally out standing in a field somewhere and today you find yourself on the shoulder of this road of faith.   

A road doesn’t spring into existence all by itself, Al knew this well. A road requires planning and it requires workers and material to construct it. Sure animals can make trails through the woods and nomads may follow tried and true routs but regardless a good path comes from somewhere and is going somewhere, and this is true of roads too. Whenever I drive through the valley on the way from Regina to Southey I think of Allan; that was one of the projects he’s worked on for the department of highways. There were others, the one that took him by Hawarden Saskatchewan brought Al to Betty as we heard. Those are literal roads, an unlike Al many of you likely haven’t worked on road construction projects. Even still take some time today and in the days to come to think of the road you are on, especially where it applies to your faith. The road of faith is prepared beforehand for you by God and it’s a road that’s going somewhere.  

There is an ancient hymn that we still sing in the church written by Saint Ambrose of Milan called “Savior of the Nations, Come,”[1] in the 5th stanza of the hymn we sing of Jesus saying, “God the Father was His source, Back to God He ran His course. Into hell His road went down, Back then to His throne and crown.” This verse encapsulates what is called the incarnation and passion of the Christ; He leaves heaven “conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead,” all of these events and moments both exciting and hard are markers along this road that Christ Jesus walked, a road that started with His heavenly Father and returned to Him where the suffering and shame of the earthly throne of the cross with its crown of thorns and death are exchanged for a heavenly throne and crown and eternal life, a crown He now promises to the redeemed in Him.[2] Yes “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption,”[3] adoption in the waters of baptism, in the gift of faith, this is how we find ourselves on this road and so it is that Jesus says to His remaining disciples “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” “Go,” Jesus says and their feet walked the path which God prepared beforehand, the road forged by Christ Jesus that they should follow Him. That they should follow the one who walked the road without fault or sin and with perfection finished the race set before Him.[4]

The Book of Acts from the Bible gives us some more details about the day of Jesus’ ascension, Saint Luke tells us, “so when they had come together, they asked [Jesus], “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when He had said these things, as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as He went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven.”[5]

Jesus set them on His path, gave them His road to follow, and promised to be with them always along the way and to return to them on The Last Day. Allan held firm to this faith and took the work of witnessing to what Christ had done for him to heart, in many and various ways Allan embraced this. Now sometimes when people hear this sort of thing they imagine someone on a soap box on a street corner considering the entirety of his Christian life, especially in these last years, it’s safe to say Al’s style was more laid back than that, he was really great at striking up a conversation with people and his warmth and gentleness and words of encouragement went a long way. Beyond personal interactions Al applied his administrative skills to the task of evangelism and was steadfastly supportive of the work of the church both near and far to share the Good News of Jesus with everyone.   

With every expectation that you would be here today Allan chose both the Epistle and Old Testament readings for you; and when he went into the hospital his Bible was open to Psalm 23, to the Psalm that Pastor Haberstock, Al and Betty’s godson, read for you this morning, the Psalm that teaches that the Lord is our Good Shepherd leading us through the best of times and the hardest of times, yes even along the path that leads through the valley of the shadow of death, never abandoning us—never abandoning you—along the way no matter what life looks like. Jesus is this Good Shepherd and Allan trusted this. He also trusted the words of the Epistle today, listen to them again and let them wash over your ears and down into your heart, hold fast to them, they are words carved deep into the Old blood stained Rugged Cross of Christ, “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.”[6]

The Good News is that the work necessary for being saved from the eternal grip of death and the hook of damnation tucked away in our sin is Jesus’ work and not your work, if it was up to you to do it all perfectly, to live life perfectly along the road, we would all fail and Allan knew this first hand, as we all do when we’re honest about it, so to receive salvation as a gracious gift through faith is the Best New of all and it makes us free to put our all and all into every step along the road as we follow Jesus knowing our forgiveness is not found in our own actions but in His sure steps, His nail pierced feet, His work on our behalf. For this reason we can boast in Christ and not in ourselves.

It is truly amazing what can be done when you’re free to do it. Of course we need to stay on the road, on the path Christ provides us, on the straight and narrow as they say.[7] You may say, ‘I can’t even see the road, I don’t seem to have any cell signal, my GPS is all haywire and giving bad directions, If I had a paper map I’ve lost it, I don’t know where I am or where to turn or where even to begin?” Dear ones, stop and look down, you’re on the Road right now. You’re standing on Christ Jesus and as He says of Himself, “I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”[8] As the Psalmist says “[The Lord] drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a Rock, making my steps secure.”[9] That Rock is Christ Jesus; that Way is Christ Jesus. Knowing now where you stand and that it’s the Holy Spirit who placed you there, led by His goodness and mercy of the Lord walk this road as one led by Christ Himself.

Dear ones give up the detours of life, the cul-de-sacs and dead ends, the ditches and rabbit trails. If you are not baptised be baptised, if you have set aside learning from God’s Word and the teachings of the Church it’s time to get back into it, or if you never have studied these things it’s time to start, and if you’ve never observed or followed all that Christ Jesus in His authority commanded His disciples there’s no time like the present. Then you can say with the Psalmist, with your fellow Christian and with our dear Allan, “My steps have held fast to Your paths [O Lord]; [and by Your grace] my feet have not slipped.”[10] “Go,” Jesus says, and their feet walked the path which God prepared beforehand, the road forged by Christ Jesus that they should follow Him. 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.

[1] Lutheran Service Book #332 “Savior of the Nations, Come” Stanza 5.
[2] James 1:12; Revelation 2:10
[3] Galatians 4:4–5
[4] Hebrews 12:2
[5] Acts 1:6-11
[6] Ephesians 2:8–10
[7] Matt. 7:13–14; Proverb 28:18
[8] John 14:6
[9] Psalm 40:2
[10] Psalm 17:5

Photo Credits: main photo provided by family and Mount Olive; Saskatchewan highway from pixabay; detail of Christ crucified from pixabay; detail of the the ascension of Jesus from pixabay; detail of feet walking a road from pexels; detail of photo of Allan Massier provided by family; detail of Christ crucified from pxhere; detail of Betty and Allan Massier provided by family; detail of aerial photo of road from pexels.