Arnie Johnson Funeral Sermon - Psalm 23, John 14 / June 1st, 2021 / The Beautiful Picture
Text: John 14/Psalm 23
Theme: “The beautiful Picture”
Intr – Since Arnie lived with us on this side of Heaven for almost nine decades I’m sure you know a lot about his life time, preferences, and many aspects of his life, some of them highlighted by pastor Parker earlier today. Among them, I’d like to ask: do you know what was Arnie’s professional occupation? Some of you know it already of course, but perhaps some of you might become surprised and interested as I was when I learned from Mary and Lydia about his job last week: Arnie was an Aerial Photo Interpretor.
But, even for those of you who knew that, would you be able to explain what is it that an API does? Here it is in a nutshell: “Image interpretation (in this case aerial photo interpretation) is the most basic form of analysis, consisting of manual identification of features in a remote sensing image through visual interpretation. Image interpretation is based on elements that are inherent in imagery.” Also, “Air photos record all visible features on the Earth's surface from an overhead perspective. Although the features are visible, they are not always easily identifiable.(…) With careful interpretation, air photos are an excellent source of spatial data for studying the Earth's environment.”
From this description I’d like to highlight this sentence: “Image interpretation is based on elements that are inherent in imagery”. Elements such as: Shape, Color, Size, Texture, Context, Pattern and Shadow.
What are the elements inherent in the Christian life, like Arnie’s? How do we look with gratitude to a life of a redeemed lamb of His Shepherd in his walk of life on Earth? Although the features are visible, they are not always easily identifiable by everyone. We are able to see them when we look to life through the lens of faith.
What’s the Shape of such life? Arnie’s life took its definitive shape in His Baptism, when he received faith in Christ and was grafted into the vine. Our life takes shape in the faith that is given to us, molding everything else inside this frame of care and Love.
When it comes to Color, Size, Shadow and Texture, life with Christ is pleasant and happy for sure, but it is lived in a sinful world.
We know then that textures, sizes and colors of Arnie’s life events were certainly varied, as it goes for all of us. In Psalm 23 we hear both that The Lord gives us, through faith in Christ, green pastures and still waters, and that there is the valley of the shadow of death – in which we won’t fear for He is beside us. In John 14 we hear Jesus talking to His disciples about the special place He prepares for every Christian in Heaven, a beautiful painting and frame. But that episode happens during Maundy Thursday, a very stressful and even sad evening with His disciples.
I’m sure you can relate to situations like that in many ways. Like the black drapes that cover our windows on Good Friday - which were made by Arnie btw –, sin may cloud over light bringing sadness, sorrow, grief and sometimes even some despair in our lives.
What is the Pattern then, holding things together in life? It is the Context in which we are inserted. In Christ, we are in the context of the family of God, the body of Christ. Christ told his disciples, He tells us: “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the father, except through me.” Jesus is the picture that by faith we come to figure out and understand. In the context of Christian faith, we know we are forgiven. The black drapes of sin are removed by Him, and not by our own efforts; we are embraced by His love and care. We are guided by His rod and His staff. Also, we learn that goodness and mercy will be there for us all the days of our lives. The Psalm doesn’t say “Some days of our lives”; or “this offer applies only to selected months or years of our life”. It says “all the days”, even when they are almost 32,500 days on this side of Heaven like it was for Arnie’s life time.
As we look to our lives and try to interpret it during a time of loss and sorrow, in this case it is better not to trust our own capacity. It is always good to rest in the arms of the one who looks to the World from an overhead perspective. But He looks to our personal world from an insideheart perspective too – as he dwells in our hearts by faith. We can trust that death in not the final word. Life is the reality in Christ, the carpenter from Nazareth who came to give meaning to our life’s environment. He is the beautiful picture of God’s forgiveness and love in our lives.
Cc – Dear family and friends, I’ve learned that among many aspects of his life, Arnie was known for his creativity. He was always planning something new. He is now if the arms of our Father, Creator of the World, who strengthens us during this time of grief. And He has planned something new. He creates new Earth and New Heavens for us to live forever in them. That is also something that we all still don’t know exactly how it works. But we know it will be an wonderful picture; a wonderful and eternal one.