Beverley Mitchell Funeral Sermon - Revelation 7:9–17 May 25th 2019 / The Happy Reunion
Funeral Sermon for Beverley Ruth Mitchell - Regina Funeral Home / Pr. Ted A. Giese from Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Saturday May 25th 2019: Season of Easter / Revelation 7:9–17 "The Happy Reunion"
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
“Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter
them with his presence.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
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. In our epistle reading this morning we heard about the, “great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne [of God] and before the Lamb [who is Christ Jesus], clothed in white robes,” this is a picture of heaven and we have already heard a couple songs this morning that talk a bit about heaven too!
When a loved one like Beverley dies, someone dear to us; Thoughts of them joining the host arrayed in white in heaven with Christ can come to mind. And at such times, such thoughts can be a mixed bag of emotions. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther who at the death of his 14 year old daughter Magdalena Luther, his daughter who had died in his arms at home following a brief and painful illness in the year 1542, said of his daughter when she was finally at rest, “You will rise and shine like the stars and the sun, how strange it is to know that she is at peace and all is well and yet to be so sorrowful.” With the multitudes streaming into heaven through time there are countless families who like a trickle of water bit by bit are added to this River of Life. And as Beverley trickled in to that blessed stream we know she was met there by her beloved husband Don and her son Dennis and when Beverley sees them in the happy reunion in Christ Jesus all will be well yet you are left here sorrowful for a time. None of us know how much time we have. Martin Luther himself died of a stroke just 4 years after his 14 year old daughter Magdalena and their reunion in Christ Jesus came rather quickly, he didn’t know it would come only 4 years after her death. Beverley grieved the sudden loss of her husband Don in 2014 and Dennis the next year this has been a relatively short stretch from their deaths to her death: Which is to say, on the one hand, we can be at peace knowing Beverley didn’t have to wait long for her reunion with Don and Dennis and all those who went ahead of her with their faith in Jesus, clothed in the white robe of Jesus’ righteousness given in baptism; while on the other hand these death have come so close together for us here and have brought us sorrow and grief.
How does that Jonny Cash song go? “But if it proves to be His will [God’s will] that I am first to go, and somehow I've a feelin' it will be, When it comes your time to travel likewise, don't feel lost … I'll be waiting on the far side banks of Jordan” These could have been words of Don or even Dennis to Beverley; they could be words of Beverley to you: A reminder to keep the Christian faith with an eye on the promised land of heaven across the far side banks of Jordan where the happy reunion will take place. They echo what Jesus says to His disciples when He said to them in the night before His crucifixion and death, “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.” With St. Thomas you might be saying, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” How do I get to the far-side banks of Jordan? How do I get to heaven? How do I get to the happy reunion? Beverley said that this Johnny Cash song brought a tear to her eyes: a little sadness, a little sorrow, but also peace and joy and happiness knowing that she would indeed make it there to see Don and Dennis again. What did she know? As a Christian she knew and trusted the answer Jesus gave to Thomas when Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
In these last stages of cancer Beverley had an expectation that she would join them in heaven when her time came, she even had a dream of dancing with Don again, and that Allan Jackson song, “I want to stroll over Heaven with you,” was another song that brought her comfort: “I want to stroll over Heaven with you some glad day When all our troubles and heartaches are vanished away. Then we'll enjoy the beauty where all things are new.” In the last line there Jackson paraphrases a short passage from the Bible in Revelation chapter 21 where St. John tells us that, “He [God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (When all our troubles and heartaches are vanished away) And [Jesus] who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Then we'll enjoy the beauty where all things are new) And what will that enjoyment be like? Will it be like a dance?
King David from the Old Testament in the Bible who wrote Psalm 23 aslo wrote Psalm 30 which points to this future life in Christ Jesus, our eternal life in Him, the life Beverley now shares with Don and Dennis and all those who have passed on ahead of us with their faith in Jesus, when in Psalm 30 David praises God saying, “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth [my funeral clothing, my grieving] and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing Your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever!” and King Solomon, David’s son, in his wisdom wrote in Ecclesiastes chapter 3, how there is, “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;” Heaven will be a time to laugh and dance together.
Death for the Christian is not like it is for others, for us we know that the body may sleep in the grave awaiting the alarm clock, the trumpet sound on The Last Day, when the body will wake up from the grave as a kid wakes up from their bed, ready to dance full of energy and life, for the Christian the soul is not asleep as the body is, the soul is awake in heaven with Jesus and their fellow Christians awaiting the dawn of that Last Day when the fullness of eternal life will come to be, suddenly, in the twinkling of an eye. Death for the Christian has lost its sting, Jesus took the sting out of it at the cross with His own death and with His Easter Morning resurrection, and with His promise to you of Eternal Life in Him … so while we mourn Beverley and Dennis and Don’s passing over the River to “the far side banks of Jordan” along with all those we love who have died in the Christian Faith we also know that their life carries on in Christ Jesus. This is why St. Paul writes in Romans Chapter 8, “If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead [God the Father] will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” Likewise he writes in Colossians chapter 3, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” Paul then gives this advice to the Christian, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you” and why; because this life is only part of your life. Just as this life was only part of Beverley’s life. What will you do for the rest of your life? The Life which is to come? Will it be darkness and separation from those who have gone on ahead with their faith in Christ? That is the path of the one who has no faith in Jesus. Or will it be the path that Beverley was guided down, the one Jesus shepherded her thought, the Christian way, the Christian truth, the Christian life. Now is a perfectly good time to think on these things. As you think on them remember that the Holy Spirit is at work in you calling you to Jesus, gathering you to Him as He gathered Beverley and Don and Dennis to Jesus.
Later we’ll hear another song in which the question will be asked, “Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?” Beverley has The Dance for the rest of her life; she has this dance for her eternal life, the life she now experiences in Christ Jesus. She has come through her great tribulation. Her robes have been washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb through her baptism. What was hidden away in her, she now sees and she now is hidden away in Jesus. This dance is not only for her, you too can have this same dance in Christ Jesus that blessed happy reunion and eternal life in heaven: Listen to the voice of Jesus as He calls us all to the eternal dance floor. You don’t know when your song will start to play so be ready for the dance today, tomorrow and always. Keep your faith in Jesus as Beverley did. “By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you,” as she did, always ready for the dance. 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.
 Here I Stand, by Roland Bainton, Chapter XVII entitled “The School for Character,” page 237.
 Revelation 21:4–5
 Psalm 30:11–12
 Ecclesiastes 3:4
 Romans 8:11
 Colossians 3:3–5a
 2 Timothy 1:14