Brent Leippi Funeral Sermon - Romans 5:1–5 September 28th 2020 / Hope that Overflows With Love
Mount Olive Lutheran Church - Graveside Funeral Sermon / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Monday September 28th 2020: Season of Pentecost / Romans 5:1–5 "Hope that Overflows With Love"
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
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 Christian standing in the grace given to them by God the Father through the blood, sweat and tears, the life and death and resurrection of His son Jesus, stands firmly as one who grows daily in hope. Brent never lost sight of his hope, never lost sight of Jesus because as St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Roman Christians in the Bible, “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” Brent had times of struggle in his life and in those struggles he knew suffering yet through endurance Brent gained strength: strength of character. His character was one of kindness particularly with his brother Ernie and with his mother Gert, I personally saw this over the years.
And this gets at the heart of what St. Paul says in Roman’s when he writes, “Therefore, since we [Christians] have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
It’s odd to think of rejoicing in our sufferings … take a moment and think, you in your life have sufferings, and at the height of them if someone was to come and say rejoice you’d likely be ticked off. What St. Paul is talking about and I think we can see this with Brent and perhaps if we’re lucky we can reflect on this for ourselves too, is to think of it more like a marathon runner. Yes the marathon runner suffers as he runs, often pressing hard through his suffering in order to get to the finish line and at the finish line once he has endured the race, he passes the line looking back with joy. When the race is complete and he is safely across then he can rejoice even in his sufferings.
Elsewhere St. Paul uses the same analogy when he looks back at his own life near the time of his death and says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth, [St. Paul says] there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing.” And so it is with each of us in the Christian life.
In St. Paul’s first letter to the Christians in Corinth he says, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable [one]. So I do not run aimlessly [St. Paul says]; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” This is the Grace of God that in Jesus you are being picked up and put back on your feat every day, that God is kind towards you and patient, giving you the time you need to grow in your faith, to build endurance and character all the while taking you by the hand and setting your eyes on Jesus who is our Hope, the hope of eternal life.
Listen again to the last part of the passage from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans that I read to you where Paul says “character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” A bucket in the farm yard will not fill itself with water. The farmer needs to pick it up and take it to the tap, take it to the well, take the hose to it and pour the water in. Or the sky needs to open up and pour rain down into it, one way or another the bucket is only filled up from the outside in. This is what we are all like. Whether is it a bucket, or a cup, it’s all the same, the Christian life is one in which “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.” You find this all over the Bible, we heard it also in Psalm 23 today, where the Psalmist says of God, “you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”
As Brent ran his race, as he gained endurance and character through his struggles there Jesus was pouring the love of God into Brent’s heart all the way, enough for Brent with enough overflowing out of the cup of Brent’s heart to pour into our hearts too. Never forget where all that love came from it was poured into Brent by God, the source of this overflowing love is God poured out from the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross that first Good Friday, each day, to this very day. Until we are past the finish line and see Jesus face to face, each day, each moment God pours this love into our hearts and so the Christian can say, “we love because [God] first loved us.” Brent had love to give to you because God, through Jesus, gave him enough love to share. The proud man will be broken by his struggles the humble man in Christ will learn what it means to be kind. Stand firmly in Jesus, the source of Brent’s hope and yours, the hope of all Christians. 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.
 2 Timothy 4:7–8
 1 Corinthians 9:24–27
 Psalm 23:5
 1 John 4:19