Carol Marie Riggs Funeral Sermon - Philippians 4, John 14, Psalm 23 - November 5th, 2021 / A heart of Go(l)d
Text: Philippians 4, John 14, Psalm 23
Theme: A heart of Go(l)d
Intr – What is your heart made of? I know, the answer is obvious, it is an organ inside of our chest made of a muscle tissue called cardiac muscle. It is also made of three layers of tissue. Endocardium, Myocardium, and Pericardium.
It seems though that not all hearts have that same constitution. From the meeting with the family earlier this week I’ve learned that Carol’s heart was made of a different material. They mentioned her love for family and people, how she always had time for others, putting others in front of herself, summing it up in an expression we know well: “She had a heart of gold”.
Does that mean that Carol was a perfect person, who always said and did the right things? Of course not, for there is no perfect person on Earth. The Bible tells us that we are all sinners, and we depend on God’s Grace for forgiveness and salvation. But this expression may help us to reflect on the fact that a heart of gold for a Christian is a reflex of a heart of God.
Two texts we heard today mention the heart. Jesus says in the Gospel: “Let not your hearts be troubled”. St. Paul comforts us “And the peace of God…will guard your hearts”. Now how can we think about not being troubled in the heart and also to enjoy peace at heart when we are grieving the loss of a loved one?
The answer lies in the heart of God. The Lord gives us a clean, a new heart, a heart that is of gold because of the gift of faith in Jesus, our Saviour, who purchased us to belong to Him. He did it not with gold or silver, but with His precious blood on the Cross.
The forgiveness and new life He won on His cross is applied to us in our Baptism, as it happened to Carol as early as one month after she was born, in 1952. In Holy Baptism God the Holy Spirit changes our heart of stone into a new heart. A heart of God.
This our heart is nurtured in life by His Holy Word, this precious jewel He gave us, bringing us teachings that are for life, and prompting us to put that faith into practice, showing a heart of gold as a fruit of our faith to our neighbor.
Still, when death strikes, it’s hard to avoid a troubled heart, and it’s easy to forget the peace that surpasses all understanding that guards our hearts in Christ Jesus. A Funeral tends to be something challenging for us at some level, because we don’t like death. We appreciate life, we love to live. Still, because of sin death is a part of the hardships we experience in life and we need to deal with it.
True solace, comfort and peace for our grief we find in God, and in Him alone. In faith, we are reminded that we have a heart of God, who is our source of “un-troubledness” and peace for our hearts and for our life. We find that in today’s Bible readings.
_The Lord is my shepherd – This call reminds us that our heart needs not to be wandering astray in the world. We have a Shepherd who cares for our souls.
_I am the way the Truth and the life – Jesus tells us that whenever we want to experience life and truth in its fullness, whenever we want to know that we’re walking in the right direction, this will happen by placing faith in Him. He is the life. Death is not the final word, Life is. In Him.
_Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. It doesn’t say “some days”, it doesn’t say which or how many years; it doesn’t say “there are some exceptions though”. Our heart finds goodness, mercy and peace in Him all the days of our lives.
While we still walk in this valley of tears though, with all the problems and sorrows, and especially mourning the loss of a loved one and learning how to live without them Jesus’ message is one and the same: as we walk in faith in Him, He leads our hearts and minds. He walks with us, wipes our tears. In the midst of a world of pain, sorrow and death, in Him we have the peace that surpasses all understanding, calming our hearts and focusing our minds in Him. And reminding us of our great hope: the last day, when all will be resurrected and we will be reunited to the ones who went ahead of us in Christ, to enjoy the eternal happiness of the life that will never end.
Cc – Dear friends and family, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” “The peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” These are gifts that not even all the gold in the world could pay for. And they are offered to us for free, poured in our hearts through faith in Jesus. In that faith, we have the heart of God. A precious treasure that will last forever.
 How the Heart Works – Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/how-heart-works
 Psalm 51:10
 Psalm 23:1
 John 14:6
 Psalm 23:6