Caroline Yahnke Funeral Sermon - John 14:1-7 March 26th 2019 / The Gift of Time
Funeral Sermon for Caroline Hannah Yahnke / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Tuesday March 26th 2019: Season of Lent / John 14:1-7 "The Gift of Time"
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.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.”
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. Depending on air conditions, the direction of flight and what it is that they are up to a hummingbird’s wings will beat between 50 and 200 flaps per second. Set aside exertion or rest and the average hummingbird’s heart rate beats around 1,200 beats per minute: by comparison, your heart rate should be somewhere between 60-100 beats per minute at rest. Humming birds on the average live between 3 and 5 years. Carol would likely know these facts about hummingbirds even if you did not. She loved them.
Now 3 and 5 years doesn’t seem like a long time yet Hummingbirds are not the shortest living creature in all of God’s creation and we are not the longest living creature in all of God’s creation there are some bristlecone pine trees that are over 5,000 years old and Mayflies live for only 24 hours, just one day; that’s about 1.7 million hummingbird heart beats. In Psalm 145 the Psalmist says of the Lord, “You open Your hand; You satisfy the desire of every living thing.” When we think of the things God gives, when we think of our daily bread, we often think of material blessings but when the Lord opens His hand He also gives blessings like the gift of time. To the Mayflies He gives one day, to the hummingbird He gives 4 years give or take, to the bristlecone pine tree He gives … who knows some are, like I said, 5,000 years old already and still living; to Carol God gave 79 years and over 50 of them, 56 of them in fact, He gave to Verden and Carol in Holy Matrimony. I could list off how long she worked, how old their girls Corinna and Tamra are (But I’m sure they wouldn’t like that much), yes I could measure out the length of time Carol had in many things in her life, many of those things you already know - like how long you personally have known her as friend, family, sister in Christ Jesus. All of it is a gift. All that time a gift.
Simply put every decade, every year, every week, every Sunday in the Lord’s House at Church, every day, hour, minute is a gift from God. We may at one moment or another feel dissatisfied with the time we have: we want more when it’s good, filled with fun and excitement, and we want less when it’s bad, filled with suffering and trouble. In all our days it is wisdom which helps us find satisfaction in the time we have been given regardless of what that time is filled with. And as Scripture teaches us, “The fear of the LORD, [that is respect of the LORD, and who He is, and what He has done] is the beginning of wisdom;” and the Psalmist likewise says, “all those who practice [wisdom] have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!” Jesus provides this bit of wisdom to us when He says, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” Jesus goes on to say how much God the Father loves you, so much that, “even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” God knows how many feathers are on the hummingbird and how many times it’s little heart beats and He knows you right down to the smallest detail, and He knows what you need, what you need to be satisfied.
But I am not satisfied … death is not satisfying; it has robbed me of Carol: my wife, my mom, my aunt, my grandmother, my friend. This too the Lord knows and rest assured He loves you even in your grief and loss. On the night in which He was betrayed, the day before His crucifixion on that first Good Friday, Jesus while speaking to His disciples, knowing that He was soon going to His death said to them, “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.” Jesus who hangs dead at the centre of time on the cross of Calvary, His hands open and nailed to the wood of the beam of the cross, satisfies the desire of every living thing with those open hands: and in that place, on that day, in that time, for all time, He defeated death by allowing death to take Him, and every evil you ever did placed on Him there. Death swallowed Him up and He was laid to rest in the tomb. God the Father therefore knows what it is like to have family die, He looked on and witnessed the death of His Son, His burial. And then three days later He raised His Son Jesus from the dead and in that resurrection we have the promise of our resurrection and eternal life and in eternity there is complete and total satisfaction. This is place of final satisfaction is the house that Jesus ascended to 40 days after Easter, it was prepared for you upon the cross with His blood, the last nails, the finishing nails, hammered home in that place, on that day, in that time, for all time. In your Christian faith, in your baptism into Jesus, you have a room in that house, in the eternal Home of God the Father.
The revealing of that place, this promised House, that heavenly Home, will come in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye as Saint Paul says, and this will happen on The Last Day. And of That Day Jesus says, “Behold, I am making all things new.” In the mean time Jesus does as He promises: when we die with our faith in Him, as Carol did, He comes to us and takes us to Himself just as He did for Carol. She is with Him in eternity awaiting The Last Day and we now here in this life continue with all “creation [to wait] with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God, [the daughters of God, the Children of God on That Day in the resurrection].” But what about the time we have been given today? What do we do with this gift? What will you do with it? The Wisdom of Solomon inspired by the Holy Spirit says that there is a time for everything, yes “for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.”
What will you do with the time you have been given? Carol made the most of the time she had, she will be greatly missed here at Mount Olive as she spent much time here serving the Lord and serving her neighbour with all she did, yet not only here; she will be missed at the card table, on the dance floor, in the kitchen, and in many other places, many of which only you will know. This absence that we know feel in grief is also a temporary one, it too shall pass. For we do not know how long we have to feel it, for we do not know the time of our departure when Jesus will come and take us to Himself to the place which has been prepared for us. Whether your remaining days are as short as mayfly or a hummingbird or as long as Carol’s have been, remember those who die with their faith in Jesus have eternity in their heavenly home, the blessed rest of the Saints in light.
Carol knew where it was that she was going, her heavenly home, and she knew how to get there, guided by the open hand of her precious Saviour leading her to her heavenly home. When Jesus first spoke the words of our Gospel Reading today it was the disciple Thomas who spoke for the rest of the disciples saying, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” The answer Jesus gives in one dear to Carol, that she trusted it with all her heart, this answer is likewise for you this day and for all your days, Jesus said of Himself, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” In this same Jesus God the Father truly satisfies the desire of every living thing giving you forgiveness and life everlasting in Christ Jesus.
In the days, and weeks and years to come turn to Jesus, He knows the taste of death, turn to God the Father He knows the pain of grief, turn to the Holy Spirit He has mercy and comfort for you as you press onward with the time you are given. Dear ones “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me.” Jesus says, and “In My Father's house are many rooms,” a heavenly home for you, for Carol: At present it stands unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see. Until That Glorious Day, “we walk by faith, not by sight.” But we do not walk alone, Christ Jesus walks with us, Jesus takes your hand, He walks with you, leading you home. Hold firm to that hand as Carol did. 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
 Psalm 145:16
 Psalm 111:10
 Matthew 6:26–27
 Matthew 10:30
 1 Corinthians 15:52
 Revelation 21:5
 Romans 8:19
 Ecclesiastes 3:1–8
 Colossians 1:12, “giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.”
2 Corinthians 5:7