Darrell Iles Funeral Sermon - John 14:1-7 July 10th 2019 / Life in Christ
Funeral Sermon for Darrell Iles at Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Wednesday July 10th 2019: Season of Pentecost / John 14:1-7 "Life in Christ"
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. Jesus says “I go to prepare a place for you” He says this to His disciples. The supper is over, for the first time they’d received Holy Communion: giving them the bread Jesus had said to them “take, eat; this is My Body,” giving them the wine of the cup Jesus said to them, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” The next day Jesus’ body would be nailed to the cross and His blood would be shed for the forgiveness of your sins. He knew this was about to happen when He said, “I go to prepare a place for you” at it was at the cross of Good Friday that He prepared that place. After Jesus’ crucifixion, death, resurrection and ascension St. Peter, one of those disciples, would later write by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit saying, “He himself [that is Jesus] bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds,” St. Peter says, “you have been healed.”
The whole World needs to be healed, all of creation reaching back to the very beginning when humanity fell into sin, stretching right back to Adam and Eve and their original sin needs to be healed. When they ate from the forbidden tree they brought forth death and set in motion Jesus’ path to the tree that St. Peter talks of, the tree of the cross and Jesus’ crucifixion. It’s not popular to speak of that original sin yet it is something we all share, handed down to us from our first parents. It touches every one of us. In it is the brokenness of the fallen World and the fingerprints of its corruption; these things sadly touch us all. The fingerprints of sin, death, the devil and the fallen World are on each of us: they may vary in intensity from time to time, what you deal with may be different from the next person, your temptations are not their temptations, and what you die from may likewise be different than what another person dies from; and however it may be for you or them Scripture teaches us that the playing field, as a result of original sin, is a level playing field. We tend not to grieve when the brokenness of this fallen World impacts an obviously and outwardly wicked person the frustrating part is that this brokenness would lay its hands on a man like Darrell: kind, thoughtful, giving of his time, willing to put others first. When Darrell in the midst of his depression was asked if he was thinking of self harm he said it was not in him to take his own life; that he could not morally do it. The fact that he did is shocking because it is so unlike him in every way.
Not all suicides are the same. When a Japanese samurai was defeated in battle and wished not to be taken captive by his enemies he would perform Seppuku, that is death by his own hand and weapon; then there are people who have been convicted of a crime and sentenced to long prison terms who choose to end their lives before reporting for confinement. In such cases these are people who are mentally well and know exactly what they are doing; their motivations might be to avoid perceived embarrassments or indignities. Then there are cases where depression, or a mental breakdown, is the cause in the same way that a stroke or a heart attack can suddenly or quickly take a person’s life. These again are evidence of the fallen and broken nature of the World and in such cases Martin Luther once said because such people don’t actually want to kill themselves they are more “like a man who is murdered in the woods by robbers.” This is what we have witnessed with Darrell a man overcome by an illness. His depression was like the dark woods filled with robbers. And you can be angry with that illness because like a robber it has robed you of time with Darrell. That is the thing to be angry with. There is nothing romantic in it; it is a sad and heartbreaking thing. There is nothing good in it; in fact this is to be counted as part of the brokenness that plagues us all. And like a plague it can spread. So help put an end to it here. No one wanted this for Darrell, and he didn’t want this for himself and he certainly wouldn’t want it for any of you. In the same way that a man who dies of cancer doesn’t want to die of cancer and doesn’t want you to die of it either.
So we return to the words of Jesus who says to you today, “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.” This promise is for you just as it is for Darrell. We know that in his baptism Darrell received Christ Jesus and his Christian faith as a gift from the Holy Spirit just as you received Christ Jesus and the gift of Christian faith if you like Darrell have been baptized, and, “that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into [Jesus’] death,” St. Paul says, “We were buried therefore with [Christ Jesus] by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with [Jesus] in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with [Jesus] in a resurrection like His.” Yes, “[God] saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”
Everyone who dies regardless of the circumstances dies in need of the mercy of God. We all die with sins that need to be forgiven, there is only one man who died without sins of His own and that man is Jesus, yet remember what St. Peter wrote, “He himself [that is Jesus] bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds,” St. Peter says, “you have been healed.” So even Jesus died with sins, just not His own, all of ours.
Jesus walked through the valley of the shadow of death, with all its trees, He walked right through the dark woods and He was set upon by robbers, and wicked men who hated Him and killed Him. The very broken and fallen World He came to heal nailed Him to the tree of the cross. Christ Jesus knows the taste of death and in its place He gives us the taste of life, for as He says, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” In Holy Communion Jesus gives us a foretaste of the feast to come, the feast that will be served in that place that He has prepared for you.
Here, dear ones, let us shift our eyes to what is to come. We heard St. Paul says “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” Darrell has before him the promise of the resurrection of the dead and as a baptized Christian he has the promise of an imperishable body in Christ Jesus. This same Jesus says in the Book of Revelation, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
In Christ Jesus Darrell will be made new, his heart, his soul, his strength, his mind, his body all made new and Darrell will be as you remembered him to be at his best and if it can be believed Darrell in heaven will be better than his best because the fallen nature of this World with all its brokenness will have passed away, in fact in that place that Jesus has prepared for Darrell and for you and I, “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Diane, Christine, Michelle; Elaine, Judith, Darlene, Barry all you who are Darrell’s family and friends for many of you, especially his family, Darrell was your rock, this is how you described him to me. He was the one you would lean on and now you are asking “where can you turn? On whom can you lean?” Psalm 18 says, “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Jesus is the rock, some will stumble over Him but you dear ones can stand secure on Him. This rock, Christ Jesus, is the one Darrell was baptised into, the one Darrell stood on, the one in whom Darrell had his faith the one who said to Darrell and says to you, “I go to prepare a place for you … I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.” Therefore be not afraid, trust Christ Jesus for He goes before you always, He calls to you saying “come follow Me,” and it is He who will give you rest, and remember, what St. Paul teaches in his letter to the Ephesians, “For [it is] by [the] grace [of God that] you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” We then boast in Christ Jesus who gave His body and blood, His whole self for us; for in this Jesus we are saved, we are healed and in Him alone we have our rest. 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.
A couple resources for you: Emergency/Crisis Hotlines, Canadian Mental Health Association, Rev. Todd Peperkorn's autobiographical account, "I Trust When Dark My Road: A Lutheran View of Depression" PDF., or if you'd like to listen to the author talk about his personal experiance check out his interview on IssuesEtc.
 Matthew 26:27–28
 1 Peter 2:24
 Genesis 3
 Luther’s Works Volume 54 Table Talk, Concordia Publishing House 1967, Pg 29.
 Titus 3:5
 1 Corinthians 15:51–53
 Revelation 21:5
 Luke 10:27
 Revelation 21:1
 Psalm 18:2
 1 Peter 2:8
 Ephesians 2:8–9
 Galatians 6:14