Dennis Dusterbeck Funeral Sermon - John 14:1–7 Oct 27th 2018 / Courage in Death the Gift of Christ Jesus
Dennis Lloyd Dusterbeck Funeral Sermon - Pr. Ted A. Giese / Saturday October 27th 2018: Season of Pentecost / John 14:1–7 - Courage in Death the Gift of Christ Jesus
[Jesus says,] “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,] “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me.” Let not your hearts be troubled. In my last conversation with Dennis he said, “I’m not afraid of death.” “I’m not afraid of dying.” In the obituary many of you will have read the part where it talked about Dennis’ courageous battle with cancer. Dennis had courage in the face of cancer and in the face of death. This wasn’t the foolhardy courage of a teenager this was a mature and measured courage that comes from his God given faith in Christ Jesus the very same Jesus who said to His disciples the night before His own death at the Good Friday cross of Golgotha, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” Jesus was telling His disciples that day to take courage, to take courage after His death and to not let their hearts be troubled. This is the kind of courage that Dennis had. It did not spring up over night. No it is a courage that grew over time from his baptism back in 1939, which he confirmed before God and the world in 1953, courage that continued to grow right until the time of his death on October 18th of this year. In this God given faith in Christ Jesus were the seeds of the courage, now full grown, that you who were closest to Dennis witnessed in these last days and months and years.
Dear Christian, the seeds of such courage are planted in your heart too. And in times like these when all the world seems shaken, when the fear of death comes to crouch at your door to frighten you remember these words from Christ Jesus, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me.” It was this same Jesus who walked on ahead of you through the valley of death, who walked its path straight to His crucifixion and death and then three days later that first Easter morning walked out of the cold stone tomb with resurrected nail pierced feet, feet that in His Ascension walked straight into heaven.
Jesus has walked this road through death and in Psalm 23 King David writes the words that we heard this morning from Psalm 23 verse 4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” In our last visit together in the palliative care unit at the Pasqua Hospital I read these words from Psalm 23. And trusting in Christ Jesus our Good Shepherd Dennis faced death without fear because His trust was in Jesus and in Jesus’ victory over death and the grave. Dennis knew that Jesus was with him and that just as Jesus said in our Gospel reading today that it would be Jesus who would also come to Dennis in the hour of his death “and take [him] to [Himself], that where I am, [Jesus says] you [Dennis, you dear Christian] may be also.” Trust in this promise of Jesus and in the promises of Baptism, trust in this gave Dennis his courage.
We then prayed the Lord’s Prayer together, the prayer that Jesus teaches us to pray, the prayer we pray today in our Service and in the The Seventh Petition of that prayer Dennis and I, we all together today, prayed and pray, “deliver us from evil.” Cancer is certainly evil, death is certainly evil: When we pray this “We pray in this petition, in summary, that our Father in heaven would rescue us from every evil of body and soul, possessions and reputation, and finally, when our last hour comes, give us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven.” And of course it is Jesus who promises to take us to His Father’s house in heaven, to do just that. Jesus says, “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 our Good Shepherded, Jesus the carpenter, the Master Builder goes to prepare a place for us, for Dennis, for you. Nailed to the wooden beams of the cross Jesus prepares it for you, entombed in the stone of his grave Jesus prepares it for you, with all the physical might of His bodily resurrection on Easter morning Jesus builds and prepares a place for you, a future home, the house to which Jesus has taken Dennis, to which Jesus will one day come to take you.
Dennis was content with this, and as He looked back on His life Dennis was content with the life he lived, with joy he said, “I had a good life,” to which I said, “you have a good life,” we talked about the blessings of having a strong and happy marriage, he spoke of his love for you Elsie and his love for his daughters Tammy and Leanne, we talked about his grandkids Liam and Kayleigh. He was glad that Tammy and Leanne have Keith and Sam, their support and help and love. All of this is a gift from God “house and home, wife and children ... all I have” as the Small Catechism says comes from the Lord and in all of this we need to remember what the Bible says, king David’s Son the wise and prosperous king Solomon who could have claimed that he did it all, his earthly kingdom, by his own work or that he had it by luck, or simply by inheritance from his father David, wrote in Psalm 127 verse on 1 these profound words printed on the back of your bulletin today, words that point to where these things truly come from, Solomon writes, “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” All through Dennis’ life it was God the Father, who built the house, who with Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit made the home which Dennis and Elsie and Tammy and Leanne and you all have enjoyed as family, as friends. Dennis knew this and trusted it, He had it in his death and here you all are, Dennis has it now and in Christ Jesus Dennis has it eternally. “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain,” and what does Jesus say, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many rooms … [Jesus says] I go to prepare a place for you?”
Jesus does all of this, His cross, His Passion, His decent into Hell, His Resurrection from the dead and His Ascension to The Right Hand of God the Father so that, as Jesus puts it, “where I am you may be also,” so that where Jesus is His faithfully departed will be there with Him.” Wherever Jesus goes there Dennis will be. And so it was that on the day of our last visit and on all the days before when I was able to provide it at home and here in church and on all the days before that when he received it from pastors of the past, in Holy Communion heaven and earth came together and Jesus who promises to be there, to physically be there in a mystical and mysterious union of His Body and Blood with the bread and the Wine all the hosts of heaven were there too tucked away in Christ Jesus for as Jesus says “where I am you may be also,” Wherever Jesus goes His faithfully departed go with Him. And so it was on that day and on the days before that the faithfully departed family of Dennis where with him in Christ Jesus and Dennis in Christ Jesus now enjoys the beginnings of the happy reunion in Christ Jesus with those who have gone on ahead of him in the Faith because he is now with them in Christ Jesus. A reunion that will meet its final fulfilment when The Last Day comes and we Christians are all gathered into Christ Jesus, when we will be risen from the dead to life everlasting together.
In our Gospel reading today Jesus says, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.” With joy Dennis said to me, “I had a good life,” to which I said to Dennis, “you have a good life,” yes you have a Good Jesus, a Good Shepherd who is with you in the valley of the shadow of death, who is with you in Holy Communion, who is Dennis’ Life now, who is Dennis’ eternal life. The life Dennis continues to live in Christ Jesus even now.
And yet here we are. Would that death was not something to pass through that it would be no more, that it would not be a conquered enemy but one that no longer exists to give us grief to cause us to mourn, that we, that Dennis would not have to face it with courage. Dear Christian the day is coming when “death shall be no more,” in our heavenly home the one to which Jesus has brought Dennis it is gone, and on The Last Day death is put to death and as Jesus says “Behold, I am making all things new.” In that Eternal Day, Jesus says, “there shall be no mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” This same Jesus also says of Himself in the Book of Revelation, “Fear not, I Am The First and The Last, and The Living One. I died, and behold I Am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” Do you want to face death with the same courage that Dennis did? To be content even in pain and to live through the suffering without complaint as Dennis did? Then you need the same faith, the same Jesus, the same Lord and baptism upon which Dennis relied and took heart in. There you will find true courage, in Christ Jesus you will find true contentment with this life and the life to come.
God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit built Dennis’ House and watched over Dennis all his days and still do. Dear Christian this promise Dennis alone, it is for you and for your children also. 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.
 Revelation 21:5
 Revelation 21:4
 Revelation 1:17–19