Edgar Manz Funeral Sermon - Ezekiel 17:22–24 October 6th 2021 / The Evergreen Salvation of Christ Jesus
Funeral Sermon for Edgar Manz, Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Wednesday October 6th 2021: Season of Pentecost / Ezekiel 17:22–24 "The Evergreen Salvation of Christ Jesus"
Thus says the Lord GOD: “I Myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and will set it out. I will break off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and I Myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain height of Israel will I plant it, that it may bear branches and produce fruit and become a noble cedar. And under it will dwell every kind of bird; in the shade of its branches birds of every sort will nest. And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the LORD; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it.”
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, family and friends of Edgar Manz. In the beginning when Adam and Eve disobeyed the LORD and fell into sin, when death entered the world, the LORD God did not abandon what He made; He took responsibility for it and promised a Saviour, salvation and life in the face of death. He did not scrap what was dead and start again He chose rather to redeem it and all of creation. To the ancient serpent, the great dragon, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world, who had deceived both Adam and Eve into sin, God Said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” In those words the seed of salvation was implanted and the promise grew, the expectation of the faithful completion of this promise grew until it was like a mighty and lofty cedar, a bright evergreen full of life in the face of death.
The Passage you heard from Ezekiel chapter 17 is not simply about botanical horticulture, it is poetic and prophetic language that teaches about the promise of God to save His creation and it points forward to Jesus, the Christ, His incarnation, life and crucifixion; it points to the fruit that His crucifixion produced. The passage also shows the way in which God promises to do these things, He makes it His responsibility to fulfil what He promises, we see this in the way the passage ends when God says, “I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it.” At the very lofty height of expectation, “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” Like a sprig of evergreen Jesus, the Son of God, was conceived by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and was made Man. And where Adam had brought death into life Jesus has brought life into death. In His incarnation and birth the baby Jesus, this “young twig,” this “tender one,” grew and the evergreen quality of His life shone through the darkness until He was planted on a high and lofty mountain, on the mountain height of Israel, Mount Calvary, Golgotha the place of the Skull where Jesus had His Good Friday crucifixion. Again Jesus the Son of God, Jesus who was is and ever shall be God did not shrink from the responsibility of going to the Cross, from the death He would die there in His crucifixion, nailed to the wooden beams of the Cross which Saint Peter calls a tree. Speaking of Jesus, Peter says, “[Jesus] Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds," Saint Peter says, “you have been healed.” Remember what Ezekiel chapter 17 says, “I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it.” Jesus bore our sins Himself in His body on the tree, planted there for all of Jerusalem to see.
As disciples of Christ Jesus Christians learn many lessons from Jesus and often Christians take one or two of these lessons to heart and the seeds of it flourish in their life. The Holy Spirit cultivates and makes these fruits grow. In Edgar one of these lessons of Christ that he learned well was to embrace responsibility. When Edgar was responsible for something whether that was part of the construction of a building, running an association of contractors or sportsmen, the spiritual wellbeing of people in his church as an Elder, his children and grandchildren and family members whatever the case may be Edgar would set his face like flint in steadfast determination and do what would be needed to be done for the good of whatever, or whomever he was responsible for within his God given abilities to do so. Undergirded by his convictions and faith Edgar was undaunted in the face of challenge. When Christ says “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me,” Edgar, believing in the way Jesus lived and died, did just that and in so doing Edgar found his life in Christ Jesus. Life in Christ Jesus which spilled over unto and into his family, friends and fellow Christians and onto all he laid his hand to. Now stone and wood are more co-operative than people most of the time but even still Edgar continued to reach out with Christ Jesus to men and women and children in need of the gifts Jesus won at the Cross in His Crucifixion. Edgar valued these gifts and so he desired others to have them the way he did.
When, in Ezekiel 17, we hear how “on the mountain height of Israel [God] will plant [His sprig], that it may bear branches and produce fruit and become a noble cedar. And under it will dwell every kind of bird; in the shade of its branches birds of every sort will nest,” here then we have a poetic picture pointing to the Church, with Edgar and you and I nested under the outstretched arms of Jesus upon His cross. In the Crucifixion Jesus prepared a place for Edgar, for you, for me. This is part of what Jesus means when He said on the Thursday Night before His crucifixion, “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,” a place for you to be nested under in the shade of the branches of the noble cedar of the cross of Christ Jesus. And just as every kind of bird has different plumage and colouring we too are different from each other while we are still one in Christ Jesus, all birds, different feathers, different talents and gifts to share with those around us. Without the tree of the cross, without Jesus planted there we would not be redeemed we would have no where to find shad from the heat of sin in this world: we would be lost because we cannot redeem ourselves, we cannot make our own shade, no matter how hard we work, no matter how hard we try.
There is a tradition among the German hunters, of which Edgar was a part, where when a deer or an elk, let’s say, is shot and the hunter becomes responsible for it in death he breaks of a sprig of evergreen or some other green branch and puts it in the mouth of the game. It is a kind of symbol of a last meal provided by the hunter because the hunter has assumed responsibility for what is now his. The roots of this tradition are deep and thinking on all you have heard today ponder anew what can be made of it when we think on the “young twig,” the “tender one,” the evergreen sprig who is Christ Jesus our Lord. In Holy Communion, in His Last Supper before His death upon the cross in Crucifixion Jesus gives Himself as heavenly food for those He is responsible for. While a sprig of evergreen in the mouth of a deer or an elk is purely symbolic, the bread and the wine of Holy Communion when blessed with God’s Word and at God’s Command is not purely symbolic it is the very body and blood of Jesus given for the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. Edgar firmly believed this. And let’s be clear. It is not true to Edgar because he believed it to be true; no Edgar believed it because it is true, not simply symbolically true but actually true. Where Adam and Eve ate forbidden fruit which brought death we by the grace of God eat fruit from the tree of Christ Jesus as His invited guests and family, served from the wood of His table, the wood of His crucifixion a fruit which brings life to those dead in their trespasses and sins. A heavenly food received by a repentant heart that calls out “Abba! Father!,” to the LORD.
Edgar’s conviction and faith held firm that the LORD truly promised Adam and Eve, and their faithful decedents through time, a concrete real and everlasting salvation, and that therefore Adam and Even were in fact real people like you and I, not mythical characters invented by the minds of men as useful for teaching morals, that you could have—had you lived at that time—shaken hands with them and that the Salvation Jesus won for them He also won for us, for Edgar for you for me. And that just as God took upon Himself the responsibility to save Adam and Eve, God likewise took on the responsibility for us all, “For God loved the world in this way, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” Edgar trusted in this, he knew that he was in God’s hands and as Edgar would often say in the face of trouble and illness of any kind, “the good Lord will take care of me.” Edgar knew that God would not shirk His responsibilities toward him. In life Edgar was rescued from death and in death Edgar is tucked away into the life of Christ won at the cross as one now rescued from death. And just as Christ Jesus was raised from the dead three days after His Crucifixion on that first Easter Morning so too will Edgar be raised up on The Last Day to eternal life. In life, in death, in whatever circumstances Edgar trusted that God would take care of him and so He has.
I’ll leave you with a words from Saint Paul from Philippians chapter 4, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Saint Paul learned from God’s Word, he learned from Christ Jesus and so Saint Paul as a teacher says “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things,” as a Christian Edgar learned from God’s Word, he learned from Christ Jesus so I can say, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in [Edgar, everything that is true, honourable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and/or worthy of praise]—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” The Holy Spirit, Christ Jesus, God the Father all work through Christians to the glory of God and the good of the neighbour. God redeems the lost and we His children desire to be like Him in all we say and do. Find your rest therefore under the noble outstretched arms of Jesus; be nested there in the shade of His arms, be protected there in the palm of His nail pierced hand, and the LORD will make of you, His redeemed ones, what He desires, and remember what God says, “I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it.” 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 12:9
 Genesis 3:15
 Galatians 4:4–7
 Romans 5:12–21, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
 1 Peter 2:24
 Matthew 16:24-25
 John 14:1–3
 John 3:16
 Philippians 4:8–9
Photo Credits: Main Photo provided by Mount Olive Lutheran Church; Evergreen sprig from pexels.com; Photo of Edgar painting yellow safty lines by Pr. Ted Giese; Stained Glass Crucifixion from pexels.com; Photo of Edgar surveying the fields at Historic Reesor Ranch, Cypress Hills Saskatchewan, by Pr. Ted Giese; Stained Glass Jesus provides Holy Communion from pxhere.com; Edgar serving as a Higher Things conference chaperone by Pr. Ted Giese.