Elizabeth Schwartz Funeral Sermon - John 14:1–7 June 12th 2020 / Brought Home in Christ
(There is additional audio at the end of the recording of this Sermon not found in the text found below speaking more about bodily resurrection)
Funeral Sermon for Elizabeth Schwartz Cupar Cemetery Graveside Service / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Friday June 12th 2020: Season of Pentecost / John 14:1–7 "Brought Home 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. When Jesus said to His disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me,” Their world was about to be turned on its head. Jesus was about to be arrested in the night, taken from them and crucified. Jesus was about to die and they didn’t know it. They didn’t know that when He said “I go and prepare a place for you” that He meant the cross. When we hear this passage from the Gospel of John we might think of Jesus with blueprints and lumber, hammer and nails building us a mansion yonder in the sweet by and by but what He meant was the cross. The first three nails in your mansion, your place in the Fathers House in heaven, your room there in that place were nailed into Jesus at the cross on that first Good Friday. Liz knew this. She trusted it. This promise was dear to her just as you were all dear to her too. And while this corona virus world that we have found ourselves in has turned our personal world upside down there are some things that have not changed. And this is why Jesus prefaces His promise to them by saying “Let not your hearts be troubled.”
In the Book of Hebrews in the Bible we are taught that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” The verse before that verse is an encouragement to us as Christians when it says, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” As we remember the grace of God extended to Elizabeth in her Baptism and in her Christian life and we contemplate what it means to have been given 95 years of life in this world it is not hard to think of Liz as a leader in the faith. Certainly this was the case in her actions. If you had eyes to see and you were looking you would have witnessed her devotional life. She was an avid reader of the Portals of Prayer Lutheran daily devotionals which includes recommended Scripture readings and short prayers. Even in her 90’s she didn’t want to have the large print version and only started getting them that way more recently. Even when she wasn’t able to get to the church at Mount Olive she wouldn’t miss our monthly Communion Service for the Lutheran Church Canada members at the Regina Lutheran Home. She loved having me visit her, especially if she was in Hospital so I could bring her Communion in her times of need. And I was glad to be able to be with her and her son Gary the afternoon before she was called home. As some of you may have heard we sang hymns together, including the ones we are singing today. And as you all know, I’m sure, she sung alto with the family and in the St. Paul Lutheran Church choir out here in Cupar where she had made herself involved in her church in other was too. Her faith was important to her and she would want your faith in Christ Jesus to be important to you too. She knew, and firmly believed, that Jesus was and is and ever shall be the Way, and the Truth, and the Life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him: Which is to say that she knew that Jesus was the Way in this life and that He would come to take her to Himself, to His Father’s house when her time came.
I will miss her dearly and the thing that makes it easier for me, not easy but easier, is that I have confidence that when Jesus takes me to Himself, to His Father’s House Liz and all the rest of the faithfully departed who died with their faith in Christ Jesus will be there waiting to great me. This is the happy reunion we long for on days like today and in those quiet moments when our hearts ach to be with the ones who have gone on ahead of us in Christ Jesus. I pray that you would have the same confidence in Jesus that Elizabeth had, that the Holy Spirit would grant such confidence to you so you too can look forward to That Day. Liz kept the faith for 95 years, growing in it, enlightened by the Holy Spirit and kept in the Christian Church in Christ Jesus by the same Holy Spirit.
Today you might feel like St. Thomas, not knowing the way to go, you may have felt this way at different points in your life over the years, if that is you remember you are not alone, even Tomas who knew Jesus personally for three years was unsure of what was coming next, little did Thomas know that Jesus would not only die for his sins but would be risen to new and eternal life three days later, little did Thomas know that he would then be commanded to walk the earth telling others this Good news in Christ Jesus. Little did Thomas know that Jesus was paving the way ahead of him, the same way that Elizabeth followed all the long years of her life. So whether you are unsure, or firm in your faith, whether you are at home in God’s Word or not, whether you are looking forward to your heavenly Home in God the Father’s Eternal House or you are frequently doubting remember Jesus’ Words “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me.” Believe in Jesus and never forget that your faith in Him is not dependant on your personal reason or strength. Jesus is faithful; He is the friend who has truly carried your load of cares, He knows your every woe and trouble, you can trust Him because He fulfils His promises. Will you have 95 years in this life as Liz had? God knows. Will you have Eternal life? This is what Jesus promises here and He doesn’t give you a road map and tell you to start walking He gives you Himself, for He is the Way and He comes to you, your are not expected to walk to Him.
On the Last Day when we are risen from the dead Elizabeth will stand right here and Bill Schwartz will be standing right next to her and they will look up and see Jesus on the clouds descending in the same way He ascended, and all people everywhere from all times, even those yet unborn should our Lord’s return be far off will see Him coming. You will see Jesus coming on That Day. Think on that. On That Day our happy reunion will be in the flesh, we will be able to hug one another and shake each other’s hands and kiss each other and walk together into Eternity made new, with a new heart which will never know sin ever again, or heartache or sadness. The perfect cabbage roll made even more perfect and the sound of singing unlike human ears have heard since the birth of Christ landing upon our ears and in those voices you’ll hear Elizabeth’s voice more perfect than it already had been.
The hope of all of these promised good things is found in no one other that Jesus, by whose blood you have been washed clean. Elizabeth would want you to think on these things and take them to heart. Her time has come; we do not know when our time will come. Perhaps in these recent days we have thought a bit more about death and that’s not a bad thing if in those thought your mind in centred on Christ Jesus. In the mean time, “Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace." And we know that the grace of God “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 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.
 Hebrews 13:8
 Hebrews 13:7
 Hebrews 13:9
 Philippians 4:7