Blog / Book of the Month / Elmer Numrich Funeral Sermon - John 14:1–7 Dec 21st 2018 / Moving Day

Elmer Numrich Funeral Sermon - John 14:1–7 Dec 21st 2018 / Moving Day

Elmer Numrich Funeral Sermon - John 14:1–7 Dec 21st 2018 / Moving Day

Funeral Sermon for Elmer Numrich - Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Friday December 21st 2018: Season of Advent / John 14:1-7 "Moving Day"

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: Lillian, family, good Christian friends. Elmer through his life was a good natured soul, fun, a jokester and while the last couple of years have seen some challenges to his health it’s fair to say that he tackled most everything that came his way with a light heart.

Having such a disposition is very helpful when you run a restaurant or a motel and it gets you through the day when you do back breaking work like moving and delivery work; He worked the longest at moving, from long haul deliveries, to packing and moving furniture close to home here in Regina. Perhaps all that moving in his work life made it easier to move from house to house in town with his family. Over the years they had at least 10 houses and as you know every time you get a new house you eventually need to move, there are procession dates that need to be kept in mind and a lot of elbow grease to make it happen.  

We often hear about Jesus as a carpenter, I'm not sure if Jesus made wooden toys for children the way Elmer did, but I know we often hear of Jesus as one who had been a carpenter, maybe it would be best to expand that thought though and think of Jesus as a general contractor, that’s what Jesus did before He entered into His public ministry. In the gospel of John Jesus also refers to Himself as The Good Shepherd saying, “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep,”[1] which means that when Psalm 23 says, “The Lord is my Shepherd” it’s talking about Jesus. Now when you listen closely to the Gospel lesson for today from John chapter 14 you hear Jesus say to His disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled [have a light heart]. 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?” That part sound like the sort of thing a carpenter, or a general contractor would say. Jesus is going to build you a room in His Father’s House, a heavenly home. Now listen again, and listen carefully to the next part, Jesus continues saying, “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.” Now we can see Jesus not only as the Good Shepherd walking with us “through the valley of the shadow of death,”[2] but also as the Good Mover delivering us to our Heavenly Home in His Father’s House, the very home He built for Elmer, for you and for me.

Jesus is the Way to get there, He walks with you every step of the Way and He brings you home, “so that where [He] is you may be also.” This is the promise made by Jesus to His disciples, and to you and to Elmer. A promise made on the night Jesus gave us Holy Communion, the night before His Cross and passion, where He put the final nails in your house at His crucifixion on that first Good Friday, and on this Friday we remember that Elmer’s room, and your room, and my room, are ready. Prepared with the blood, sweat and tears of Jesus yet made for eternal joy and peace and rest. Last week Elmer’s possession date on his heavenly home was finalized and today we lay him to rest, asleep in Christ Jesus, trusting that Elmer has been delivered safely to the Father’s House by the Good Mover, Jesus Christ.

On the front of your bulletin today you find Jesus’ words where He says, “Come to Me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”[3] This last move for Elmer was one that required no labour on His part, in this final move Elmer has nothing but rest, Jesus has done all the heavy lifting, all the back breaking labour, all the elbow grease. The deed for the House is signed in Jesus’ blood and it is given as a gift to Elmer, an inheritance that has come due and that inheritance is Elmer’s forever and ever. 

The house Elmer goes to is not some lonely house on a hill, but a room in the Father’s House, and if a room then there are other rooms too, more numerous than can be counted. Elmer goes to the happy reunion with all those who have died with their faith in Christ Jesus who likewise have a room in the Father’s House. Family and friends who have gone ahead of Elmer and family and friends who have gone on ahead so long ago that Elmer never met them in this life but just think a multitude of faithful folks who have not heard all of Elmer’s jokes yet; a place where joy and happiness and laughter are always welcome, where smiles, family and fun are part of the fabric of life. In Elmer’s baptism his boxes were packed and prepared to go to this heavenly home, and now Jesus has delivered on His promises, promises that made Elmer a member of God’s heavenly family, that delivered his full redemption, and completed his restoration in Jesus.  

Jesus became part of a family in His birth, the birth we celebrate each Christmas, His first home was in the place where the animals were bedded down for the night, Jesus’ first bed was the feed trough, that’s why we sang, “Why lies He in such mean estate, Where ox and ass are feeding?” in the hymn we continued by singing, “Good Christians, fear, for sinners here The silent Word is pleading. Nails, spear shall pierce Him through, The cross be borne for me, for you. Hail, hail the Word made flesh, The Babe, the Son of Mary.” Jesus took on the struggles of this life that we would have the peace and rest of heaven. This Son of God makes us children of God and made Elmer a son of the Heavenly Father. Trusting this makes the heart light, so as Jesus says, “Let not your hearts be troubled.” In the coming season of Christmas we turn our minds to think of the gift God the father gives in His Son Jesus and from that gift we can think of the gift God has given Elmer and each of us, an eternal inheritance.

St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesian Christians says, “In [God the Father] we have redemption through [Jesus’] blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which [the Father] lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ [Jesus] as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth.”[4] Today you feel the grief of physical separation from Elmer, as Darren said earlier it's strange to think we can't just go over to the Pioneer Village care home and give him a hug, but here we see that in Christ Jesus, by faith, we are united in Christ Jesus with Elmer and with all the faithfully departed and with each other because God in Christ Jesus desires to unite all things in Jesus, things in heaven and things on earth. Notice too how St. Paul tell us that we have this in a now, not yet, kind of way when he continues to say to you that, “In [Jesus] we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of His glory. In [Jesus] you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory.”[5]

By the love of God, in Christ Jesus, Elmer has acquired this as a gift. A gift more precious than any you will find under any tree but the cross. The gift is not for Elmer alone but for you and yours as well. Dear ones, “By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.”[6] “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at The Day of Jesus Christ.”[7]

So today, and tomorrow and through the years to come remember Elmer’s life and remember also what Jesus says, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Yes Jesus is The Life, and in Jesus Elmer’s life continues with every trouble washed away, with every hardship great or small passed away, a life in Christ Jesus which shines in glory everlasting, in the company of the saints in light, a life full of joy and happiness, smiles, family and fun and laughter. 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.

[1] John 10:11
[2] Psalm 23:4
[3] Matthew 11:28
[4] Ephesians 1:7–10
[5] Ephesians 1:11–14
[6] 2 Timothy 1:14
[7] Philippians 1:6