Funeral Sermon, Emma Becker/ Wednesday, July 4th 2018
Text: John 14.1-7; Psalm 23
Theme: He knows us by our name.
Intr – Let me open my sermon with a little bit of humour – since I learned from the family that Emma was not foreign to joking and laughing. As she passed away last Friday, and was taken to heaven through faith in Christ are we sure God called Emma by her name upon arrival? Or did He mix her name up with one of her sisters?
The reason I ask this is that I also learned from the family that Emma was always well humoured about the fact that people would constantly mix the five sisters up. Many people would not know after chatting with her if they talked to Emma or to one ot the others. It was a constant reason for her to joke about this recurrent fact.
But I will answer this question here. No, God did not mix her up. He called her by her name, He knows perfectly who she his because He is the One who created her, and the One who gave her faith in the waters of the Holy Baptism.
As obvious as it may sound, it needs to be reaffirmed; re-stated. In the world we live we may sometimes feel like we are just another number among millions. We may be mistaken or forgotten so many times in so many different situations in life. We are so immersed in a massive bulk of people that we might sometimes feel lost, lonely, left behind, wondering if God is still there somewhere, or if He just did lose track of us in this immense sea of people.
He did not. Jesus in the Gospel today assures us we have a place with Him in Heaven. I would dare to say it is a room with our name in it, no other. I’m sure Emma’s name hangs on the door of that heavenly place right now. By faith, each name is etched on the palm of God’s hands, and it will be in that special place in Heaven He prepared for us as well. How do we know that? We know it because Emma received faith in Jesus as a gift; because all Christians have received it. This place is waiting for her and all of us as we live a life sustained by the Holy Spirit in our Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ, “the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”, as we heard from John 14. Today is the day for us all to be reminded that there is a place prepared also for us, with our name on it, where we will be able to come together as family, meeting each other again.
Christ is the Way to this special place. He is the Truth about the special place prepared for us in Heaven, that place where we will have Life eternal. A place that He prepared with the shedding of His own blood so that we may rest assured in His promise of taking us home when our last hour comes.
While we still walk through this valley of tears though, with all the problems and sorrows, and especially mourning the loss of a loved one and learning how to live with their absence, it is also good to hear that the same Father who takes us as his Children is also our Good Shepherd who provides us with still waters and green pastures, as Psalm 23 lets us know. In this Psalm, we learn many special things for our life in faith under the cross. “The Lord is my shepherd.”, which means that by faith we are His sheep. We belong to him. The Psalm talks about the waters and pastures the Shepherd provides, how He anoints our head with oil, how He prepares a table with an overflowing cup. He cares about us. Who doesn’t like to receive care and comfort from a loving hand? Also, in these rough and complicated times we live, with difficult situations to deal with, it is reassuring to hear Psalm 23 promising us that “Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life”. We are reminded that in Christ we have God’s promises to our hearts. And life, when we learn that we will live in the house of the Lord forever. He knows us by our name. He calls us by our name. He walks with us all the way long, knowing exactly who we are.
Cc – Emma is not going to be mixed up by anyone here anymore. She is now with the Lord. The Lord that never mixed her up not a single day. The Saviour that died on the cross so that our names could be written in the book of life in order, by His Grace, to never be erased. In Him, we will be reunited in heaven, to meet again our loved ones, and call them by their name. Amen.