Blog / Book of the Month / Funeral Sermon For Curtis Grudnitzki / Saturday October 7th 2017

Funeral Sermon For Curtis Grudnitzki / Saturday October 7th 2017

Funeral Sermon For Curtis Grudnitzki / Saturday October 7th 2017

Funeral Sermon for Curtis Grudnitzki / Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Saturday October 7th 2017: Season of Pentecost / Galatians 3:26-28 "Jesus is Your Camo"

In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

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. As soon as soldiers switched from muskets to rifles camo began to develop very quickly and I don’t think the men of World War I who worked to bring widespread use of camo to the troops imagined that it would eventually be used by outdoorsmen as they engaged in hunting and fishing or that it would become such a popular pattern for clothing of all kinds. You can buy camo for kids and babies; you can even by camo underwear. 

The purpose of camo is to camouflage a person or object, to hide and conceal the person or object underneath the camo pattern. Just as Curtis loved his bacon, Curtis loved his camo (and I see many of you, by request of the family, wearing camo today to honour Curtis). Even in Palliative care earlier this week the family at one point made sure that Curtis had his camo crocs on in the hospital bed. Today the funeral pall for Curtis’ urn is Willow’s small pink camo style baby blanket. A funeral Pall is used on urns and caskets as a symbol of Baptism and in Baptism we are clothed in Christ Jesus. When a person puts on Jesus in Baptism they are camouflaged in the perfect, faultless life death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus becomes their camo. Saint Paul, writing to the early Christians in Galatia says, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

But what does it mean to have put on Christ Jesus?

Putting on Christ is understood in two ways: According to the law and according to the Gospel.[1] According to the law putting on the Lord Jesus Christ is about imitating the example and the virtues of Jesus. Do and suffer what Jesus did and suffered.[2] “Christ [Jesus] suffered for us leaving us an example that we should follow in His steps.”[3] In Christ we see the height of patients, gentleness and love and an admirable moderation in all things. So in this way we Christians ought to put on Christ in order to imitate these virtues of Jesus. In this sense we can imitate other saints as well, for instance we look at Curtis and see his love for his wife Joelene, we look and see how much of a proud papa he was to little Willow and how he cared for her, and his wife, even while he himself was struggling with his own cancer, we see Curtis’ love for his family and friends and we remember what Scripture says when Saint John, in 1st John, says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”[4] So we look at Curtis and seeing his love for others we then desire to imitate that love, that love that reflects the love of God, the love of Jesus. Remember also what Saint Peter says, in 1 Peter, when he says, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”[5] There’s that camo imagery again, love is like camo, and God is love, God’s love in Christ camouflages our sins. This is why Saint John also says, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that [God] loved us and sent His Son [Jesus] to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” As Christians we work to accomplish this love for others when we put on Christ Jesus.

“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

You may be thinking to yourself, if I was struggling with cancer I don’t know if I, even as a Christian, would be able to consistently and steadfastly show the same sort of love towards others as Curtis did, and Curtis wasn’t even perfect like Christ Jesus, if I’m supposed to be imitating Jesus I’m sure I’d be a very poor imitation indeed. For I’m not as patient or as kind as Jesus and when Scripture says that, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things,”[6] I don’t know if I can imitate that. Take heart, and listen carefully to the other way to put on Christ.

The other way to put on Christ is according to the Gospel and this is not a matter of imitation but of the new birth and the new creation namely that I put on Christ Himself: that is I put on Jesus’ innocence, His righteousness, His wisdom and power, I put on His salvation and life, His very Spirit. Jesus is put on you in your baptism and baptism then it is not simply a camouflage made of an imitation of the righteousness of the law like a pattern made to imitate leaves and branches; it’s not just a striving to imitate the good done by Jesus. No in your baptism, in Curtis’ baptism, in little Willow’s baptism you, they and I were given Christ Jesus as a gift. Not an imitation of Jesus but rather Jesus Himself. God the Father by the working of the Holy Spirit has given Jesus to you as camo to cover all your faults and sins and imperfections. God has put Jesus on you as a gift to be your Justifier, so that we don’t have to justify ourselves before God based on our own works, He gives Jesus to you as your Life Giver, your Redeemer. This is what it means to put on Christ according to the Gospel. In this precious gift, you receive the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, peace, comfort and joy in the Holy Spirit; as God’s children baptised into Jesus you receive Salvation and life in Christ Himself.

Curtis on August 20th, the day of Willow’s baptism, acknowledged this gift of Christ for himself. It was as though Curtis said, ‘ok Jesus I see what you and the Holy Spirit did there when I was baptised, I see that I am camouflaged in Your blood, shed for me on the cross that first Good Friday. I’ve got my camo, I’ve got my Jesus, I’m ready for my death and for what comes next!’

But just because Curtis was spiritually ready for his death, doesn’t mean that he didn’t want to stay here with us longer, and it also doesn’t mean that you are ready for today. Death is a horrible thing. Death cuts us to the core, when a 34 year old man dies of cancer, or dies for any other reason it is a tragedy, it will make you angry and sad. It feels like a waste. You think why not me, why him? Here we are on the Thanksgiving long weekend and looking at Curtis’ death we might very well be hard pressed to be thankful this year, but let's not just look at his death. When you are angry, when you are legit piping hot angry, when you are sad, point all of that in the right direction. Be angry at death, angry at cancer, be sad about death. In the midst of your emotional response keep in mind that at the cross Jesus died: Curtis did not have a God who lived at arm’s length from him, Jesus got down into the trenches with us, with Curtis, Jesus died a flesh and blood death and in that death Jesus swallow up the covering that is cast over all peoples, Jesus, “swallow up death forever.”[7] And on The Last Day death will face it’s own death as we who are hidden away in Christ are revealed, as we are raised to eternal life. At the cross Jesus took away the finality of death that covered everyone and replaced it with Himself so that Curtis and you and I can put on Jesus. And because Jesus’ death was a flesh and blood death, and since we are baptised both into that death and also into Jesus’ Easter morning resurrection, which was a flesh and blood resurrection, that means that Curtis and you and I who believe in Jesus, who have our faith in Jesus, who in Baptism have put on Christ Jesus, will share in Jesus’ resurrection and our resurrection will be a flesh and blood resurrection.[8]

And what does that mean?

It means that right now Curtis is hidden away in Christ Jesus and on The Last Day Curtis and you and I, all those with the camo of Jesus covering over us, will walk on our own two feet into eternal life with a flesh and blood body made perfect to be like Jesus’ glorious body.[9] Curtis will see Jesus with his own two eyes, on That Day Curtis will be able to hug Willow and Joelene and be reunited with you. You will have your son, your little brother, your cousin, your friend back. You will be able to sit down and have a bacon “samich” together, you’ll be able to have a cold beer and cast a line and fish together because Jesus promises that in the end He will make all things new.[10] All things includes Curtis, in Christ Jesus Curtis is now cancer free and on That Day there will be no more cancer, on That Day God, “will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”[11]

We often say, “so and so has passed away,” but I’m here today to tell you that in Christ Jesus, Curtis has not passed away, Curtis’ memory, his love, his friendship has not passed away, it is his cancer that has passed away, Curtis in Christ Jesus has the gift of eternal life. You who are baptised into Jesus, you have this too, those of you who have not yet received this gift, this gift of Jesus is yours, come have what Curtis has. Be thankful for the gift, be thankful that his cancer has passed away, be thankful for all the day’s you’ve been given with Curtis so far and look towards That Happy Reunion and The Never-Ending Day that you will have with Curtis and all the faithful in heaven. In Christ Jesus, today is not “farewell,” today is “until we meet again.”

“In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one 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.


[1] Luther’s Works AE Vol 26, Lectures on Galatians 1535 Chapters 1 to 4, Concordia Publishing House 1963, Pg 352-353.
[2] Romans 13:14, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”
[3] 1 Peter 2:21
[4] 1 John 4:7-8
[5] 1 Peter 4:8
[6] 1 Corinthians 13:7
[7] Isaiah 25:7-8, “And He will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of His people He will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.”
[8] Romans 6:3-6
[9] Philippians 3:21
[10] Revelation 21:5, “And He who was seated on the throne [Jesus] said, “Behold, I am making all things new.””
[11] Revelation 21:4