Blog / Book of the Month / Funeral Sermon For Fern Siurko / Thursday November 2nd 2017

Funeral Sermon For Fern Siurko / Thursday November 2nd 2017

Funeral Sermon For Fern Siurko / Thursday November 2nd 2017

Funeral Sermon for Fern Siurko / Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Thursday November 2nd 2017: Commemoration of the Faithfully Departed / John 14:1-7 "The Promise of 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. Yesterday, Nov. 1st was All Saints Day and today Nov. 2nd is the day the church sets aside for the commemoration of the faithfully departed. It is a fitting day to remember the life of Fern and it is a fitting day to contemplate the promises of God to her in Christ Jesus her saviour.

Tuesday night on the Eve of All Saints Day we had a Service here at the Church and our guest preacher, Rev. Daryl Solie told us of a comment made by the Reformer Rev. Dr. Martin Luther at the death of his 14 year old daughter Magdalena Luther who had died in his arms at home following a brief and painful illness in the year 1542, Luther after Magdalena was laid to rest said of his daughter, “You will rise and shine like the stars and the sun, how strange it is to know that she is at peace and all is well and yet to be so sorrowful.” These beautiful words sum up what we feel on a day like today. “[Fern] will rise and shine like the stars and the sun, how strange it is to know that she is at peace and all is well, and yet to be so sorrowful.” 

Knowing a thing doesn’t always immediately impact how you feel about a thing. In his letter to the early Christians of Rome Saint Paul wrote, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord,”[1] and yet knowing this doesn’t immediately provide comfort. Death comes for us all and it grabs hold of us but in Christ Fern has promises that are greater than death, you likewise have promises that are greater than death. Jesus, as death is working to swallow us whole, comes with His salvation won for you at the cross of Good Friday and He pulls us from the clutches of death that we would be with Him. This is what Jesus promises us in the Gospel of John when He says, “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.” 

At the cross death broke its jaw, death lost its teeth, death sunk its stinger in Christ Jesus and now as St. Paul says death in Christ has lost its sting. Jesus at the Cross in His crucifixion, and at the empty tomb of Easter morning, won the victory over Sin, Death and the Grave. The Christian with faith in Christ, who is “the Way, and the Truth, and the Life,” as St. John says in his Gospel, comes to God the Father in Christ – Jesus says that there is no other way to God the Father but by Him. And He, with His innocent blood shed for you, with His death in your place, has made that Way to His Father for you, has prepared that Way for you and in His preparations He has prepared for you a place in His Fathers house. And now you can trust that Fern is in the hands of God, and you can take comfort in the fact that she, in her life, confessed her faith in this very same Jesus; she did so with the words of the Apostles and Nicene Creeds: Simple teachings about God the Father, about Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit drawn from Holy Scripture used by the Christian to confess the faith they have in the Triune God. This is important to know and will give you comfort in times to come mainly because St. Paul speaks about the importance of making a public confession of faith in Christ Jesus as a Christian, again writing to the early Roman Christians, Paul plainly says, ““The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”[2] Fern made this her public confession of faith right here in this place at Mount Olive these past five years.

Even if you have faith in Christ, as a Christian, you may have worries about death, just as you have worries about anything you have never done before. Faith is not courage or fearlessness. Even now in your grief you, who have faith in Christ, may have feelings that seem to run contrary to faith itself. It is at such times that it is good to know, good to remember that faith too is a gift of God to you. A gift that Fern received from the Holy Spirit first at her baptism, a gift that the Holy Spirit continued to give, continued to nurture throughout her whole life unto Life Everlasting. And the truest gifts are gifts received not because we deserve them but out of love, this is why St. Paul writes the early Christians of Ephesus saying, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” He then caps this off by saying, “For we are [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”[3] This gift of faith is part and parcel of “the immeasurable riches of [God’s] grace [which] in kindness [He has shown] toward us, [towards you, towards Fern] in Christ Jesus [His Son].”[4]

When you hear the word saint, remember that sometimes it is used for people who perform miracles, people who heal the sick, people who have their picture immortalized in stain glass, however the word is not only for them it is for all of us who are Christians. Everyone who lives and dies with their faith in Christ is one of His saints. Fern is one of His saints. And as we often quote here at Mount Olive, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.”[5] These words are from Psalm 116. You may however ask: “Why are we precious in the sight of the Lord?” Well we are precious because we are redeemed; and “why are we redeemed?” We are redeemed because Christ has redeemed us with His blood; and “for what purpose are we redeemed?” We as Christians are redeemed to Life Everlasting that we might live in Him; Fern is redeemed to Life Everlasting, to the blessed resurrection in Christ Jesus on The Last Day. He has done as He promised, in the hour of her death Jesus has come and taken Fern to Himself so that where He is she may be also as one redeemed by Christ the crucified.

In your bulletin there is a portion of a poem from a poem called The Dash, in it the poem highlight the dash between a person’s birth date (which Fern was a little sensitive about) and their date of death saying, “For it matters not how much we own; The cars, the house, the cash, What matters is how we live and love. And how we spend our dash.” Fern now, in Christ, is living life in a new way. Have you heard of this other bit of punctuation it’s not a dash it’s something different, you may not know it by its technical name but you do know what it is, it’s called an ellipsis, it’s the three dots … it’s used in a sentence to mark the omission of something. Think of it like this, in death Fern is hidden from our sight, but ask yourself where she is hidden away? Remember an ellipsis is also used in a sentence not as the end of a sentence. So I’m here today to tell you that Fern has her birthday, she had a rich and beautiful dash, and now she has the date of her death, she has all these things in Christ Jesus and now after that she has an ellipsis … because her life is not over. The sentence of her life is not over. She lives in Christ, hidden away in Him until His revealing and on the day of His revealing, The Last Day,[6] she will have a new birthday, a bodily resurrection into the new heavens and the new earth and the dash that follows after that new birthday will stretch on forever and ever; a richer and more beautiful dash than any of us can even begin to imagine; spent in heaven, spent in Christ Jesus. This is Jesus’ promise to Fern made to her and you in the Gospel of John; this is Jesus’ promise to all His saints a room in His Father’s House. Today we can say, “[Fern] You will rise and shine like the stars and the sun, how strange it is to know that she is at peace and all is well and yet to be so sorrowful.” On That Day, The Last Day we need not say such words on That Day there will be no sorrow, no cancer, no death, no pain, no sadness,[7] we with faith in Christ will instead weep for joy, with complete and perfect happiness to be reunited together in Christ Jesus, to live our lives together in Him forever and ever. 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] Romans 8:38-39
[2] Romans 10:8-10
[3] Ephesians 2:8-10
[4] Ephesians 2:7
[5] Psalm 116:15
[6] Colossians 3:3-4, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”
[7] Revelation 21:1-5, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.””