Funeral Sermon For Helen Harlos / Friday November 14th 2014
Helen Edith Harlos Funeral Sermon / Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Revelation 21:1-6
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.” Also He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment."
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. Who is the one who was seated on the throne? Who is this one from the Revelation of St. John? He who was seated on the throne is Jesus. The same Jesus who the virgin Mary carried in her womb, the same Jesus who had as a crib a feeding trough meant for livestock, Jesus who drew to Himself hard labouring fishermen, Jesus who would sit down and eat with undesirable tax collectors and untouchable prostitutes, Jesus who was nailed to the cross even though He was innocent of all crimes - innocent of any evil, Jesus who on the third day was risen from the dead and then forty days after that was ascended into heaven, this is the one seated on the throne. This is the one who Helen believed in, whom she trusted, and in whom she had faith.
The same St. John who wrote the book of Revelation, a book which in many ways delves into the future also wrote about the past, in fact St. John wrote about a time before the past, when he wrote, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men." Today you heard Jesus tell His disciples, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." Jesus also says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” St. John in the Gospel of John continues on to say this about the Word of God, he says, "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."
This Word made flesh is the one who sits on the throne in heaven, this Jesus is the incarnate Word of God, who became flesh for a reason, for a purpose: What was that purpose, what is that purpose? Today you hear Jesus say, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end." You hear Jesus say, "I am making all things new.” You hear Him say, “It is done!" You hear Him say, "To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment." In the spoken Word of God you hear today, this same Jesus comes to you, He is no illusion, He is no fabrication, He is no dream, He has entered into the wheel of our suffering and with His death and resurrection He has broken the wheel of suffering and death - He is Life. This is the one who Helen believed in, whom she trusted, and in whom she had faith.
Jesus, the beginning and the end, says, "I am making all things new.” A member of the congregation here at Mount Olive who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer asked me a question. They were worried about the possibility of not being able to focus on Jesus at the moment of death, they'd hoped to be able to be in prayer at that moment, to be in a deep state of meditation and contemplation, they asked, "What if I'm not thinking of Christ Jesus at the moment of my death." The fear in the question was that this could somehow impact the outcome of their death and future life in Christ Jesus. I reassured them that it's not about intellectual ascent, it's not about making a discussion, it's not about being conscience at that moment: faith is a gift - it is not something you do. In fact the thing to remember is that for the Christian it is not about a person's ability to think clearly about Christ Jesus at the moment of death, rather it's Jesus that's clearly thinking of you. He remembers HIs promises even if you are unable to remember them.
Helen in the last while was suffering from dementia, her capacity to reason everything out, to grasp everything that was going on around her was impaired. This has no impact on the promises of Jesus for Helen. Whether a person has dementia or cancer or they fall asleep in Christ Jesus in the midst of a sudden accident makes no matter, the promise of Jesus is that He is "making all things new." This promise is for Helen and it's for you. In the resurrection of the dead the dementia Helen suffered will be wiped away, it will pass away, and she will be made new. She will be transformed, her lowly body will be transformed to be like Jesus' glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself. All Helen's feistiness and determination will be made perfect, her spirit of resilience and loyalty will be made perfect. This perfection comes as Jesus wipes away every tear from Helen's eyes, as she comes to know that there is no mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore for her, for in Christ Jesus these former things have passed away. In Christ Jesus the wheel of suffering and death is broken and in Christ Jesus it is made new into a wheel of eternal joy and eternal life. In Christ Jesus Helen is made new: Her mind, her body, her soul will be made new. This is the one who Helen believed in, whom she trusted, and in whom she had faith.
Jesus, the beginning and the end, says, “It is done!" Upon the cross as Jesus was about to bow His head and give up His spirit, as Jesus was about to die, He said “It is finished.” What was it that was finished? Was it only His earthly life? or was it more? At that moment all your sin was finished, it was atoned for by His innocent shed blood, by His imminent death. The temptations of life, and the tempter that torments humanity was finished too, crushed under the nail pierced feet of Jesus. Everything was done - Jesus had walked the valley of the shadow of death for Helen, for you, for me, so that when I, when you, face death He is there to comfort you and I, to guide us, to lead us, to bring us safely to Himself so that we will, "dwell in the house of the LORD forever." Jesus has done this, it is finished.
The great and perfect faithfulness of Jesus in the face of death is for you just as it was for Helen. This is a gift, it is Jesus for you. Regardless of the manner in which the Christian dies they have the promise of the Lord, that He will shepherd the Christian into their rest. Psalm 116 says, "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints." Jesus is the one who makes the Christian into a saint, in Baptism they are clothed with the perfection of Jesus before the eyes of God. And while in this life their faults and sins are all too obvious, in Christ the Christian is transformed, made perfect, and in the end, at their death when Jesus wipes away every last trace of their sin once for all, on that day the one who hung upon the cross says “It is finished,” the same one who sits upon the throne says, “It is done!" This is the one who Helen believed in, whom she trusted, and in whom she had faith.
Jesus, the beginning and the end, says, "To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment." Eternal life is a gift given without our payment. It is a precious gift that Helen could not afford - what money could she offer for it, could she offer enough good works and good deeds to barter for it? The water of Life cost Jesus dearly in His death but He doesn't make you pay to have it. It is His to give and He gives it freely and generously: He gives it in the Word of God, in Holy Baptism, in Holy Communion, in forgiveness, Helen's cup overflowed, it overflows with Jesus' water of Life. St. Paul tells us that "by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God," "OK," you say, "It's a gift ... where do I get it? How do I receive it?" Holy Scripture encourages us with these words, "faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." Those who have ear to hear let them hear, and be comforted by these words. Today Jesus comes to you and generously pours Himself over you, today your cup overflows with grace. This Jesus who gives of Himself without asking for payment in exchange for His salvation, This is the one who Helen believed in, whom she trusted, and in whom she had faith.
Is the water of life poured out by Jesus for me? or is it only for Helen? Jesus says this of Himself in the Gospel of John, He say, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." Jesus is that Son. This same Jesus gives eternal life, and they that have it will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of His hand, For He is the one "who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. The Lord says to you today,
For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but My steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and My covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
[So] says the LORD, who has compassion on you.
This is the one who Helen believed in, whom she trusted, and in whom she had faith. Jesus says "Believe in God believe also in Me," trust Him, have faith in the one who is seated on the throne, the one who is making all things new including Helen. 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.
 John 1:1-4
 John 14:6
 John 8:12
 John 1:14
 Philippians 3:21
 John 19:30
 Psalm 23:6
 Psalm 116:15
 Ephesians 2:8
 Romans 10:17
 John 3:16
 John 10:28
 Revelation 3:7 (This verse was included in Helen's Confirmation of Baptism Booklet)
 Isaiah 54:10 (This passage was included in Helen's Confirmation of Baptism Booklet)