Funeral Sermon For Kim MacLeod / Wednesday October 21st 2015
Funeral Sermon for Kimberley MacLeod, October 21st 2015 - Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / (James 1:19-27 ESV)
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
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. You'll have noticed that some of the readings today aren't the ones you normally hear at a funeral. Many, many funerals will have Psalm 23, but Psalm 23 isn't one of our readings today. Today Kim had some other Scriptural passages that she wanted to share with you because as Saint Paul says, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." Which basically means all Scripture is valuable and there is much to be learned from it.
Kim as you know is a very organized and prepared person and while she was prepared for her death she knew that not everyone would be prepared when her death finally came. For this reason she chose passages from the Bible that will serve you as advice because to be prepared is to have listened well and taken in what is needed to face the day. And because Kim is a deep thinker she knew that nearly all of you are not actually preparing right now for your own death, what you're daily preparing for right now is life and how to live it. Yes there is grief fear, anger, sadness but all of this is coming at you as you live your life, so the advice she's chosen for you is focused on living life today as a Christian and having that life to the full.
The epistle of Saint James, where we get the second of our readings today, can come across as harsh because it's so direct, so pragmatic, and practical. In chapter one we hear the first bit of advice that Kim wants you to think about, "let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." Death makes us angry - because whenever a good father or in this case a good mother dies they die too soon. Whenever a good friend, sister, teacher, godmother dies they die too soon. Too soon for us. Whether they are 80, 60, 40, or 20 years old our anger is kindled and threatens to burst into flame and consume us from the inside out, when they die. James advises you to be slow to anger, to put it off, to put it off in favour of hearing God's Word; In fact be slow to speak about it too - rather listen to what God's Word provides in your time of distress.
What did Kim love to hear about? She loved to hear about the resurrection of the body - Jesus' resurrection, His resurrection that promised her own resurrection on The Last Day. Saint Paul explains that the resurrected Jesus, "will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself." Kim loved to hear this - it is a promise of a body free from Cancer - body, mind and soul free from every trouble - made to be like Jesus' glorious body.
Kim loved to hear how in His resurrection from the dead Jesus Christ defeated death, Saint Peter in the Book of Acts explained that, "God raised [Jesus] up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for [Jesus] to be held by it." Saint Paul explains that, "if we have been united with [Jesus] in a death like His (through our Baptism into Him), we shall certainly be united with [Jesus] in a resurrection like His." Paul goes on to say, "Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him." This touches on what Jesus said in our Gospel today, "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 where Jesus is "death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Listen quickly, hear this: Christ is risen from the dead and in Christ Jesus Kim is now part of the promise of the resurrection of the dead, she is now part of the promise of that happy reunion that takes place for all those who depart with their faith in Jesus. Her life now is in Christ Jesus, just as it was before her death.
Saint James says, put off all the trouble that the world will tempt you with and, "receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls." Receive what Jesus says, what His apostles Peter and Paul say, receive the advice Scripture gives like a gift given in a time of need, don't be someone, "who no longer [knows] how to take advice." Psalm 34 says, "The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." Psalm 147 says, "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Your heart is broken, the Lord is not far away, He is near binding up your wounds with His Word and with His Holy things - With the Sacrament of Baptism, with the Sacrament of the Altar - the Lord's Supper.
Chapter one of the Epistle of James continues to say, "be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like." Being a doer of the Word starts with being a hearer of the Word, as Saint Paul says, "faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ." Everything starts with hearing - and from there it is as they say "a leap of faith" to move from hearing to doing. “Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near," be where you can hear Him, attend church, read Scripture, call upon Him in prayer .... being a doers of the Word of God starts there.
While being a doer of the Word is not always easy, it certainly comes with its share of stresses and challenges, Kim found a lasting joy, true enjoyment, in the work that God gave her to do - work that kept her occupied with joy in her heart, it was all a gift from God. A gift which she passed along to others: Sunday School, VBS, quilting projects, bookkeeping and not just the things she did here around Mount Olive, her genealogy work and accounting and most importantly being a stay at home mom and wife. She would be extraordinarily uncomfortable hearing me say this because it was never about being recognized by others, she simply did what she was given to do and in the doing of the Word she knew who she was, she knew she was a Christian - at church, at home, and in the community. This is who Jesus made her to be in her Baptism. You can have this peace, the peace she had in Christ, you can have this lasting joy, this true enjoyment too. A peace, joy, hope, faith, a love that came from trusting that Jesus forgave her where she failed at life, where she sinned, and that His love is triumphant, His love for her trumped Cancer, trumps death and held her up, holds her up through it all, and she is now held firmly in that same love of God.
The Gospel reading we heard from the Gospel of Saint John chapter 14 was from the Thursday before the day we call Good Friday, the day Jesus died on the cross. Not long after Jesus said to His disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me," they ran away, they ran away in fear as Jesus was being arrested and tried and crucified, only a handful of those closest to Him were there with Him at the foot of the cross when He died. Three days later when He was risen from the dead, on that first Easter Sunday, Jesus came to His disciples: He came to them even though the doors were locking in fear and they were hiding from the world, He came to them and the first thing He said to them was, “Peace be with you.” Today Jesus says "Peace," "Peace be to you," Kim is with Christ Jesus and Jesus is with you. "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted," and He "binds up their wounds."
Listen quickly, hear this: We are not as far away from each other as the World says, in Christ Jesus we are one - joined together today, tomorrow, forever in Him. In humility receive the "implanted Word, which is able to save your souls." Listen and hear, "faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love," Jesus' love for Kim, Jesus' love for you. 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.
 2 Timothy 3:16
 Philippians 3:21
 Acts 2:24
 Romans 6:5
 Romans 6:8-9
 John 14:2-3
 Revelation 21:4
 Ecclesiastes 4:13, "Better was a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer knew how to take advice."
 Psalm 34:18
 Psalm 147:3
 Romans 10:17
 Isaiah 55:6
 Ecclesiastes 5:18-20, "Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God. For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart."
 John 14:1
 John 20:19
 Matthew 28:20 "behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
 1 Corinthians 13:13