Funeral Sermon For Philip Carl Hassman / Thursday March 9th - 2017
Funeral Sermon for Philip Carl Hassman: Thursday March 9th, 2017 at Mount Olive Lutheran Church by Pr. Ted A. Giese, Regina Saskatchewan - John 14:1-7
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. When Jesus says to His disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you” what does He mean? What does this promise mean for Philip who we remember today, what does it mean for you?
Jesus says, “In My Father's house are many rooms.” This is the place in Scripture where people turn to find the promise of a mansion in heaven. Now Jesus doesn’t say mansion: He says He’s going to prepare a place for you in His Father’s house. A House is a physical thing, a real place. Houses are made of wood and stone, and glass … at least the sort of houses we have today are made of these things. The point being that it’s a physical place you can touch and feel and experience, not some kind of ghostly spirit realm or some sort of hazy world of memory and thought and pure emotion.
That night, with the Supper ended, as Jesus and the disciples were about to embark out into the dark to walk to the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives, Jesus was telling them that what He was about to do, what was about to happen to Him – His arrest, His crucifixion, His suffering and death upon the cross – would result in a concrete physical conclusion. There was nothing symbolic about it. His death would be a real flesh and blood death, and then three days later His resurrection from the dead would be a real flesh and blood resurrection. This also means that Philip’s resurrection on The Last Day will be a real flesh and blood resurrection from the dead. And when that happens, Philip will need a physical home in which to hang his hat, a real physical house within which to live. This will be no symbolic place in Jesus’ Father’s house.
I’m pointing this out, in this way, because we all have a tendency to spiritualize death, there is a temptation to do this because we don’t want to confront or deal with the physical nature of it. When we fall into this temptation we steal away from the promises of God of their physical, concrete joys and hopes. In the Old Testament, in Isaiah 25, we have a great promise of what life in the resurrection will be like. Isaiah says, “On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.” You can’t have a promise like this without stockyards, and I bet there will also even be a little brandy at that table too. God is promising real food, a fine feast for our resurrected bodies. This is all part of the place Jesus in the Gospel of John is promising to go to prepare for Philip and for you.
Immediately after talking about the feast of rich food, the Lord through Isaiah says that, “He will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. [That] He will swallow up death forever;” and that’s what Jesus did at the cross with His death and that’s what will happen on The Last Day when all humanity is raised from the dead. For Philip, for all those who died with their faith in Christ Jesus there will be no more death only life, eternal and prefect life in Christ Jesus, with the Holy Spirit, in the Father’s House and on That Day Isaiah says, “the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces.”
In the Book of Revelation at the end of the Bible we hear a similar promise about the Resurrection which is to come on The Last Day when Saint John says, “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 [That’s Jesus, by the way … He] said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” On That Day Philip will be made new, his hearing, his health, his eyesight every part of him. He will be able to pick up a saxophone and play perfect polka music, even the notes he plays will be made new. His wife Elsie will be made new, this promise was for her too and it is for you - they will be together - as we all will be together in Christ on That Day, all we who die with or faith in Christ Jesus.
Even as I say this there is a finality to a day like today. We see Philip’s body in the casket and later some of us will see this casket lowered into the earth and it will be hard to think of The Last Day. Saint John who recorded our Lord Jesus’ words, the ones we hear in our Gospel Reading today was there when Jesus said them that night, and the next day John was there at the cross when Jesus was dying. John was there at the foot of the cross with Jesus’ mother Mary when Jesus died, he would have looked up and seen a truly dead Jesus and without a doubt that would have had the same finality to it that we experience as we look at Philip’s dead body today. Jesus was not mostly dead, He was truly dead, He was most certainly dead. And on that first Easter when Jesus came to the disciples in the upper room, the same room where He’d said “I go to prepare a place for you,” He did not stand there before John and the rest of the disciples as a ghost or spirit. No, He was not mostly alive, He was truly alive, He was most certainly alive.
John tells us that Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, [Jesus] showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.” Thomas, one of the other disciples, was missing that day and eight days later Jesus came to them again and Saint John records how Jesus likewise said, “Peace be with you.” Then [Jesus] said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!” On The Last Day you will be able to put out your hand and touch Philip and he will be able to put out his hand and touch you. This is promised to you in Christ Jesus. It is yours because of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead; you like Philip can build your hope on this.
Now unlike Saint John who was with Jesus when Jesus died, you likely were not there with Philip when he died. Set aside any worry about not having said a goodbye in the way that you would have liked. Set it aside because when you, in Christ, meet Phil again you will be able to say a hello that will mean a lot more than any goodbye. There will be time for the joys of life; you will have an eternity of time. In the Hymn Amazing Grace we sing, “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, Bright shining as the sun, We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise Than when we’d first begun.” You’ll have no less days to spend together in the happy reunion with all those who have gone on ahead in the faith, no less days to play cribbage, no less day to make great music together, no less days to eat great meals and have the finest of brandy: no less days than when you’d first begun … and maybe after that feast there might even be a Dixie cup of ice-cream.
Today Philip is at rest. His Spirit, His Soul is tucked away in Christ like one who is asleep; Let me leave you now with these words from Saint Paul, from 1 Thessalonians, as you wait for your own death in Christ, for the day you will fall asleep in Him, as you wait for The Last Day and the Resurrection of the dead in Christ Jesus. Saint Paul says, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep.” Philip is with Jesus now, Jesus made this promise Philip, to guys like Saint John and to you and to me, when He said “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.” Therefore take heart and let your heart not be troubled, believe in God, Believe also in Jesus, His one and only Son, who is “the Way, and the Truth, and the Life,” Jesus who is your one and only way to your heavenly home, to the house of the Father, the House with many rooms. 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.
 Revelation 21:3-5
 John 20:19-20
 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14