Great things to come - Romans 8; Psalm 23 / June 17th, 2022 / Della McAvena Funeral Service Sermon
Text: Psalm 23; Romans 8
Theme: “Great things to come”
Intr – In life we are usually invited to aim at big things. To dream big, to make big changes, to exceed greatly expectations of people. There’s nothing wrong per se in those things, but ‘big” and “great” are certainly words that come along when we hear about pursuing purpose and happiness in life.
Now, I’ve learned something quite opposite to that talking with the family during the week about Della’s life. One of the phrases that stood out to me when hearing about her life was: The smallest things in life made her greatly happy.
With that in mind, I read Psalm 23 in a different light. I thought of this life approach and how the smallest things in that Psalm talk to us about the Great Joy and Purpose we have in our Good Shepherd. The green pastures; a brook of still waters; a staff and a rod; oil to anoint the head; an overflowing cup. These are small items or references that bring a world of meaning, joy and blessings. They point to the great deeds of the Good Shepherd tending for His Sheep, saving and leading them, providing for them, comforting them. For example: the staff and the rod, two considerable small pieces, but of great value in the hands of the Good Shepherd. My head is anointed with that little portion of oil, but which gives me great assurance that we were called to faith and to God’s family. A small overflowing cup assures me that my life is superabundant of God’s good gifts.
Della was baptized and confirmed in the Christian faith, so she belonged to the Good Shepherd. Being a Christian, especially a Lutheran Christian here are other things that seem small but in which I’m sure Della found, and all Christians find, great joy, purpose, life. Baptism: Just three sprinkles of water which making a great difference between death eternal and life eternal. Holy Communion: a small host and a tiny sip of wine which bring the immense, unfathomable gift of forgiveness in body and blood, which has the promise of life attached to it. The Word of God, which may seem sometimes just like a small book compared to other bigger and greater books in the world, but which conveys the Great message of love in Christ, the great news of Christ resurrection as the guarantee of our resurrection in Him. He lives, we will live also, body and soul. It comes to my mind Della’s work in our congregation too, in the late 70’s early 80’s as our Church secretary. I’m pretty sure she had lots of those small things to do as every office work has. But she was contributing to the great work of the Church, with all other Christians at Mount Olive, in bringing Christ, the Way the Truth and the Life to many hearts and families, big or small. The smallest we do as Christians end up bringing great purpose and joy to many lives.
Life in this world is not easy though, especially living the grief and sorrow of losing a loved one. The burden may become big, immense, leaving us wondering if we will be able to carry on. Here I would think then of Romans 8, our epistle for today. It talks about big things: death and life, angels and rulers, things present and things to come, powers, height and depth… The Apostle Paul is using big measures to speak to us about one great reality: none of these things, actually nothing else in all creation, whether big or small, can ever separate us from the love of God, that is ours in Christ Jesus; a small Bible passage which a world of content, hope and comfort. As you walk in life living with the absence of your loved one, know that these words apply to you also by faith in Christ. Nothing in your life, big or small, immense or tiny, can ever separate you from this love.
Cc – Big joy, big purpose. This is what our tiny hearts receive from our Big, Great Shepherd. Faith in Jesus assures us when the big Day comes, the last day of this Earth, that we will all be reunited, Della, family, friends, all those in Christ and with Christ. Great this are yet to come. On that day, the biggest things will make us greatly happy. Forever.
Leonard McAvena's (Della's husband) funeral sermon: Ecclesiastes 3:12–14 Sept 15th 2018 / God Given Work & God’s Work