Kenneth Mather Funeral Sermon - Romans 8 - January 4th, 2022 / No separation in Christ Jesus
Text: Romans 8
Theme: “No separation in Christ Jesus”
Intr – Dear family and friends, what is it that could separate Ken from the love for his family, especially children and grandchildren? I think your answer would be swift and precise: Nothing. From reading his obituary and talking with the family one learns that he loved his family and that he “absolutely adored” all his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and all the time he spent with them.
When death strikes though, the feeling we are left with is of separation. Ken is now separated from his beloved family and kids on this side of heaven. At this time we might wonder: what if separation would never have to happen? What if would be possible to be close to our loved ones, keeping the love exchange going on forever?
Well, that is actually possible. And not only possible but something very real. This is what a Christian Funeral Service is all about. We celebrate the life of the person we love that will leave that hole in our hearts and in our lives. But above all we celebrate Life, capital L. The Life we have in Christ, whose love gives us a life that never ends.
The reading of Romans for today tells us this clearly: “Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus”. Nothing, absolutely nothing in the entire Creation can interpose a barrier that cannot be overcome when it comes to being loved by God.
Ken experienced this is his life, as he was called to faith by the Holy Spirit and by the Word and Sacraments was sustained in that faith. He was loved by God and he loved his Lord and Saviour. When we think about why he would “always bear a smile, enjoy family and time together, and would be willing to help and to show love for family and friends,” as the comments from the family make it clear we know that those are fruits of the Christian faith. Our faith is active in love. It is God’s work in us and through us. And if we as frail human beings know that nothing can ever make the love we have for our loved ones end, talk about God’s love for his children. It is the Unending, Great and Eternal love.
Now, on a day of loss and mourning like today some words from St Paul seem a little odd to hear, as when he says: "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,” It seems the other way around when we have to face death and sorrow. When we sharpen our concept of good against God’s Word though, we learn that there is nothing better in life that to be in Him – that’s what the rest of the verse says: “for those who are called according to his purpose.” We were called to be His, so now everything works for our good, even losses, even difficulties, even death. The main reason for that is we know death doesn’t have the final say. Life does. Our life once started never ends; after death, after the Last Day comes eternity with Jesus. There can be no greater good than this. Definitely, everything works for good in Christ.
So even when the separation of death comes, it is temporary. When we depart this world connected to Christ by faith we already know we will see each other again. We will be reunited with God and our loved ones who went ahead of us in faith, to live forever with Christ in the New Earth and New Heavens. A place where grandpas and grandmas, kids and grandkids, friends and complete strangers will come together to worship the Lord and to live a perfect life of love, kindness and joy.
Cc – “He always would walk the extra-mile”, was one of the phrases I heard about Ken. Even when he wasn’t really into doing something for someone, he would still do it for the love of the people he loved.
Jesus in the Gethsemane asked the Father to pass from Him the Chalice of death if possible. It wasn’t and He went up to the Cross, walked the lengthiest extra mile ever for the love of all the people, so that we could have access to God’s love and become children of God. In this faith and in this hope, we can celebrate love. We can celebrate Life. For nothing in the entire world can ever and will ever separate us from the Love and Life we have in Christ.