More / Book of the Month / Margaret Neu Funeral Sermon - Matthew 6:7–15 May 1st 2020 / Jesus Teaches us to Pray

Margaret Neu Funeral Sermon - Matthew 6:7–15 May 1st 2020 / Jesus Teaches us to Pray

Margaret Neu Funeral Sermon - Matthew 6:7–15 May 1st 2020 / Jesus Teaches us to Pray

Funeral Sermon for Margaret Neu - Graveside Service at the Southey Cemetery / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Friday May 1st 2020: Season of Easter / Matthew 6:7–15 "Jesus teaches us to pray"

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Pray then like this:

          “Our Father in heaven,

          hallowed be Your name.

          Your kingdom come,

          Your will be done,

                   on earth as it is in heaven.

          Give us this day our daily bread,

          and forgive us our debts,

                   as we also have forgiven our debtors.

          And lead us not into temptation,

                   but deliver us from evil.          

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

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. Margaret wasn’t interested in people spending much time talking about her at her funeral; she and Oswald were very private people. So I will simply say she liked things to be plain and not too fancy and you her children pointed out that the Lord’s Prayer was very important to her. It is our most cherished prayer because it was given to us by Jesus Himself. In the Gospel of Luke we are told that when “Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”[1] And that is when Jesus gave them the prayer that Margaret loved so dearly and held in such high regard.

Down through the years this account in the Gospel of Luke and the account in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 6 came together to be the prayer we will pray near the end of our graveside service this afternoon. It is our daily prayer as Christians and Martin Luther recommends we pray it morning noon and night in the Small Catechism which Margaret first studied before her confirmation of Baptism in 1936. As Lutherans we believe teach and confess some things about the Lord’s Prayer that are important to remember as we consider the death of a loved one.

First in the Third Petition where we pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” and we are ask consider “What does this mean?” we answer that, “The good and gracious will of God is done even without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also. How is God’s will done? God’s will is done when He breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, which do not want us to hallow God’s name or let His kingdom come; and when He strengthens and keeps us firm in His Word and faith until we die. This is His good and gracious will.” When a person dies a natural death they don’t know when it’s coming. This is true for the Christian also. Yes we may receive a diagnosis from a doctor or we might know because of a family history of health problems that this or that illness is more likely to contribute to our death but we don’t know when it will finally come. As Christians however we simply trust that God is leading us through it when it does come. And that the Holy Spirit is keeping us in firm in God’s Word and in faith. When we pray “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” we often only think of our daily needs, our daily bread and how events happen around us but this prayer is more than that we appeal to God’s will trusting that His will is to keep us His own and to bring us in The End into heaven to live with Him there. Pray this trusting that God is doing for you what He did for your mother. 

And in The Seventh Petition of the Lord’s Prayer “But deliver us from evil.” We might think of all sorts of thing that go bump in the night or dangers that might lurk around a dark corner or even an invisible virus threatening our heath and life but there is more to this part of the prayer that Jesus gives us than that alone so when we ask “What does this mean?” we answer that “We pray in this petition, in summary, that our Father in heaven would rescue us from every evil of body and soul, possessions and reputation, and finally, when our last hour comes, give us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven.” How often do we pray this prayer not thinking about the wonderful final promise found there that when our last hour comes God would give us a blessed end and take us to Himself, this is the promise Christ gives us in the Gospel of John chapter 14, “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.”[2]

“And you know the way to where I am going,” the disciples the night in before Jesus’ crucifixion may not have know the way but afterwards they knew where Jesus was going, through the valley of the shadow of death to the Cross of Good Friday, through death and the grave to eternal life risen from the dead that first Easter Morning and this is the same Jesus who both teaches us to pray this prayer as He did your mother and then comes to take us to Himself in our final hour as He did for your mother the day she died with her faith in Him. Cherish this precious gift of a prayer given by Jesus to her and to you, hold fast to the promises that you find there that are hers and are yours. Today is another day to learn it and inwardly digest it, to God be the glory. In Jesus’ name, 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.

[1] Luke 11:1
[2] John 14:1–4