More / Book of the Month / Mervin Raymond Gottfried Funeral Sermon - 1 Corinthians 15:50–58 August 17th 2022 / At Rest in Peace in Christ

Mervin Raymond Gottfried Funeral Sermon - 1 Corinthians 15:50–58 August 17th 2022 / At Rest in Peace in Christ

Mervin Raymond Gottfried Funeral Sermon - 1 Corinthians 15:50–58 August 17th 2022 / At Rest in Peace in Christ

Mervin Raymond Gottfried Grave Side Service Sermon / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Wednesday August 17th 2022: Season of Pentecost / 1 Corinthians 15:50–58 "At Rest in Peace in Christ"

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

          “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

           “O death, where is your victory?

                    O death, where is your sting?”

          The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

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. Rest in Peace: in the past people would put the acronym for this on gravestones R.I.P (Rest. In. Peace) because death for the Christian is described by St. Paul as sleep; we confess this because Jesus’ Good Friday death and Easter Sunday Morning resurrection have taken the sting out of death, Jesus has clutched victory out of the jaws of defeat, He has defanged the serpent and it’s poisonous bite. And so Saint Paul says, “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep,” meaning that when The End comes some of us will be alive to see it, the rest of those who died with their faith in Christ Jesus like Mervin will be at rest in Christ Jesus when that hour comes, when we who are left are transformed in the twinkling of an eye. Like an almighty alarm clock the bodies of the dead will wake up and will arise when the last trumpet is blown and Mervin who had been at rest, whether that rest was short or long, will get up and walk into his eternal reward.

In the mean time Mervin’s spirit, his soul will be at rest in peace with Jesus, hidden away in Jesus until the day of his bodies awakening. This is what Saint Paul teaches in Colossians when he writes, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”[1] When you lay in bed at night asleep you cannot see what is happening in the room around you and if you are a sound sleeper you will not be awakened by a noise in the night and so it is for the Christian who in death has departed from this life and in now hidden away with Christ in God, the troubles of the night, the troubles of the day do not disturb their rest in Christ Jesus. This, dear ones, is not ‘soul sleep’ for the spirit the soul is alive in Christ; this is the sleep of the body and for body and soul it is all rest and peace in Christ.

Now you may think to yourself, you may say to yourself, ‘I am tired, I need rest too, would that I had rest in this life like the rest Mervin has now.’ Saint Paul in his letter to the Philippian Christians considering this wrote “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labour for me. [He said this even while his] desire [was] to depart and be with Christ, for [Saint Paul understood this blessed rest that Marvin now enjoys, yet he ultimately and firmly declared] to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.”[2] And so it is for us. We live to be of service to each other, to care for each other in this life, as Mervin did for his wife Margaret and for you and as you did for them in their times of need. Sometimes we are the one who helps, sometimes we are the ones who are being helped and in both cases the baptised Christian is even now in this life hidden away in Christ Jesus.  

Being hidden away in Christ from the grip of death is wonderful news and yet we may ask, “Where then do we find our rest in this life, where do I find it in advance of my bodies sleep in Christ?” We find this rest in reading and studying God’s Word, in hearing sermons and teaching from faithful pastors, in our daily prayers, in trusting the nature and promises of our baptism, in receiving forgiveness for our sins in Holy Communion, in holding fast to the faith that God has given us by the working of His Holy Spirit, in the life of the church gathered together around each other and God’s Word. All of these things teach us how to live a life of rest and contentment in this life, this is why we sing in verse three of the hymn, ‘All Praise to Thee, My God This Night,’ these words “Teach me to live, that I may dread the grave as little as my bed. Teach me to die, that so I may rise glorious at The Awe-full Day”[3] … that is The Judgment Day.

The World is full of distractions: the more your eye is off of Jesus, the more your trust is in the things and riches of this World and not in the blessings and riches of God, the more unrest you will feel in your heart, the more anxiety and stress you will be saddled with. Be close to Jesus, be near to Him day by day, pray to Him when things are going well and when things are going poorly, remembering always that He is the one who says to you, “Come to Me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Jesus invites us to learn from Him how to live under His care and in so doing Jesus promises that “you will find rest for your souls.”[4] Life in the World is full of trouble and stress; life in Christ is rest and peace even in the face of trouble and stress.

We thank God that Mervin had his rest and peace in Christ both in this life and that he now continues to have his rest and peace in Christ as his body sleeps and awaits The Last Day and the life which is to come. ‘Lord, grant this to us all as we live our perishable lives now looking forward to the imperishable life which is to come.’ Therefore, dear ones, “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour [in this life] is not in vain.” 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] Colossians 3:3–4
[2] Philippians 1:21–24
[3] All Praise to Thee, My God, This Night, Lutheran Service Book, Concordia Publishing House 2006, verse 3 #883.
[4] Matthew 11:28–30

Photo Credits: Main Photo provided by the Gottfried family and Mount Olive Lutheran Church; detail of stained glass window of Jesus on the cross from pexels; detail of trumpet player from pexels; detail of alarm clock from pexels; detail of bed from pexels and baptism from schultzphotographic.