Norman Manz Funeral Sermon - Luke 12:22–31 October 19th 2022 / Trust in the LORD
Norman Manz Graveside Service Sermon, Pr. Ted A. Giese / Wednesday October 19th 2022, Regina, Saskatchewan: Season of Pentecost / Luke 12:22–31"Trust in the LORD"
And [Jesus] said to His disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
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. Dorothy, Garth, Cathy: good Christian friends and family of Norman Manz. Jesus says, “Do not be anxious about your life,” and that part of my heart that is anxious about my life asks, “How? How can I not be anxious when everything is unsettled, nothing is going particularly great and those things that are seem to be buried under a pile of things that aren’t: how can I not be anxious?” Saint Paul in his letter to the Philippians says, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” Norman knows the secret too. Jesus in the Gospel for today from the Gospel of Saint Luke is teaching the answer to this question of anxiety. The thing that sees you through when the way is hard, when the grief is strong, when the World is dark, when the work seems daunting, when you feel alone, when you look around and think that the birds and flowers have it better off than you.
The answer is trust. Norman trusted in God, he trusted in the Father and in the Son and in the Holy Spirit, the one into whom Norman is baptized. When you have trust in the LORD you are content that God has every hour of the span of your life in His hands that you will be fed and clothed and cared for and when you have that trust as Norman had then you can work to serve others. Whatever anxieties you might have become small in the presence of the living God. And so Norman chose to include Psalm 36 today which confesses the firm footing of trust in the LORD when King David says, “How precious is Your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.” Likewise Norman chose to include a passage from Isaiah 10 where the prophet describes the God who Norman puts his trust in with these words, “The LORD goes out like a mighty man, like a man of war [the LORD] stirs up His zeal; He cries out, He shouts aloud, He shows Himself mighty against His foes.” Dear ones when you are baptised into Christ Jesus your enemies of Sin, Death, the Devil, the World and even your stubborn Flesh that desires to run after these things become the foes of the LORD. You and God share the same enemies and you can trust that God in Christ Jesus has fought that fight, trusting this means you are free, free from the anxieties of this life because your life is tucked away in Christ, free from the fear of death because Christ Jesus defeated death upon the cross of His crucifixion, defeated death in His resurrection from the dead that first Easter Sunday.
And what is the might of God? God is described as mighty. What is the might of the LORD in Christ Jesus? Is it the power to physically punch the devil in the mouth so hard as to break his feeble jaw for all eternity? Is it the might of armies and artillery? What is it that breaks the grip of the World over your soul? What is it that ends the war that rages in your heart? What is it that feeds the ravens and clothes the lilies of the field? Love: Love and service are the might of God. Caring for others, putting yourself last so others can be first. When the disciples James and John came asking Jesus to grant them places of honour at Jesus’ side thinking that they would receive special treatment, they did not receive what they expected, Jesus referring to Himself answered them saying, “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” There is a hymn in our hymnal that we are not singing today but helps us better understand this, it’s called, "Lord, Help Us Walk Your Servant Way." You could look at the words of this hymn as a prayer; the first verses go like this,
1 Lord, help us walk Your servant way Wherever love may lead And, bending low, forgetting self, Each serve the other’s need.
2 You came to earth, O Christ, as Lord, But pow’r You laid aside. You lived Your years in servanthood; In lowliness You died.
3 No golden scepter but a towel You place within the hands Of those who seek to follow You And live by Your commands.
The last verse ends where the hymn began saying again;
5 Lord, help us walk Your servant way Wherever love may lead And, bending low, forgetting self, Each serve the other’s need.
The Almighty Jesus who could have walked away at any moment to save Himself, did not; the Mighty Son of Man chose to instead trust His heavenly Father to the bitter end upon the cross and in so doing ransomed you from your enemies of Sin, Death, the Devil, the World and Selfishness. Yes, it was trust that took the lash, and the cold hard nails and sharp thorns, the sullen stream of death. It was love and service that put you first in the heart of Jesus and now we love God, we serve others putting them before us, because God first loved us, because He first served us. Hold firm to this and you will be content with whatever comes your way, and you will be ready to pick up the towel to be of service, you will be free to clean and to care, to make the lives of others easier when life is hard. Many people can swing a hammer, can mop a floor, can fix a problem or clean a mess but when they swing the hammer for themselves they worry about the day they have no strength the swing it anymore; when they swing the hammer, mop the floor, mow the lawn, fix the problem or clean the mess out of gratitude to God and out of love of their neighbour then they need not worry about the day when their personal strength is gone because they trust in the LORD, because they trust that God loves them more than the birds of the air or the lilies of the field. Norman had this. This is for you as well. What does Jesus say, “do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”
Dear ones all things have been handed over to Christ Jesus by His heavenly Father and it is this same Jesus who says to you, to me, to Norman these words of comfort to the anxious soul, the anxious mind, the anxious body, “Come to Me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” [Jesus says to you] “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Norman made light work of serving others because his trust was in the LORD, a trust by the grace of God fixed in faith on the God who first served him before Norman could serve anyone. Find your rest and refuge in this Christ Jesus as Norman did.
Rest in peace Norman, good and faithful servant, you have been faithful over a little the LORD will undoubtedly set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master, your labours are over, your rest is won in Christ Jesus, your trust now sees your redeemer face to face. 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.
 Philippians 4:12
 Psalm 36:7
 Isaiah 42:13
 Romans 12:3
 Mark 10:45
 Lord, Help Us Walk Your Servant Way, Lutheran Service Book, Concordia Publishing House 2006, #857
 John 13:1-20
 1 John 4:19
 Matthew 11:28–30
 Matthew 25:21