Oswald Herman Neu Funeral Sermon - Psalm 23 March 17st 2021 / I Will Fear no Evil
Funeral Sermon for Oswald Herman Neu - Graveside Service at the Southey Cemetery / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Wednesday March 17th 2021: Season of Lent / Psalm 23 "I Will Fear no Evil."
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
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’s walk through the valley of the shadow of death was short, so short in fact that it came as a bit of a shock to us all. We had already by that point been expecting Oswald’s death. I had already had the commendation of the dying with Oswald twice when his wife Margaret suddenly died. And since we had expected Oswald to die sooner rather than later we put off the funeral for a time expecting that we could bury them together, husband and wife, on the same day. But that is not how things went. (Margaret's funeral sermon can be found here)
Oswald’s “walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” was much, much longer. I can count on one hand the number of people admitted to palliative care at the grace hospice that have stayed their whole allotted time and continued to live. Very few do. Because of Covid-19 Oswald’s stay was extended there, even longer than expected, and he out lived the extension they gave him.
One thing I can say about these last couple years of hospital stays, palliative care, hospice care and then long term care at the WASCANA Rehab is that through all of it Oswald didn’t face any of it with fear. Reading Psalm 23 and reflecting on Oswald the phrase, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me,” really sticks out.
The “You” there in Psalm 23 is Jesus, ‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Jesus is with me; and with His shepherd’s crook, that rod and staff, Jesus gives me comfort.’ Comfort because I know He’s taking care of me. He beats away my enemies, He holds me in place when I need to stay put, and He lifts me up when I fall low.
Today is Saint Patrick’s Day and there’s a prayer attributed to Saint Patrick where He describes Jesus saying, “Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.” That is how Jesus was with Oswald. When Jesus is with you like that, you need “fear no evil,” yes, having Jesus with you like that makes it easier to “walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” without fear no matter how short or long that walk might be.
Psalm 23 ends, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Oswald knew that and he knew that, “The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” When it says that goodness and mercy shall follow me, here think on how Jesus doesn’t just walk ahead of us only as He leads us along the way, Jesus - like in St. Patrick’s prayer - is also watching our back; walking and following behind us with goodness and mercy all the days of our life.
Oswald had a long life here in this life, 97 year, but that life is not truly over, His life in Christ Jesus is only just beginning, for in Christ Oswald will “dwell in the house of the LORD forever,” not because of his own works or merit but because of Jesus, the one who lived and died and lives for Oswald and for you. In Baptism, in Holy Communion, in the preaching and reading of Scripture, in confession and absolution, Oswald received the forgiveness of Jesus won at the cross on that first Good Friday and revealed in the empty tomb of that first Easter Sunday.
This freedom to live a life without fear, to walk through everything even death with your trust firmly placed in Christ is not something that only belongs to Oswald. This is for you too, and we know this to be true because Jesus tells us in John 3:16, “For God loved the world in this way, He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” God’s Son is Jesus, and Jesus is the Good Shepherd of Psalm 23. God gave this Jesus to Oswald, God gives this same Jesus to you and Jesus says of Himself, “I came that [you] may have life and have it abundantly. I am the Good Shepherd.” Jesus says, “The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” Trust in Jesus and you will have nothing to fear in life or in death. 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.
 Psalm 145:8
 John 10:10–12
Photo Credits: Hospital Bed from pxhere.com; Sheep looking Back from pexels.com; Saint Patrick Window from commons.wikimedia.org; Shepherd with Sheep from pexels.com; Jesus the Good Shepherd from pxhere.com