Paul Hopkie Funeral Sermon - John 15, Psalm 23, Romans 8 - November 17th, 2021 / Spot on His Love 2
Text: John 15
Theme: “Spot on His Love II”
Intr – Two months ago I sat down with Doug and Darrel and asked them about what comes to mind when thinking of their mom’s life. They had many thoughts to offer, as she lived 89 years on this side of heaven. This week we sat down again as their beloved dad was also called by the Lord at the age of 94 and again, there was plenty to be shared. Paul was a man who enjoyed being busy man, loved mechanical fixings of all sorts and frequently welcomed with wide arms company over at their place. But it stood out to me that they brought one special thing he had in common with their mom. He was always ready to help, to lend a hand. The spot shouldn’t be on him, but on others.
My sermon on Hilda’s funeral was “Spot on His Love”. So today we have “Spot on His Live 2”, since it seems like Paul and Hilda were branches of the same Vine, weren’t they?
We know that they were indeed. Both Hilda and Paul were baptized in their Christian faith early on in life. They were confirmed, and they lived their life seeking to live their faith out in the Church and in the world, as Christians always strive to do.
That is not by chance though, not even by their own efforts. The spot is not on them, but on Christ. We learn that from John chapter 15, where Jesus says he is the Vine and we are the branches. When we are called to faith in Him, we are grafted by the Father, the vinedresser, into the Vine, which is Christ. From Him we receive nurturing, strengthening and blessings to live a life where we spot on many different things we like, always with the main spot not on us, but on Him: our forgiveness of sins and life forever. Every Christian is connected to Vine, Jesus, and without Him we can do nothing. Therefore, when Christians are putting others before themselves, when the spot is not on them, but on others, they do so motivated by the faith that was implanted in their hearts - Faith active in love for God and for others. Jesus says: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you…. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you….17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”
This is what we learn also from Psalm 23, our OT reading today. How is it that I shall not want; that I can have green pastures and still waters? How can I walk the valley of the shadow of death with no fear, how can my cup overflow, and how can I have goodness and mercy in all the days of my life? Should I put the spot on in my own strength, capacities and ability to deal with all things in life? We know that’s the wrong answer. Even though we can do many things in life, and fix many things like Paul did with every mechanical thing that he got in hands, here King David puts the spot on the right spot: The Lord is my Shepherd. He makes me. He leads me. He prepares me a table. Spot not on us, but on Him. His Cross is the spot to draw near to in our joyful moments to give Him thanks and in our darkest hours to bring Him our sorrows. The Shepherd gave His own life on that Cross to give access to the Vine and receive the fullness of His love. In faith, we will be ready to put the spot on the right things in life. Spot on His Love.
Still, when we lose someone we love it’s hard not to feel disconnection. Grief and sadness may overtake our minds and hearts. In those moments we can always remember the assurance we have in faith: we are branches of the Vine that feeds us constantly and permanently. Beyond that, we know that life with Him here, as good as it gets, pales before the life to come. This is the Hope every Christian receives at their Baptism and is strengthened by The Word and The Holy Supper: life eternal. Christ was risen from the dead, killing death’s power, so we will rise too, on the last day to meet Christ and to be reunited with our loved ones who departed in faith ahead of us. This hope is offered to all, in Christ, through faith.
Cc – Spot on His Love. Spot on Christ. This is the right, sweet spot to be when it comes to grieving and mourning the departure of a loved one. For even though we may feel disconnected - that is what death does humanly speaking, we know that in Christ there is no such thing as disconnection. We know from Saint Paul in Romans 8 that “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
That is His promise. Spot on His faithful promises. Spot on His Love. Every day.