Paul Nelson Funeral Sermon - Revelation 21:1–6 January 15th 2022 / All Things New
Funeral Sermon Paul Nelson Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Saturday January 15th 2022: Season of Epiphany / Revelation 21:1–6 "All Things New"
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.”
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. Family and friends of Paul Nelson, good Christian Friends. When Paul’s father Gordon Peter Nelson died, at his service the first verse of Psalm 46 was read as one of the Scripture passages to start the service: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” As we begin this message today listen carefully: Death is not our friend, death is a thief, it robs us of life, and it takes from us those we love. Death is an enemy of life, Death is a trouble. But Take heart what does Psalm 46 say, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” The whole world is struggling with death, the fear of it lurks in every breath and yet death still comes in the way death normally does, car accidents, strokes, cancer, old age, even nasty infections … will we ever be free of Death? An idea pushed by some in the World today is that when you die there is nothing but the memory of you … this is not comforting. This is not what Christians believe, it is not what Christians confess to be true, it is not what Christians teach to their children, it is not what Gordon taught Paul and it is not what Paul teaches you.
Let me share with you a passage from near the end of the Book of Revelation. St. John writes, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”” This is what will happen on The Last Day, all will be raised from the dead and “death shall be no more,” notice too how it says that on that day, “the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more,” the waves of the sea, the turmoil of its waters all the troubles found there passed away. The one speaking here is Jesus and Jesus says on that day, “the former things have passed away.” This same Jesus provide good news, St. John continues saying that Jesus who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And [Jesus] said to [St. John], “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.” It’s not only that the troubles of this life will pass away and vanish like smoke when The Last Day comes, but we and all things on That Day will be made new.
Each year during Holy Week we remember Jesus’ last days, His triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, His clearing of the money changers from the Temple, His teaching in the Temple, His institution of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, His betrayal by Judas, His trials before the Jewish officials, King Herod and the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate, we remember Jesus’ brutal crucifixion and death, the shock and sadness of His disciples … but then on the Sunday, on Easter Sunday we remember Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. It is this Jesus, who is risen from the dead, this Jesus who is the Son of God, who will raise you up on The Last Day. This Jesus is the one who on the night before His crucifixion while speaking of His cross and passion said, “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.” It is this same Jesus, risen from the dead and ascended into heaven who says to St. John, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
Paul’s father Gordon had another Bible passage at his service and I will share it with you today too, but let me set it up first: Just before that first Holy Week, Jesus was in a town very near Jerusalem, a friend of His had died; His friend’s name is Lazarus. Now when Jesus arrived Lazarus’ Sisters Mary and Martha were a little ticked off that Jesus hadn’t swooped in earlier and healed their brother preventing his death. Jesus said to Lazarus’ sister Martha, “Your brother will rise again.” And Martha said to Jesus, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on The Last Day.” Now here’s the passage that was at Paul’s father’s Service, Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.” [Then Jesus asks,] “Do you believe this?” This is what Christian believe: that Jesus is the resurrection and the life, that in the hour of our death He comes to take us to Himself rescuing us out of our trouble, and that on The Last Day He will make all things new including each and every one of us. “Do you believe this?” Today you might say, “I want to believe,” or “I’m too angry to believe anything right now,” or “I believe; help my unbelief!,” if this is you remember this about God, “The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” Even now God is faithful and is at work in you.
What does it mean then to have every tear wiped away from our eyes? What does it mean for death to be no more; for morning and crying and pain to have passed away? What does it mean to be made new? Paul worked as an electrician, and as we heard Paul even taught apprenticeship electricians at SIAST and the human body, this mysterious and amazing gift of God that we all share, among many things, is also an electrical capacitor. The body stores electrical energy in an electric field and when Jesus makes Paul’s body new in the resurrection Paul’s electrical field will work perfectly. He will never lose consciousness suddenly due to some hick-up or quirk in his body’s electrical field. Paul will stand on his own two feet; he will be able to cast a fishing line, ride bikes and pop wheelies perfectly.
The hymn we sung before the sermon paints a vivid picture of the rocks and trees, the skies and seas and everything that God the Father made; The birds and the rustling grass, and when Jesus God the Father’s Son says, “Behold, I am making all things new,” that includes the deer and the moose and streams and the lakes and the trees and everything else: all things. All of it made new, all of it perfect, all of it with the trouble of death passed away. What joy Paul will have in the new heavens and new earth. The Christian faith is not one where everything is airy-fairy in The End, in Christ Jesus the Christian faith rests in the promise that we will be physically resurrected from the dead, body mind and soul saved from the sting of death, and we will enjoy a concrete World made new where you will be able to shake hands, hug and smile, sing and laugh in pure joy, where you will be able to make and build things with your hands freed from the toil and trouble we experience in this life. Don’t let the grinding pressures of this life sap the imagination out of your Christian life … what would it be like to build a motorcycle from scratch, designing, machining every part, planning and fabricating the wiring the spark plugs everything, assembling it, getting it running without one mistake, without any troubles or setbacks, all the fun and excitement without any of the frustrations or skinned knuckles?
Dear ones, life in Christ is life.
I’ll leave you with one more Scripture reading that was at Paul’s dad’s Service, Gordon’s Service included these words from Isaiah 41, the LORD says, “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My Righteous Right Hand.” The Righteous Right Hand of God the Father is Jesus Christ. This very same Jesus “is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Gordon handed this Christian Faith to his son Paul and Paul in his way has handed this Christian faith to you. It’s not something you pay for, it’s something handed down as a gift: not only within families between parents and children but also among friends and with strangers, with everyone. As Christians we trust in Jesus, we take refuge in Him and we live our lives helping others as we are able with the skills and talents that we have been given. Paul knew this, and when his time came earlier this week he was prepared for it. We all wanted our time with him to continue and in Christ Jesus it does continue. As hard as Death tries now to keep you apart in Christ Jesus you are together for God is not God of the dead He is God of the living and Jesus says of Himself, “I am The Way, The Truth and The Life.” 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 46:1
 Revelation 21:1-4
 Revelation 21:5-6
 John 14:1–3
 John 11:23-24
 John 11:25-26
 Mark 9:24
 Psalm 145:8
 1 Thessalonians 5:24
 Isaiah 41:10
 Psalm 91:2
 Luke 20:38
 John 14:6
Photo Credits: Hands comforted from unsplash; Photos of Painting of Jesus on Cross from pexels; Detail of Hand with Cross from pexels; all other photos suplied by family and Mount Olive Lutheran Church.