Rosemarie Petz Funeral Sermon - John 16:20-24; 2 Timothy 4:6-8 / August 24th 2022 / "And no one will take your joy from you.”
Text: John 16; 2Timothy 4
Theme: “and no one will take your joy from you.”
Intr – Rose was a person who smiled and laughed a lot; music was very important to her; she was a great cook as well, among many other features of her life as we heard in the tribute today. I’ve singled out two of those characteristics for this brief message. Number one, that as information operator for Sasktel, she could hear any name and spell them out correctly. Number two, her commitment to faith and to the Church; her commitment to Christ.
In the perspective of the end that a funeral always brings, these serve as a frame to understand our entire Christian life on earth right from the beginning. Number one, when we are brought to God’s family through faith our names are spelled out clearly and correctly in the eyes of the Father. Number two, as we live in and with Jesus our lives become committed to Him. We hear God’s Word being spelled out all along the way, giving us purpose, meaning, and direction until our end comes.
In this connection, the readings chosen by the family today bring a couple of the core truths God spells out in our Christian life especially regarding the end:
One is about finishing our life race well. St Paul writes to Timothy: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” This is not happening to Paul because of some super natural capacity he has, but because of the Holy Spirit’s action in His heart. Therefore, that holds true for all of us when our race on this side of heaven comes to an end, like Rose’s came to a close last week: “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”. As we finish our race committed to Christ we will hear God’s voice spelling out our name loud and clear on the last day, inviting us to our eternal home with him.
Number two, in the Gospel Jesus talks about joy; true joy. “So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” It may sound odd to talk about joy in a day like today, when we lay Rose to rest with her beloved husband Nick. But even if a part of us mourn in sorrow, we have there inside our hearts the joy that nothing and nobody can take away for us. We belong to Christ; we are in His hands, walking in the assurance of his care and love.
This is why Jesus tells us, “Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” He is not talking about possessions, assets, or just fleeting pleasures of life. He is talking about essence, The same essence Rose had throughout her life walking in faith, as she had the Bible to guide her steps, she had the Church as her family along with family and friends, she had Holy Communion as the food for her soul. All these gifts are available to all of us as we walk committed to Christ so that or joy may be full. It is not just about being happy or sad, those things happen in life. But it is about true joy and contentment, which stem from Christ to our hearts. Jesus couldn’t have spelt it more clearly: in me, your joy is full. This is why we can think of joy even when we are sad. We will receive green pastures and still waters, and comfort and rest to our souls. We know that on the resurrection day, the last day, we will see Jesus face to face and our loved ones who are now sleeping in Jesus to live forever. Our joy will be full.
Cc – As we know, in last 10 years, with the help of her husband and all the family, Rose struggled with her memory that started to fail on her, as she started to forget mostly everything. There are two important things I'd like to mention in this context: 1) the very last things that Rose remembered were the table prayer, and the hymn “How Great thou art.” It was not her possessions, or how much she made at work, places she traveled or things she bought. That speaks volumes about the most important thing in life. 2) God’s memory never fails. Ever. Even when everything in us fails, God will always remember to love us, forgive and save us. In Him we have spelled out, in capital letters, PEACE and JOY for life. And no one will take them from us.