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  • Writer's pictureRev. Chris Brademeyer

Jesus is Greater Than Death!

For the Funeral of Gloria Bock

The Funeral of Gloria Bock, March 27, 2024

Isaiah 25:6-9, 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18, John 5:24-30

Rev. Christopher W. Brademeyer

 

That portion of God’s holy Word for consideration this morning is our Old Testament reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah in the twenty-fifth chapter with special emphasis on verses six through eight which read as follows:

 

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.”

 

Thus far the Scriptures.

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

                It is often hard to find the right words to say in hard times, particularly at the loss of a dear friend and fellow Christian. How can someone sum up a life in a scant few minutes? Sure, there is the expectation that we attempt to do this, but what of it? We could talk about the interesting life Gloria led and the different places she lived. We could reminisce about her quick wit and the confident way she said what she thought. We could spend time unpacking her love for her grand kids or her stoic, sometimes gruff, upper plains disposition. There are hours of conversation that might be indulged in concerning her straight-forward honesty.

                There is a tendency at funerals to dwell on the past. This, I suppose, makes a lot of sense. After all, the occasion of a funeral is the loss of someone that we care about, in this case our dear sister in Christ, Gloria. But to do only this would be to miss the point of a funeral. After all, we Christians are not in the business of sulking in the past at times like this, instead we look to the future of the return of our Lord Jesus and the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. In other words, we do not spend much time dwelling in the past because our hope is not there. Our hope lies ahead in the present giving of our Lord Jesus to us sinners in need of His salvation.

                Now this is not to say that there is nothing to say about the past. We could tell quite a story about Gloria, her life, her sayings, her interests, and the like. But Gloria did not want me to make a big deal out of her, so I won’t. Instead, I will do what I promised her I would when she and I sat down to plan her funeral nearly five years ago, a few months after we laid Dennis to rest: I will talk of her Lord Jesus Christ and what He did for Gloria, and indeed does for all His people.

                Gloria insisted that her funeral be focused on the salvation of our Lord. She wanted you all, her dear friends and family, to know that when she was baptized into Christ, she put on Christ so that, in being united to His death through Baptism, we might be raised like Jesus in a resurrection like His. She wanted you to know that the great maker of heaven and earth, the Almighty God, became a man to suffer and die for the sins of the world so that all of us sinners, you, me, Gloria, and everyone across this world could be saved. Our Lord Jesus paid the debt of sin, unmade the rule of Satan, and overcame death itself.

                One of the reasons our culture spends so much time dwelling in the past at times like this is because we have forgotten this. We have forgotten that the Son of God became a man and died so that we might life. We forget that eternal life is for us through the forgiveness of Jesus Christ our Lord. And so, as forgetful people, we focus on what was instead of what is and will be in the work and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.

                And make no mistake, the promise of salvation foretold in our Old Testament reading by the prophet Isaiah some 2700 years ago has been made real in our Lord Jesus Christ. You see, God did not want us to suffer under sin, the rule of the devil, or be given over to death. We were made to live and live forever with God. But, such is the nature of things, the unnatural enemy of death came into the world due to the introduction of sin by our first parents, Adam and Eve, and we now have to deal with loss, suffering, and death. It was not supposed to be this way. And each of us knows this. That is why we recoil at death. That is why we suffer when friends and family like Gloria leave this mortal coil.

                The promise of our Lord Jesus, our Christian conviction, is that death is not the final thing. It does not get the last word. Jesus Christ does. This is what we celebrate every year during Holy Week. Christ overcame death. He was raised, never to die again. And, by His death, death has been trampled down. It may pursue us, bite us, and even claim us. But this is only for a time. Death now serves a new master, our Lord Himself, and does His bidding. Death now is no longer only punishment for sin, but serves as the way for Christians to enter into paradise, heaven, to wait with our Lord Jesus for the day of resurrection.

                I’m sure that you noticed that this week is Holy Week. This week celebrates the saving death of Jesus and His triumph over death in His resurrection on the third day. This is all to say something very simple: our Christian conviction, assured for us in the resurrection of our Lord, is that death does not get the last word; Christ does. He, being God in the flesh, is not held by the grave, and neither are the forgiven, faithful Christians of His flock. Death has no more dominion over us Christians. For this reason, we know that Gloria is with her Lord, safe in His protection.

                In Jesus, death has been swallowed up forever. It does not have a hold on the faithful. It has been de-fanged, bound, beaten and is all but dead itself.

                Our hope in Christ is no pious opinion, but an anticipation that what Christ already gives in the forgiveness of sins through His Word preached and given in the sacraments will be fully revealed. Death itself will be no more. We Christians will dwell in the very Kingdom of our Father forever, because of our Lord Jesus.

                I know that its hard, but we really must look ahead. Yes, by all means, share stories and memories. Recall the gift that we were given by God  in Gloria Bock. There isn’t anything wrong with that. But do not stay there. Keep on eye on Christ, who will return, and who has already destroyed death and the grave.

 

In the holy Name of + Jesus. Amen.

 

The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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