Summary: A funeral sermon for a long time member of the church, who died in faith.
Dave Anderson, April 4, 2009
Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, through your Holy Spirit, open our hearts and minds to your Word, granting us a renewed and strengthened faith, that we might find comfort in your grace, and hope for the future. Enable us to trust in your gift of eternal life, accomplished for us through the death and resurrection of your Son, Jesus the Christ, so that we might live our lives in the confidence of being reunited with all your redeemed saints in the life to come. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. Amen.
Let me begin by expressing to you, Dave’s family and friends, not only my own personal sympathy, but also the sympathy of our congregation. Quite frankly, Dave has been a well-loved and respected member of our congregation for more than the 20 plus years that I have served as the pastor of St. John’s. And so we share in your grief, and lift you in our prayers and concerns, that God’s grace might bring you his peace.
This past Wednesday, Jodie and I spent a little time in the office sharing some of our memories of Dave. Now, I didn’t realize that Dave enjoyed gardening, at least raising rhubarb. Jodie said that nearly every year Dave would ask her if she had any extra horse manure that he could get for his garden. Jodie told me that she always answered, Dave, you can come and get all you want.
Jodie than said that Dave would pull up in his car, open up the trunk, in which he had spread out a plastic tarp to protect the carpet, fill a couple of buckets and sit them on the tarp and close the trunk. Then Dave would begin to argue with Jodie about paying her for the manure, to which Jodie would always refuse, telling Dave that what he had taken was just that much less she would have to shovel.
This brought up a crazy thought for me. Regardless of how meticulous Dave might have been in protecting the trunk of his car, you can’t protect against the aroma of that precious fertilizer. I remember a time, shortly after I had graduated from High School, when I had to travel to up-state New York. My boss at the time asked me to stop at one of the cheese factories along Route 19, and pick him up some Limburger. And so, on the way up, I did just that. I picked up a couple of pounds and placed it in a small cooler in the trunk of my car.
By the time I got home, it took months to get rid of that aroma. And for the longest time, when I would get together with my friends, nobody wanted me to drive. But then, seeing how clean Dave kept his vehicles, I’m sure he had some solution to the problem.
And Josie and I certainly found Dave to be a true fan of the Black and Gold. There was hardly a Sunday during the Pirates or Steelers seasons, that Dave didn’t make some comments about the up-coming game or on the status of the season. One day, noticing how Josie tended to wear our team colors to worship, he quipped to me “I know you always wear black on Sunday, but where’s the gold. On supper bowl Sunday, Dave was in the hospital. Josie bought Dave a Steelers balloon for me to take in to him, but the biggest thrill he got was when I told him about wearing my black and gold stole and cincture. “I wish I would have been there to see that,” he said. “I would have clapped.”
I truly loved Dave, as did all of us here this morning. And there is no doubt that we grieve his absence from us. We still long to extend our relationship with Dave, to hear him clap, to listen to his praise and lament for his teams, to feel his touch and embrace, even his grouchy moments. But the reality of our finite life has come home to us. Dave has died. As a child of mortal parents, his earthly life has ended.
But as Christians, “we do not grieve without hope,” as Paul stated in his First Letter to the Thessalonians. For our faith in Christ leads us to acknowledge that as a result of our faith and baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection, our grief is temporary. Our grief will be turned to joy when we are reunited with Dave and all those who have come to faith in Christ, in the life to come.
Dave was a person of faith, who truly believed in the redeeming grace of God in Jesus the Christ. Dave rarely missed a Sunday to worship God for his gift of redemption, when he was able to attend. And he appreciated my visits and always asked for prayer, while he was in the hospital. And I believe that Dave, although wishing that he could have a little more time, knew that his death was near, and died trusting in God’s redeeming grace.