Summary: funeral sermon

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Mary Brandt

May 13, 2006

I am constantly amazed at the ways in which people allow me into their

lives. I often ask myself just who I am. I’m a guy who went to school – a

long time. I jumped through a whole bunch of denominational hoops on the

way to ordination. Then one day, the Bishop laid his hand on my head, said

the proscribed words, and announced that I was ordained to Word, Order,

and Sacrament. And at that moment, it happened. I became a pastor, a

minister, the leader of a local congregation. People started coming to me

with their joys and sorrows, with their questions and ponderings, with their

doubts and with their fears. For twenty-five years, I have been constantly

amazed that people have enough trust in me to allow me into the most sacred

times in their lives: births, baptisms, graduations, illnesses, family struggles,

and death. I am pretty much just an ordinary guy, but am more humbled

than I can express when I enter into the great passages in people’s lives.

There are great moments in human life; moments when new chapters open

up, new avenues are taken, and new experiences met. These rites of passage

are important moments when we are all changed. Think about the changes

that happen in our lives. Think of how we change from childhood into

adolescence. Think of how we change from adolescence into adulthood.

Think of the changes that occur with the coming of retirement.

These are all times that bring with them a certain sense of the unknown. We

may have some vague idea of what waits, but really don’t know until we get

there. The greatest rite of passage, the greatest change, the greatest

unknown, comes at death.

Now, for those of us who are Christian, we find that the unknown of death is

not that big of a deal because death has lost its fear. Death is not fearful

because, through our faith, we have come to know what waits. We

remember the Scripture in the fourteenth chapter of John, in which Jesus

promises that he is preparing a place for all of us. When that place is

prepared, he will receive us into our new home.

It is death that brings us all here together today. We come here to witness to

our faith, and to the faith of Mary Brandt. We come here to praise God and

proclaim the reality of resurrection. We come here to proclaim that death is

not the final answer, death will not win, and death will not silence our


I want to repeat a story that I told only six weeks ago at the funeral of

another woman in the church. Just a short time before our oldest son was

born, my grandmother died. I left my very pregnant wife in Denver and

flew back to Fort Wayne for the funeral. Dr. William Dean was, at that

time, pastor of Memorial Baptist Church. To this day, I remember the

sermon he preached at her funeral. In fact, I not only remember it, but I use


He was talking about the 23rd Psalm. He told us what a wonderful psalm it

was and how it has provided so much comfort through the ages to countless

generations of God’s people. It is a psalm of confidence and trust. It is a

psalm of hope. It is a psalm of peace, love, gentleness, and security.

It is a psalm of David. King David knew trouble. He knew heartache. He

knew trials and temptations. He knew fear. He knew the depths of his sins.

But he also knew the Lord, his Shepherd. The Shepherd was the One who

protected the sheep under his care, the One who could be trusted, the One

who could be called upon in times of trouble, the One who would never

forsake those who loved him.

Bill Dean told us about the most important word in the psalm. That word is

through. ”Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I

will fear no evil.” Death is just that…a valley through which we all must

walk. We can’t escape it, run from it, or hide from it. We may try to deny

its power, but that only lasts for so long. Death eventually catches up with

all of us. Death is the price of life.

But death is different for those of us who have religious faith; because we

know that the valley of death is not never-ending. We rest in the assurance

that we will emerge from that valley into the light of God’s eternity. Those

who place their faith and trust in God are never left alone, never.

We all knew Mary’s faith. We all knew how much she loved her church.

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