Summary: Funeral sermon
November 13, 2006
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the
stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Wait for the Lord; be
strong and let your heart take courage.
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is an everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth. He gives power to the faint, and
strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the
young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their
strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not
be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31).
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me,
even thought they die, yet shall they live, and whoever lives and believes in
me shall never die. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the
end, the first and the last. I died, and behold I am alive forever more.
Because I live, you shall live also.”
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first
earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City,
the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a
bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the
throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with
them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be
their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more
death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed
away. He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything
new!” (Revelation 21:1-5).
There are a lot of things I suppose that could be said today. Generations of
preachers have tried to find just the right words, just the right turn of a
phrase, just the right combination of thoughts to make sense out of death.
Even though we know that death is the price of life, we are still fairly
unprepared for it. It is the last great unknown, or to use a phrase from a
couple of decades ago, “the final frontier.”
But no matter what we do or say, the facts speak for themselves. Walter
Muth has died and we are here to mourn his death. We are here to ask the
hard questions. We are here to find some comfort in the presence of loved
ones. We are here to search the heart of God for peace and understanding.
All in all, we find that this is a good day to cry. Walter, who was with us
just a few short days ago, is no longer in our midst. Left behind are Lavaun,
Bob, Tom, Muriel, Nathan, Joshua, and Megan. Left behind are, who knows
how many friends and acquaintances. Left behind are, who knows how
many people Walter touched as a teacher, as a businessman, and as a music
judge and singer. Because he is gone from our midst, it is a good day to cry.
We cry because we realize that our faith is neither so mindless nor so
heartless that it is immune to grief. Even though we cry, we realize that our
hope is based – not on some knee-jerk optimism - but rather on the profound
awareness that even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of
death, we will fear no evil. We cry today just like Jesus wept outside the
tomb of Lazarus. We cry today, but our tears do not dissolve the certainty
that Christ conquers death for us and for our salvation.
We cry today, but we do so with the knowledge that our tears are only
temporary, only transitory. We wait for that day when all of our tears shall
be dried and all our pain taken away. We have confidence is that coming
day when death and mourning will be taken away. We wait for that day
when this old order is taken away and we are reunited in the New Jerusalem.
I have said this many times before. I am sure that some of you have heard
me say it. I don’t hesitate to pray at hospital bedsides for healing. I have
seen God do miraculous things…not all the time, but sometimes, and I am
not willing to put limits on God regarding his ability to act or his timetable.
I have seen people who I have believed to be in their very last days, recover
and leave the hospital to continue a productive life. So I am always open to