Summary: This funeral message speaks upon how the hymns we sing today can bless us for years to come, even as Christ’s promise to prepare a place for us can provide us comfort upto our last day.
I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going. Thomas said to him, Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way? Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Grace, mercy and peace to you all from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Dear family in Christ, if you knew Lucille at all, you probably knew she loved her Lutheran hymns. That was evident to me when I first visited her. Upon my visit I sang (as I love to do) a few hymns and was encouraged as I watched this woman who was struggling with her health, seek to mouth the words to the hymns she heard. Weather it was “Rock of Ages” or “Jesus loves me”, even in ill health, she wanted to sing.
We know God has blessed us in our Lutheran Worship with so many & various ways with which to praise and pray to God. But the hymns we sing are often what many will cling to in their last days on earth. For example in the hymn “Rock of Ages” we hear the words “let me hide myself in thee”. Lucille, indeed wanted to hide herself in Christ and she made that very clear to me when she asked me to pray with her that the Lord would take her home.
When Lucille’s family called me in the evening to tell me that the Lord did indeed honor our prayers for her peaceful release, I thought of a hymn. It’s the one we just sang; “Abide with me”. The words that stuck with me from that hymn were, “I need thy presence every hour” and of course I reflected upon the words that say, “Abide with me”.
With our brief time of knowing each other, Lucille helped me to see her longing as well as her love for Jesus. In the condition she was in upon most of my visits, she could not stand, she could not travel to go to church nor take part in a Bible Study or in the many and various services to God’s people and yet she was able to display the honest confession of a sinners need of a savior. All Lucille said to me one day was, “I want to go meet Jesus” and thus she said to me without words, “I need his presence every hour”. She needed Jesus’ presence when I offered her communion. She needed Jesus’ presence when we prayed and when we sang and in her last hours she needed Jesus’ presence to encourage her that He was indeed waiting for Lucille to take her home.
That is what Jesus has promised her and what he promises to all of us: That we have a place prepared for us, which we can call home. Our Gospel Reading from John 14 is one of the most comforting passages in Scripture, especially to those who know their time in this world is limited. The verse says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled”. Lucille’s only trouble within her heart was asking, “Why is Jesus delaying her access to our Father’s house?” She was ready to go. We prayed that God would also take her soon and the Lord our God, who answers the desires of our heart, heard our prayesr.
Her last words upon this earth were “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”. You know if this were a movie script, I could not write a better ending than that. Jesus wrote the same ending for you and I, and we who are left upon this earth must cling to the same words which Lucille clung. “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” We too must trust in Father, Son and Holy Spirit so that our hope will be built on nothing less, that Jesus’ blood and righteousness. We too must trust in our Lord and know that God will see us through our pain, our sorrow, and the emptiness we feel when someone we love leaves this world. We must trust that when our Lord called us to own trouble free hearts, he would have at our disposal everything we need for hope, comfort, peace, and assurance in Christ.
Our text says, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.” You know in this life rooms are not offered to everyone. A homeless person for example cannot just show up to the Marriot Hotel and ask for a room, where he or she does not have the money. In the same way, a person who has made a mistake in the past, might find room less available because of judgment and a lack of mercy and forgiveness from this world. Our Lord knows our sins, he knows our failings, he knows every mistake and stupid thing we have ever done and yet still offers us a room, not for rent, but for on the spot ownership. That offering to us, enables us in times like this, to say our Lord forgives. Our Lord heals. Our Lord most certainly restores.