Summary: This is a sermon I preached for a funeral for someone I didn’t know. The funeral was during the Christmas season.

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Funeral for Gertrude Kanan


2000 years ago, our world was a dark and gloomy place.

It was dark politically, because the people were oppressed under the harsh Roman rule.

It was dark spiritually, because it had been over 400 years without a prophet from God.

When life seemed the most desperate,

That’s when Jesus came

That’s why we call Him Emmanuel, which means God with us.

Jesus came to be with us when life was at it’s most difficult 2000 years ago.

We have just celebrated His birthday on Christmas.

Not only was it gloomy in the world 2000 years ago,

But as you, the family and friends of Gertrude Kanan can testify,

it is gloomy today.

Life is difficult today.

Let me assure you that 2000 years later,

God will come again.

He will be Emmanuel, God with us, today.

Let’s Pray, and ask Emmanuel, God will be with us right now.

For centuries the Twenty-third Psalm has been one of the most treasured passages in all of Scripture.

It is among the most familiar,

most people will recognize the words

These words are among the most comforting,

and we often quote these words in times of trouble or distress.

Read Psalm 23


There are many images in this psalm that hold particular meaning. One image comes from the verse, Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Wouldn’t it be great if God would simply promise to us that we would never go through difficult times!

But we do go through great and terrible difficulties

all the time.

The Bible tells us that there will be difficult times in life,

The 23rd Psalm does NOT say, “God will keep you from difficult and painful things”

but instead it tells us that even when we feel like we are walking through a dark, dangerous valley –

a “valley of the shadow of death.”

That God will be with us.

God is there to comfort us and sustain us.

The Bible tells us that His rod and His staff will comfort us.

God is frequently described in the Bible as being like a shepherd

who cares for and tends to a flock of sheep.

The rod is used by a shepherd to ward off dangerous animals and to guide the sheep as they walk.

The staff with its large crook at the end serves to support the sheep’s body when it crosses a dangerous trail.

In the same way, God, the Good Shepherd,

protects us,

guides us,

and supports us.

He does not send us through the dark valley by saying, "I hope you make it through okay...and if you do, I’ll meet you on the other side."

No....He goes with us every step of the way.

In recent days, Gertrude could certainly relate to going through such a “valley of the shadow of death.”

But she was never alone.

Not only did she have her family,

but she also had the Good Shepherd at her side

Emmanuel, God with us.

Another image we see in this passage of Scripture is found in the words, “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever”

The end of our journey through life on earth is to be with God forever.

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