Summary: This is a sermon I preached for a funeral for someone I didn’t know. The funeral was during the Christmas season.
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 us...to 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,
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.
Sometimes the journey is filled with joy,
and sometimes the journey is sad and lonely.
But God’s love and goodness is available to us.
And God has promised us that this life is not the end.
We have the hope of heaven.
If the 1st verse of Psalm 23 is true, that the Lord is indeed our Shepherd, And we have invited Jesus into our hearts
Then the last verse of Psalm 23 is true, and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
We have gathered in this hour,
not only to grieve the death of Gertrude,
but to give thanks to God for her life among us.
We have gathered,
not only to mourn over how different our lives will be without her,
but to give thanks to God for how full life was when she was with us.
We have gathered,
not only to consider the shortness and uncertainty of life on earth,
but to give thanks to God for his gift of eternal life in in heaven.
Not only was the Lord, the Good Shepherd there for Gertrude...
But He is here for you, those that are hurting today.
Allow the Good Shepherd to lead you down paths through green pastures
And beside still waters.
Allow Him to restore your soul.
Allow Him to minister to you during your struggle with fear and grief and pain.
Allow Him to be Emmanuel,
God with you.