Summary: Funeral Sermon for a faithful man in his eighties after lengthy heart problems
Funeral Sermon 4 June 2001 John 14:1-6
Rev. Roger Haugen
Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way where I am going. Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me."
If you are like me you like things to start and stop quickly, and on command. If the engine of my van runs on after I shut off the ignition I take it to the garage because something is wrong. If we turn off the radio and the sound keeps coming there is something very strange. Yet if I ask my daughter to "stop crying", I don’t expect immediate silence. When an airplane comes in for a landing, we know that it has to roll for a long way before it comes to a rest. The big jet engines need to wind down before they can come to a stop.
As many of you have watched Ken wind down these past months your anxiety has wound up. We wish he could have been healed instantly. We wished our fear of the unknown and dismay to stop, instantly at the snap of a finger. We knew the end was coming but didn’t know when. In times like these we want to replace our emptiness and loss with peace, serenity, confidence and hope. All of a sudden it isn’t Ken who needs healing, it is us. Ken’s toil is over, we must go on.
The death of one whom we love is not easy, there is pain for all of us. The closer we stood to the loved one, the more pain we feel. Working beside him as family, playing with him as grandchildren, caring for him as a spouse - all give you a connection that was very close.
Now we have a few moments together for healing. We need to let the mighty engines within us, roaring with grief, wind down. We may have dreaded this moment and feared this pain. But it is really nothing more than dawn in the forest. Night sounds begin to fade, the cricket makes one last chirp and the owl one last hoot. Night itself begins to fade and as the light of the new day begins, new sounds begin to be heard. The woods come alive as the new day begins. Try now to imagine God gently shaking Ken’s shoulder, "Wake up, its over. Don’t worry about that body, we have a new one for you now."
It is good for us to be here in prayer; good to watch the night pass for Ken; good to quiet within us everything that wants to protest this moment. Just look and listen, and know that the nights sounds are over for Ken. We do not know what fears occupied his mind these past days and weeks because he was more concerned about those left behind than he was about himself. All those fears and questionings that are so much a part of life here on earth, the fears that terrify, the pains that seek to destroy us, are all over for Ken today. Those questions that he no doubt ran over and over in his mind these last months. "Who will take care of those who are left?" They are all over for him. Just as Ken was tested, Jesus was also tested. Today Jesus is not ashamed to call Ken a brother, because Jesus shared the same things with Ken. We read in Hebrews
For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sister saying, " I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you."
We are gathered here among the saints, temples created by God. We can count everyone here in this church today and not begin to know how many temples of God are present. We cannot see, but faith reveals another multitude, gathered around us, sitting in our laps, filling all space, worshiping, guarding us like angels and whispering in our ears messages from God, "Let not your heart be troubled. Let not your heart be troubled." Ken is now with that multitude wanting to speak to each one who mourns, "Don’t worry about me, I have gone to a greater peace."