Summary: Funeral sermon for 72 year old Christan man who died suddenly.
“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’”
In Jesus’ name. Amen. “Jesus Christ has risen from the dead.” No other words bring more comfort to a believer in the Lord than these. For the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead gives our lives meaning. This one event — two thousand years ago — defines who we are. It is the reason we have gathered here in the beautiful house of worship. Not beautiful because of the architecture, or the stained glass windows—as beautiful as those things are. But beautiful because of what happens here.
What happens here is nothing less than a miracle. Here is where God comes to us. The creator of the universe come to us in His Word, in song, in bread and wine. Here we find comfort from the evil world. Here all things are made new in Jesus Christ.
As we gather this evening, the world has invaded our peace and our comfortable place. Some would say that “death and claimed one of our own.” But that’s not true. Death has no claim on us. Sure, it will claim our bodies, but death no longer has mastery over us because in Christ we are alive forever. When Gene was baptized up the hill from here, he actually died. I don’t say this flippantly, but rather to make a point. St. Paul says in Romans “all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death” (Romans 6:3). We died with Christ. And “if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him” (v. 8-9). Since that day in 1928, Gene the lost and condemned sinner has been dead and Gene the saved and redeemed saint has been living because Jesus Christ lived in Him. And Gene continues to live on in heaven.
We would rather Gene be with us still. He was a joy to be around. Sure, he could beat me at golf. Sure he was a Packer fan, but I loved him anyway. It will be strange preaching here and not seeing Gene sitting next to you. But now St. John’s has been made new. We are a congregation with a legacy of the faithfulness of Gene Welak. Even has he rejoices in heaven and enjoys his eternal rest in the bosom of God, he calls out to us to be faithful to God. He tells us to worship faithfully and regularly. For Gene literally lived the words of Jesus: “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10b).
God is making everything new. Gene’s heart is now as strong as he wished it would be during his earthly life. God is making everything new. Gene enjoys the new heaven and the new earth – the new and fully restored paradise we lost because of our fall into sin. God is making us new as we move into a new phase of our lives. A little sadder, a little confused and frightened. But God is making us new and stronger in our faith in Jesus Christ – the faith that Gene confessed mightily as a member of this congregation.
“He who was seated on the throne [also] said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’”
I don’t want to overlook this part of our text for it is full of comfort and hope. St. John was told to write down what he had heard from God because what he heard is trustworthy and true. Specifically, the fact that because of Jesus Christ’s life, death and resurrection, “... 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” (Revelation 21:3-4). Here, God dwells among us until we die. When we die, we dwell with God forever in heaven. Here, tears will be shed. We will face death, mourning, crying, pain – the old order of things. But here, we also hear of the wonderfully comforting Good News About Jesus and the new things He makes with His death and resurrection. Gene knows that and, as a lasting legacy to us, urges us to remember to remain faithful. He wants us to be strong and courageous and remain faithful so that we will be reunited with him in heaven where we will remain the house of the Lord forever.