Summary: This sermon was for the funeral of a believer.
A funeral is a trying time. We come together and many of us know each other, many of us do not know each other. We’re drawn by a need to say goodbye. To mark something that for all intents and purposes feels like an ending. A departure. If you were like me you were shocked to hear that Steve had passed away. You had to shake your head and say to yourself, “What?!”
We’ve heard stories about Steve and I appreciate so much your willingness to share your experience of Steve. For all of us, our understanding of who Steve was has broadened at least a bit. We have a greater sense of who Steve was. We know that he was very involved in more than one community. We know that he liked to be with people of faith, that he liked to participate in communities of faith.
And it is indeed faith in God that we need to turn to now as we mourn the loss of Steve, the absence of Steve from our lives and our community.
In our scripture today we hear the voice of Jesus, and just as he spoke to his disciples in their confusion and need, as they heard Jesus speak of His own coming death, Jesus speaks to us. First He says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled”.
That might seem a bit odd. It’s quite natural to be troubled by the death of a friend, of a community member. We feel the loss personally, we see the loss in the eyes of others, and we know that there are likely many that we do not know who are also affected and saddened by Steve’s loss. We sense the impact. For the disciples who heard these words for the first time from Jesus’ lips, their fear was in losing the one they were coming to know as the Christ, the One sent from God, the One who is God. Their emotions were raw. But Jesus was promising that there is a way for a troubled heart to turn, there is something to fill the empty place left behind.
And so Jesus says to them: “Trust in God, trust also in me”. We will naturally feel loss and have a sense of restlessness perhaps in our bellies as we reflect on the subject of death. Jesus says: “Trust in God”. He challenges us to turn to the living God with our sorrow and with our doubts and questions and fears about death. God is our Maker. He gives and He takes away. It just makes sense that we would turn ourselves toward God, perhaps open our hearts to God more than we might otherwise, when we consider these, life’s biggest questions.
Jesus also says to trust in Him. He says that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus is sufficient...more than enough to meet all of these troubles. He is the way to peace. He is our peace. He gives a peace that passes understanding.
A way, a truth, a life. Isn’t it true that each of us looks for a way to live, a pathway to follow that will lead us to good things. That won’t lead us to bad things? A way, a way of living, a lifestyle that opens bright doors to the future? And don’t each of us want truth. We want a real experience of life. We don’t want to waste out time with lies. With false paths. And don’t we each want to make a life, to live life well, to live a life that has a future...and even a future beyond the grave?
Jesus says to us that He fulfills all these longings. And He’s not just a way, a truth, a life. He is THE way, THE truth, THE life. Life in it’s fullest is experienced in Jesus. And this is the invitation of this Scripture. This Jesus, who conquered death at the cross, who came as the visible, tangible expression of all that God is. This Jesus, who invites us in our sadness to turn to Him and be comforted, to be embraced by the love of God. This Jesus, who promises to walk with us and talk with us and live our life with Him, and then to enjoy eternity in the presence of God and everyone else who turns to God. This Jesus is the One who Steve met in person on the day of his passing. The One each of us will meet the moment we pass over to the other side. This Jesus. The Way. The Truth. The Life.