Summary: A funeral sermon for a 71 year old man who passed away just a few weeks after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. I was at his bedside as he took his last breath and based my message on the liturgical canticle the "Nunc Dimmitus" which I sung at his beds
Sermon Text: “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”
Just a few short months ago, I was given what was up to that time, one of the more challenging speaking engagements of my ministry, when Nadine had asked me if I’d be willing to speak and offer a prayer at her and Leroy’s 50th wedding anniversary celebration at the AgriHall. Having only been their pastor for just under two weeks, I had a hard time trying to figure out what to say. While I did have some fun with my little speech that day, in all seriousness, I was honored to have been a part of that day, and to offer a prayer to our gracious God, thanking Him for the years He had given to LeRoy and Nadine, and asking Him to be with them in the years to come. That was a great day, a day I’ll never forget, a day I know Nadine will never forget.
Well, here we are today, almost 5 months later, and again, the Christensen family has presented me with another challenging speaking assignment. To be honest with you all, I’ve sat at my computer in my office quite a bit over the last few days, wondering what am I going to say, to bring comfort and hope to you all today. For Nadine, Doug, Jana, and Julie, it’s been quite a past few weeks for you, as you sat back helplessly and watched your husband, your dad, who had been such a model of health and strength throughout most of his life, to start having problems getting around, and then, to hear the diagnosis that no one wants to hear, Cancer. Many doctors simply refer to it as “the enemy”, and it’s a pretty accurate description. In such a short amount of time, that brain tumor took a seemingly healthy, active man, and robbed him of his ability to walk, to move his arm, and in his last few hours, even his ability to speak. It was relentless, and it not only took its toll on LeRoy, but also on his beloved bride, Nadine, his three wonderful children, his grandchildren, and other family and friends. It was, in a lot of ways, a bully, who not only tormented LeRoy, but also those who loved him. In the midst of all of this, what is a Pastor to say? There are no words that I can offer here today that will bring LeRoy back, or reverse the cancer, no matter how much I wish I could do that for you. But, what I can share with you are words that are so much better than anything I could come up with on my own. Today, my task is to provide you comfort and strength from the only place you can find it, from God’s Word.
The words of our sermon text from Luke 2 were first spoken by a man named Simeon. We don’t really know a whole lot about this guy, he’s what I would call a “man of mystery”. We don’t hear about him in the Bible up to this point. Was he an old man, or was he still working on a full beard? Has he had a good life, or has he struggled quite a bit? Is he married, or single? Is he in perfect health, or does he have a hard time getting around? We don’t know, the Bible doesn’t tell us these things. We’re told his name is Simeon, and he’s waiting for the consolation of Israel, in other words, he’s waiting for the Messiah. It’s 40 days since the birth of Christ, as we’re told that Mary and Joseph and the infant Jesus have made their way to Jerusalem and the temple, where Mary was to undergo the rite of purification and Jesus was to be presented in the temple, as he was the firstborn son. Somehow, the Holy Spirit tells Simeon that this little baby in the midst of everything that goes on in the temple, is the promised Messiah. We’re told Simeon goes into the temple courts, takes the baby Jesus into his arms, and sings a song of praise to God. He sings: “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” Simeon, being in the presence and seeing with his own eyes the promised Messiah, now declares that he can go in peace, as God has fulfilled his promise of a Savior, and his promise to Simeon that he would someday see the Savior. After blessing this family, and sharing with Mary what would happen to her son, Simeon quietly, yet quickly, disappears from the pages of Scripture just as quickly as he had appeared. What happened to him after this, did he die right away, or did he live several more years? Again, we don’t know, but what we do know, is that God fulfilled His promises to Simeon.