Saturday, February 05, 2005

Funeral - Linda Smith (Name has been changed), Mark 4:35-41

Mark4v35-41 (NIV)
Funeral of Linda Smith (the name has been changed).
Jesus Calms the Storm

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Funerals are stormy events. Our families are torn apart by death, especially when it comes unexpectedly. You know, everything was fine with Linda when I visited her on Sunday. She looked good on Monday, but she died at lunch time on Tuesday. As the storm passes through we wonder if anything we could have / or should have done that would have made a difference. If only I’d been there! And the storm in our mind rages on. If only I’d gotten a chance to say that I loved her, one more time. If only I had visited again. Other things too add to the storm, like the pain of seeing little children who might not remember their great grandma. All these types of questions blow in with the storm of death. And we begin to wonder if we can bear up under the immense pressure of the storm. We feel like a tree blown and bent by the storm, ready to break. And it’s impossible to understand the storm until you have experienced it yourself.
Today we have gathered here, in the midst of the storm, to see what God has to say about the thing that causes the storm. Today we’ve gathered here, in the midst of the storm, to find comfort in one another, and comfort in the Good News about a Savior who has done something about the raging storm.
Linda had her share of storms, too these last few years. In and out of the hospital and doctor’s offices, rarely getting out of bed, dealing with the hoses that gave her the oxygen she needed. Thankfully now for her those storms are over. Those kind of stormy days are the farthest thing from her mind. She’s with Jesus. Thanking him for seeing her though them.
And we are left standing here in the wake of our own storm.
39 [Jesus] got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
More than anything else that is why we have gathered here today, to hear our Savior say to us “Quiet! Be still!” Just as the disciples cried out to him because they were facing death, “Master, don’t you care if we die?” We come to him here today saying, “Jesus, don’t you care that we are facing death?” and Jesus says to us too, “Quiet! Be still! I have calmed the storm of death.”
The disciples were often plagued with doubt and weak faith, even though they were there with Jesus, even though they had seen him at work everywhere they went. At the moment when death threatened them, they became afraid. Death brewed up a storm inside them. Yet when they looked at Jesus he seemed not to care, he was sleeping, calm and quiet. Finally, when they couldn’t stand the waves were lashing over the bow, and the picture of death each had in his own mind, they woke Jesus. And Jesus calmed the storms, first the storm on the lake, then the storms of the heart. “After all you’ve seen, do you still have trouble believing?”
“Yes Lord, we do!” we say as we look at this casket lying here in the front of the church, with the pain of separation that comes with loosing Linda. “Yes Lord, we do!” as we each try to come to grips with our own mortality; knowing that eventually we’ll all be here again. “Yes Lord, we do!” The storm rages in our hearts and in our minds because death is so personal. It shakes us to the core because it interrupts our lives and we wonder what can be done.
And Jesus calms the storm, “Quiet! Be still! I have conquered death. It has no power over you. After all you have seen and heard; when death threatens you remember that I have calmed the storm of death for you.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ; family and friends of Linda; Remember now, especially now as we again face death, that Jesus Christ has won the final victory over sin and death. Remember what he did for you and me, and what he did for Linda. Remember why he did it. It is because of this . Adam and Eve rejected God’s control over their lives, and you and I following in the footsteps of our ancestors do the same. Their sin is ours. It marches through our lives, generation after generation leaving the storm of death in its path. Sin brings death to each of us.
But Jesus has calmed the storm. He bore the awful consequences of sin himself. He suffered the storm at his own death. As he hung on the cross, the sky darkened, the storm rolled in and he suffered there for us. But that storm too, He calmed, “Quiet! Be still!... It is finished!” and he bowed his head in death. In his death he bore the eternal punishment for the sin of the whole world. All the sin and death and punishment were buried with him in the tomb. And just when it seemed that death had defeated him too, its power was already broken. Jesus Christ burst from death, and walked out to life again. The storms of death need not plague human beings ever again, because Jesus Christ has won the victory over them. Jesus give us his victory over death through faith that what he has done he has done for us. Whoever believes in him has that new life that he won there. Whoever believes in him can be comforted in the knowledge that he has calmed the storm.
We said it at the very beginning of the service.
We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with Him in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection.
Baptism is God’s promise to us that just as Jesus died and rose again, we too will come alive again after death. It’s not just a matter of wishful thinking. It’s some kind of spiritual walking on clouds. This body, your body, that body there in the casket, Jesus will give new life in a resurrection from death.
Family and friends of Linda: Jesus says to you today, “Quiet! Be still! Even though you still struggle with the storms of death, I have won the victory. Turn to me now when the storms of death threaten you.” Jesus calmed the storm when his disciples were afraid of death; Jesus calms our storms when we face death. Turn to him today. Listen to his calming words for you. Let him calm your storm. Amen.
Let us pray;
Gracious Lord Jesus, calm the storms in our hearts today as we grieve the loss of our sister in Christ, Judy. Keep us focused on you and what you have done for us through your life, death and resurrection. Help us to be quiet and still as you calm the storm. In Jesus Name we pray. Amen.
The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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