Thursday, November 10, 2005

John 14.27, Funeral for Dr. Bill Baum

Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

When I asked Karla, if there was a special text she’d like me to preach on today, she chose these words of Jesus.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27 (ESV)

It’s a good text for today, because that’s exactly what we need today, peace. As we sit here today looking death in the face, we need peace. We need peace to enable us to go on with our lives; peace to live in our community, peace that Jesus promises in these beautiful words. So it is good to look at Jesus words of peace today.

But I wonder today especially, especially on a day like today: Where is the peace? Where’s the peace for a community that wonders if this is the beginning of a string of business closings that will leave us just like so many other small communities in the state. One more business gone, one more building vacant and ready to be set to the bulldozer. Where’s the peace for our community?

Where is the peace for a congregation that looses such a young member? I have to admit that even though I’ve done quite a few funerals, this is the first for someone younger than I am. Where is the peace for a congregation when we wonder if this is yet another sign that we’ll eventually be closing our doors because we’ve just gotten too old? Where is the peace for our church?

But the question we ask specifically on a day like today is: Where is the peace for a family that has lost what you have lost? Where is there peace when you have lost all the promise of young love and marriage, children, grandchildren, growing old together? Where’s the peace for hearts that ache as yours are aching today? Where’s the peace for parents who should never out live there children, for a sister and brother who’s lives won’t ever be quite the same? Where is peace when we are angry with God for allowing Bill to be taken away from us in this way? Where is the peace… for you?

And where is the peace for us individually as we sit here today, knowing that for our lives will all end just as Bill’s did? That no matter what we do no matter how good we are, no matter humble and hard working, even if we live to be over a hundred years old, death will come for us, and our family and friends will gather around us, just as we have gathered here today. Where is the peace for us all today as we stand at the edge of the grave peering in?

Well, Jesus tells us where the peace that we need today is to be found. He gives it and it’s not like the peace that the world around us would give to us. He said, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. The world would have us look at everything that Bill did. His accomplishments, his activities, how much he was loved, and as much as those were all good things in Bill’s life, as much as you have all been blessed by these things, they still have come to and end. Nothing Bill did could prevent bringing us here today. I think Karla said it best, “He should be up running around with me!” No if we want real lasting peace we have to look somewhere else. We have to look for the peace that Jesus gives. His peace. And that’s exactly why we have come together today right here in this place, to hear about Jesus, and have the peace that only Jesus can give.

I didn’t know Bill, I never met him, I never spoke with him, never saw him take a breath, and yet I’ll sure I’ll meet him one day, not because he was a great guy, but because of his faith in Jesus. As I said I don’t know Bill so there’s not a lot I can tell you about him. Pastor Hinkley will make some of those connections for you, along with telling you about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection for Bill. But that doesn’t really matter because there’s really only one thing I know about Bill that’s really going to bring you peace today, and we already all spoken it together.

P In Holy Baptism Bill was clothed with the robe of Christ's righteousness that covered all his sin. St. Paul says: “Do you not know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?”

C 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.

That’s Jesus’ promise to Bill. That’s Jesus’ promise to you and me. It tells us that even though sin brings us here, even though sin brought Bill here, Bill was united with Jesus in Jesus’ death through baptism, so Bill is also united with Jesus in Jesus’ resurrection. Bill had faith in Jesus. Bill knew that His death on the cross covered his sins, and took the sting out of death. And because Bill had Bill had faith in Jesus, He believed in Jesus promise to bring his body back to life again.

I know a group of people who were feeling just like you and I are feeling today. They were huddled together, afraid, tired, angry, and mourning the all too early death of a friend, a son, a brother. Jesus had been crucified. They saw the whole bloody affair. He was dead and in the grave three days. What they really need is the peace that Jesus promised to give them. And just as they were wondering where they would find that peace, Jesus appears and stands right in the middle of them, even though they are in locked room. And what is the first thing Jesus says to them, “Peace be with you!” Peace, because he is alive even though he had been dead; Peace, because he takes death and wrings out all of its power to hold us; Peace, because He proved that he is stronger than death; Peace because he has taken sin’s punishment and the treat of hell and done away with them by dying and rising again; Peace because His resurrection is a promise to us that he can and will bring us out of death to life again. That’s the promise of Baptism. That’s God’s promise, made to Bill in his baptism. And it is only God’s promises made to us through Jesus that can give us peace on a day like today.

And so tomorrow when you go to Lebanon (South Dakota) to commit Bill’s body to the ground, it is in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our bodies, he will change Bill’s body, to be like His glorious body.

That means Karla, that he will be up and running around with you again. And that’s where we find peace today. Amen.

The peace that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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