Sunday, November 3, 2013

Funeral Sermon: In Memoriam - Robert Sepke

+ In Memoriam – Robert Charles Sepke - July 5, 1933 – September 18, 2013 +
Job 19:23-27
Revelation 21:1-7, 22-27
John 14:1-6
“The Song of Heaven”

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

You can tell a lot about a person by what kind of music they listen to, or in Bob’s case, the music he also sang with joyful gusto. Whether it was a hearty, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at a Tiger’s game, a quiet evening around the house with family, whether he was in the choir loft or the pew – Bob loved singing.

The kind of music people sing also tells us what they believe. Music is a confession that turns our mouths into trumpets, announcing our Christian faith for all to hear. So it was for Bob. He loved to sing because the Lord had given him the lyrics. Bob rejoiced with the words of Psalm 51: “O Lord, open my lips; and my mouth will declare Your praise.”

And so Bob started singing from the day he was baptized…and he never stopped. In the waters of Holy Baptism, he rejoiced with Isaiah, “The Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2). 

As Bob learned later on in confirmation class – and as we hear in the Scriptures –he wasn’t the only one singing. To the naked eye, Bob’s Baptism looked just like any other Baptism: a baby, ordinary water, and God’s word declared. But from God’s perspective there was a great miracle taking place. The Triune God was busy orchestrating the gift of faith in Bob – just as He is did for all who are Baptized. 

In those waters, Christ composed a masterpiece of salvation to forgive Bob’s and your sin. And just like Bob, you come out of those waters a different person. In Holy Baptism, the Holy Spirit breathes new life in and a new song into the hearts of his people.

That’s why Bob sang with great mirth. Christ redeemed him. Christ made him is own dear child in Baptism. Christ opened his lips to declare his praise. So, the joy in his singing – just as the joy in that infectious smile he so memorably wore – was really the joy of his faith in Christ. 

And that was who Bob loved to sing about most of all – not himself – but Christ Crucified and Risen. Not about what a great person Bob was but about the great Savior that Jesus is for Bob. And for you.

For Bob had heard the Scriptures and knew there was no song he could sing boasting in himself. He sang the Amen right along with the rest of us when we confessed our sins. That’s the truth about Bob and about us. We’re sinners. And the only song sinners can sing is, “Lord, have mercy.”

And today we might be tempted to think that death has silenced Bob’s voice, that death gets the last word. We may even be tempted to question or doubt Christ’s promises about resurrection from the dead – his, Bob’s ours.  But we would be wrong. 

For Bob knew there was someone greater than his sin and death. Christ Jesus our Lord, who took Bob’s sin, and yours, and mine – and a whole world full of sin – onto himself on the cross. Bob knew and heard and believed what our Lord says to us today: “I am the resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.”

Now there’s a reason to sing! That’s why Bob sang. That’s why we sing. 

For today, Christ turns our song of mourning into a hymn of consolation and eternal joy. Today the voice of the angels echo in Jesus’ empty tomb: “Christ is not here. His is risen.”

Today, the voice of Christ trumpets from his vacant grave:  “Let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again so that where I am you may be also.” 

Today we join Job in singing: “I know that my Redeemer lives!” 

And because Christ lives so does Bob. And because Christ died, and rose and lives…so will you. You will die, you will rise again, and you will live with Christ. Christ is our way, our truth and our life. For now, Bob rests from his labors, asleep in Jesus, and he awaits with us and the whole church – in heaven and on earth - the resurrection of the dead.

And what a day that will be. You think singing is great here on earth, just wait until the dawn of resurrection day when tombstones start flying off the ground like popped champagne bottles and the trumpets of Christ fill the air and the dead in Christ will rise from their graves with a boisterous Alleluia! 

But the song of heaven isn’t some faint sound off in the distance. Every Sunday heaven comes to earth here in this place – the same place where Bob  and all Christ’s people receive Christ’s Words, Christ’s promises, Christ’s Supper. Here our voices join with Bob and all the saints in heaven and on earth as we sing with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven.

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God.

May the song of heaven fill you with consolation now and forevermore.

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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