Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Funeral Sermon for Jane Taylor: "Christ Our Servant"

+ In Memoriam: Jane Taylor, September 4, 1933 – April 10, 2015 +

Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Job 19:21-27; 1 Corinthians 15:51-57; John 11:27-27

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

As long as I’ve known Jane she’s been one of our Lord’s beloved, baptized saints of whom he speaks in Mark 10:

Whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.  And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.

Whenever someone would ask, Jane would be there to help: at church with the altar guild, at home with her family, with her friends and neighbors, and especially in her 50 years of nursing – a true labor of sacrificial love and service for others.

Whenever Jane was there to help, she didn’t call a press conference. She just did what had to be done. Jane was a quiet, humble servant. And though the world looks down upon this kind of sacrificial service, Jesus says it is the greatest of all to be a servant.

Jane’s life in Christ is a joyous reminder that greatness in the kingdom of God isn’t counted by looking at one’s own greatness, but rather to the greatest servant of all, our Lord Jesus Christ,

Who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

We could spend this afternoon, and many more afternoons, talking about the many and various ways Jane loved, cared for, and served others. But I think she would have a thing or two to say to me when we meet again in the resurrection. After all, Jane didn’t like spending a whole lot of time talking about herself. She would rather us hear Jesus’ promises. So that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

Today we hear our Lord’s Word of life that give us hope and consolation, even as we mourn the death of our dear sister in Christ. For the same Lord who made Jane such a humble servant was himself the greatest servant of all in our place. Jesus, our Great Physician gave his life for Jane and for and for all, to heal, forgive, and rescue us.

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

On September 24th, 1933, when Jane was baptized, Jesus gave his life as a ransom for Jane in the waters of Holy Baptism. This is why Jane, and all who are baptized, are baptized in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit – God’s name, not our own. We were born in sin. Jesus gives us new birth and new life. Our name was sinner. Jesus gives us a new name: saint, holy, God’s own child. Our first birth leads to death. Our second birth by water and the Spirit wells up with eternal life.

For Jane, and for you, the baptized, Holy Baptism is also your death and resurrection. Jesus drowns our sin, and Jesus raises us to new life. In Holy Baptism Jesus is your resurrection and your life - on the day of your Baptism and every day, even into eternity. For one day, just as he did for Lazarus, Jesus will call us forth from the grave: “Arise; come out. Live.”

On July 1st, 1949, when Jane stood before the congregation and confessed the Christian faith at her confirmation, she joined a countless throng of faithful Christians – saints like Job and Paul – confessing her faith in Christ our servant. Our Lord opened her mouth to confess his saving name. And our Lord opened her mouth to fill it with his promises. Jesus served Jane that same day with his own body and blood. Jesus, who is our resurrection and our life, serves us the life-giving fruit of his death and resurrection in the Lord’s Supper.

You see, Christ our Savior is also Christ our servant. And the good work that our Lord began in Jane at holy baptism, continued throughout her life, bearing fruit in her love and service to others, calling her again and again to receive Christ’s divine service for her. Week after week she heard the declaration: “I forgive you all your sins in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Week after week Jesus served her with his medicine of immortality. Week after week Jesus served up a giant serving of his Word and promises. 

Words like we hear from Job today:

“Oh that my words were written!
    Oh that they were inscribed in a book!
Oh that with an iron pen and lead
    they were engraved in the rock forever!
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,”

Words like we hear from St. Paul today:

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.  For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 

Words like we hear from Jesus today:

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.

Are there any better words to live, or die by? No, for these are the words of eternal life…for Jane and for you.

Even in death Jesus is our servant. Jesus gave his life for Jane and for you. Jesus rested in the tomb for Jane and for you. Jesus hallowed the graves of all believers. Jesus rose from the dead for Jane and for you. And in Jesus’ resurrection, we see the promise of our own. For one day, Jane and you and I will be raised from the dead too.

“Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment