Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Funeral Sermon for Thomas Legerton: "God's Gift"

+ In Memoriam – Thomas Legerton, May 29, 1956 – March 8, 2015 +
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Isaiah 25:6-9; Ephesians 2:1-10; John 14:1-7

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

Easter was Tom’s favorite season of the church year. And for good reason. Trumpets blaring. Joyous singing. Shouting loud Alleluias! Everything about Easter proclaims God’s gift to us: Jesus Crucified and risen for you. Christmas gets all the attention for gift-giving. But let’s not forget Easter. The Father gave us his Son, wrapped in our humanity. The Son gave his life for us, wrapped in our sin, to save us from death.  And on that first Easter Sunday, the stone was rolled away, unwrapped like a great big present, revealing an empty tomb. Christ is risen for you! 

Therefore, let not your hearts be troubled. Death could not hold Jesus in the grave, and it won’t hold Tom either. Today, even amidst our grief and tears, God’s gift of Easter gives us joy beyond the grave.

For giving is what God does best.

God gave Tom many gifts in his earthly life, in fact far more than we could recount. Wherever God called him to serve – whether in his daily vocation as a rocket scientist, serving his country or community, or at home – his loyalty, kindness, and compassion were instantly known and not soon forgotten.

Tom was a gift to many of us as well. Certainly at work, but especially at home with Wendy,  – reading Scripture together, praying, and caring for his family as a head of house is called to do. When people asked about their marriage, Tom and Wendy simply replied, “It’s not that we had the perfect marriage, but that we’re perfect in Christ.” No wonder they repeatedly told each other: “You were God’s gift to me.”

Tom gave to others as he received from Christ. He heard God’s Word. He spoke God’s Word. Tom’s sin was washed away in Baptism. He made sure Wendy and his children received Christ’s gift of washing and renewal by the Holy Spirit. Tom received free remission of sins in the Lord’s Supper faithfully, and rejoiced that his family did too. God gave and Tom received.

And that’s pretty much the Christian life in a nutshell. God gives. We receive. God saves. We thank, praise, and serve. God gives us free forgiveness. And we freely forgive and love others.
As good as God’s gifts to Tom in his earthly life were, God abounds all the more in giving his gifts of life and salvation to all.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Faith, life, and salvation in Christ – these are all God’s gracious gifts. They have to be given, for there is no other way. We confess, as Tom did weekly, that St. Paul’s words are true of all us: we are dead in trespasses and sin. And apart from Christ, we seek only our own way, our own truth, and our own life. The wages of our sin is death.

But Tom also knew that the God’s gifts to us in Christ Crucified and risen are greater than our sin. For Jesus’ death on the cross is a greater payment that cancels out the wages of our sin. And though we were dead in trespasses and sin, God made us alive together in Christ – by grace you are saved. Tom knew that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life for you. And by grace, Jesus will raise us from the dead too as well.

For the greatest gifts of all are the ones Christ freely gives to each of us.

The gift of faith in Jesus who died in our place, who paid the penalty of sin – Tom’s, yours, and mine, who destroyed the power of death, and who rose again three days later.
The gift of holy Baptism where Jesus unites you with his death and resurrection. Where Jesus goes, you go. Jesus died in our place so that in Baptism, Tom and all who are baptized, die with Jesus. Jesus rose from the grave so that in Baptism, Tom and all the baptized, rise with Jesus too.

The gift of the Lord’s Supper, where Jesus brings his crucified and risen body and blood, places it in bread and wine and forgives our sin. Where Jesus brings heaven on earth as we worship with angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven.

So today, even in the face of death, we look forward to the day of resurrection. We look forward to seeing the lids of our graves shoot in the air like a rocket. We look forward to God’s gift of the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. The grave could not hold Jesus. And because of Christ’s death in your place, death cannot hold Tom or you either.
And that’s God’s greatest gift of all, for all: eternal life in Christ, which, to Tom’s delight, and ours, is one blessed eternal Easter service. An endless Easter season. Trumpets blaring. Joyous Singing. Alleluias without end. No more death. No more tears. Only God’s gifts. For the Lord Jesus has swallowed up death forever, for Tom and for you, and for all.

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

1 comment:

  1. Thank you pastor you truly provided a sermon that was a gift from God. Tom was so humble, he would never had believed the amazing turnout and your amazing words. Thank you again. God Bless...Wendy Legerton