Saturday, May 30, 2015

Funeral Sermon for Jane Reynolds: "Jesus Makes All Things New"

+In Memoriam - Jane Reynolds+

October 3, 1957 – April 17, 2015
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Isaiah 65:17-25; Revelation 21:1-7; Luke 23:33-24:12

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

“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21)
St. John’s vision of heaven reminds us that God is the God who makes things. Maker of heaven and earth as we confess in the Apostles’ Creed.
God creates and sustains us – and all creation – out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in us. We are God’s handiwork, his creatures. And in turn, we create.
To be sure, our work of creation is much different. Though God has given us the gift of language, we cannot speak the words “Let there be light” and instantly turn on the sun.

And yet one of the great wonders of God’s creation is that he instilled in us that same joy of making things.

Jane shared in this love of creation. She spent many mornings tending her small, but mighty garden. Every time I would step into Jane’s living room I’d hear another story about the fine craftsmanship of one of her many antiques. She even loved to bake banana bread…though she couldn’t stand to eat it; so she gave it to her neighbors. And it was delicious.

All these little facts reveal a deeper truth. That Jane’s love of creation and making things, especially for others, can only come from one place – the love of God which is ours in Christ Jesus. We love because God first loved us. Jane loved because Jesus first loved her, and gave himself to die for her…and for you.

On days when she was feeling well it was the love of God in Christ which gave her such love for others. On days when she was sick or recovering from surgery or struggling with illness, there again, it was the love of Jesus our Great Physician sustaining her.

And this love of God in Jesus –his dying and rising for you - sustains us, just as it did Jane – for this life, and for eternal life.

In love, God created us. And in love he redeemed us. God makes us his children by water and word in Baptism, and calls us his own.

And so God is not distant from his creation. For He saw the kind of world we live in, what his creation had become.

How we live in a broken world of mourning, crying, and pain. Plants whither and decay. Even works of antique craftsmanship one day return to dust. Loved ones get sick. And eventually, we will die.

This is what sin does; it attempts to unmake God’s creation. It seeks to destroy what God called very good.

And so we pray the prayer that Jesus prayed for us, even as he died on the cross for us: Father forgive us, for we know not what we do. Jane prayed this prayer daily. Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.

This too is our prayer. Lord, have mercy.

And we pray, not to an absent God, but to the God who made man in his image…and who took on human flesh. The dwelling place of God is with man. God would not let his creation be destroyed.

So the Creator became a creature to save all of creation from the curse of sin and death.
The hands that formed the heavens and the earth are stretched out over the earth on the cross to save and redeem us, to make us God’s children.

Jesus was born to bear our sin and be our Savior – for Jane, and for you.

Jesus, the Son of God died, to make Jane, and all of us, children of God.

Jesus was led up to the cross. Jesus was crucified between two thieves. Jesus the innocent gave his life for the guilty. His garments were divided. He bore the mockery. He bore the scorn. He bore our sin. He carried our sorrows. He made our sin, pain, and death his own. He died in our place. He was laid to rest in the tomb. And three days later, Jesus rose from the dead.

This is how God goes about making all things new…for Jane…for you…for all.

Jesus’ promise to the thief on the cross is the same promise he utters to each of us in our Baptism, and declares it to us time and time again in his Word, just as he did for Jane:
Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.

This is the faith Jane lived in; this is the faith that sustained her even in death. And this is the faith that looks and hopes for the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting. That great day of resurrection when Jesus will say to Jane and all saints in Christ:

Behold, I make all things new. It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.  The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.

And so we rejoice in the God who makes us his children, just as he did for Jane, through Jesus who makes all things new. 

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

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