Sunday, May 24, 2015

Funeral Sermon for Ryan Willweber: "The Road Home"

+ In Memoriam - RyanWillweber +
December 24th, 1997 - April 30th, 2015

Lamentations 3:22-33; Romans 8:31-39; John 14:1-6

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

Thomas said, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”

Jesus had told Thomas and the disciples repeatedly where he was going. But they still didn’t understand that for Jesus, the road home goes through the cross.

Jesus knew exactly where he was going. For not all who wander are lost. Jesus journeyed – through life, death and the grave – for Ryan, for you, and for all.

Jesus loaded his shoulders with the burden of our sin. He prepared himself to die in order to prepare a place for Ryan, and us, with him. Jesus walked up the mountain. Jesus, crucified on the cross. For you.

Our road home goes through Jesus’ cross. It’s a narrow passage with one door: Jesus’ cross. But it’s wide enough for all broken sinners. Jesus journeyed in life and death to save Ryan and you.

And in this, Ryan and Jesus have something in common. Both loved to travel. Ryan - with friends and family. Jesus - for the love of Ryan, and you, and the world – journeyed to the cross.

For Ryan there was always a new adventure, a new trail, or a new road to run down. Hiking, family vacations, countless miles in cross country.
For Ryan and for us, the road home is Jesus’ cross.

Ryan’s journey began on December 24th, 1997. The Willweber family celebrated two births that Christmas: One in Odessa, TX; the other in Bethlehem of Judea long ago. For unto us is born a Savior.

Ryan’s journey began again in Holy Baptism on January 18th, 1998, his second birthday. And the angels in heaven rejoiced as Ryan received the new birth from above by water, Word, and the Holy Spirit.

Ryan’s Baptism, like every Baptism, is a journey. Like Israel crossing the Red Sea, Jesus brings the baptized through the waters to the Promised Land. Baptism is our exodus. Baptism is our day of resurrection, just as it is for Ryan. Baptism buries us with Jesus, and raises us from the dead with Jesus.

And from Baptism through childhood, Ryan’s journey continued. He grew in wisdom and stature before God and man. He traversed the pages of Scripture at home and church. God’s Word was a lamp to Ryan’s feet here in the shadowlands, as it is for all read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest it.

Jesus’ Word is our life, even in death. For Jesus’ death is our life. This is Ryan’s Savior, and yours. Jesus died for Ryan’s sins, and yours.

As the road continued on, Ryan confessed this faith at confirmation, hearing God’s promises in Isaiah 41: Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

As Ryan continued to sojourn throughout life, Jesus fed and nourished him with holy food. This is My Body. This is My Blood. Given for you. Shed for you. Jesus journeyed to the cross so that when we journey to the Altar, Jesus’ body and blood are given to us, for the forgiveness of all our sins.

Through God’s medicines of mercy, He sustains us as He did Ryan, in this unmerciful world.
For we live in the shadowlands, where, in the words of Bilbo Baggins, it’s a dangerous business, going out your front door.

We’re pilgrims in this broken world of car accidents and death; and we are broken by life in this world. Some wounds doctors can fix; others, only the wounds of Jesus our Great Physician can heal. We suffer. We grieve. We know tragedy. We journey under the cross.

But we do not walk alone.

We go in the peace of Jesus. And I will not say: do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.
We weep to God who wept for us, as one of us. We lament to God who made our sorrows and Ryan’s his own. We grieve before God who has taken Ryan’s death – and ours - upon himself in His death on the cross.

Today we might think that Ryan’s journey has ended. But we would be wrong.

For we have Jesus’ words of comfort from the end of the road.

Let not your hearts be troubled. 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 and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

Our road home goes through Jesus’ cross. And it continues on the other side of the grave. In my Father’s house are many rooms. And each one of them with a view of the Lamb who was slain for us.

And though we cannot wrap our children with an invisibility cloak as they head out the door, or take their suffering and death upon ourselves, there is one who can. Jesus has for you.
Jesus’ death destroyed Death. Jesus is risen. Risen for Ryan. Risen for you.

Jesus has taken the road home head of us, and for us. And if God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

We grieve, but not without hope. Hope such as we hear in a travel song from one of Ryan’s favorite books.

The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
Let others follow it who can!
Let them a journey new begin,
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.

Let not your hearts be troubled. Hope in Jesus. For in him we rejoice. Ryan is home. He is with Jesus in the undying lands. And through our tears we glimpse our heavenly home on the horizon. And we wait with Ryan, for the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting – that great, eternal homecoming with Jesus.

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

 Let us pray:
Our journey be with God today,
His holy angels lead the way,
Just as He led from Egypt land,
God’s people held in Pharaoh’s hand.
Have mercy, Lord!

Lord Jesus Christ, You are the Way,
The Truth, the Life, our hope and stay.
You follow us where e’er we roam,
You shed Your blood to bring us home.
Have mercy, Lord!

So then no storm or rising tide,
Can ever keep us from Your side.
If You a helping hand will lend,
With joy we’ll reach our journey’s end.
Have mercy, Lord!

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