Monday, July 18, 2016

Funeral Sermon for Cliff Bril: "The Lord's Servant"

+ In Memoriam: Cliff Bril – April 30th, 1920 – July 8th, 2016 +
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Isaiah 43:1-3; 2 Timothy 4:6-8; Luke 2:25-32

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

Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word.

Simeon the priest was in the temple as he sung these words, serving God, serving others. That was his calling. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Christ, the Messiah and Savior that YHWH had promised long ago. And there he was in the flesh. In Simeon’s arms. 

Here was the infant Priest foreshadowed by all the Old Testament priests. 

Here was the consolation of Israel cuddled in his aged arms. 

Here was the Lord of all who became the Servant of all for Simeon, for Cliff, and for you.

At that moment, God’s word had been fulfilled.

At that moment, Simeon saw his salvation and Cliff’s and yours in those wiggly infant arms and legs that would one day be fixed to the cross, where the infant priest would make the ultimate sacrifice.

At that moment, Simeon was ready to depart in peace. He was ready to die. The Lord was faithful. The Lord kept his promise.

The more I read Luke 2 in preparing for today’s service, the more I noticed how much Cliff has in common with Simeon.

Like Simeon, Cliff rejoiced in being here in the Lord’s temple where the Lord of all is still the Servant of all: proclaiming his promises for Cliff and us; calling us by name in Holy Baptism, as he did for Cliff; and beholding the Lord’s salvation of hidden in humble bread and wine for the forgiveness of his sins.

Like Simeon, Cliff was ready to die in peace. Like Simeon, he knew he was a sinner, but that Jesus is the savior and rescuer of sinners. He knew it was time to be with the Lord. But of course, we were not ready for him to depart. And so we are grieved. We weep. We mourn. And yet, the prophet Isaiah speaks words of comfort to us Thus says the Lord, Fear not; I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

And like Simeon, Cliff was the Lord’s Servant. He served as a faithful husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather. He served as a faithful member of this congregation in fervent prayer, love for others in his gracious compliments, and joyfully receiving God’s gifts week after week.

Yes, one of Cliff’s greatest joys was serving others. That’s why he was proud of his time in the Army. He drove supply trucks, built airfields, and even warned his fellow soldiers of a German breakthrough in the Ardennes, boots in hand and socks on his feet.

But don’t think that this is all about Cliff. He wouldn’t want that kind of attention on himself. That, by the way, is another mark of a servant; counting others as more important than yourself.

To paraphrase Isaiah, Cliff knew that when he passed through the waters of Omaha beach behind the wheel of a supply truck, the Lord was with him. He knew that when he was waded through the rivers and forests of France, the Lord was with him. He knew that even though he was surrounded by the thunderous fire of German tanks, the Lord was with him. Cliff knew that whether he was half way across the world in the war, or at home or church next to family, the Lord was with him, just as he was with Simeon.

Cliff knew all this because he knew what Simeon knew…that it was also Jesus’ greatest joy to serve others, to count others as more valuable, more precious than himself, even to the point of laying down his life on the cross for Cliff and for you.

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

This is why Simeon held Jesus that day in the temple. The Lord’s servant had come at last. The Priest and sacrifice had entered the temple. God’s Word was fulfilled. The Lord of all became a servant of all for Simeon, for Cliff, and for you.

Simeon was ready to die in peace because he knew that Jesus had come to in order to bring about that peace. Peace through his death on the cross for Cliff and for you. Jesus fought the good fight against sin and death for Cliff and for you.

Jesus let the torrent waters of judgment overwhelm him so that you would pass through safely to the other side.

Jesus walked up the hill of Calvary to the cross, endured the scorching heat of God’s wrath over sin all so that we would not be consumed.

Jesus is the Lord’s Servant, in death and in life. And he continues to serve us as he did Simeon and Cliff, throughout life, and even through the grave to eternal life. That’s the hope that Simeon and Cliff point us to: The Lord is faithful. Jesus keeps his promises. Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.

With Simeon and Cliff, we long to see, hope for, and love the Lord’s appearing, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. And we join Simeon and Cliff in confessing: Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to Your word.

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

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