Saturday, July 2, 2016

Funeral Sermon for Edwin Anderson: "Jesus is the Bread of Life"

+ In Memoriam: Edwin Anderson – September 28th, 1939 - June 28th, 2016 +
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Isaiah 61:1-3; Romans 8:31-39; John 6:27-40

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

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

If ever there was a fitting verse someone who spent a good part of his life working in a grocery store, this is it. Edwin knew a lot about bread.

Ed worked hard in his labor of love to provide daily bread for his wife, Sharon. He prayed to the Lord with his family and for his family: Give us this day, our daily bread. In his years at the grocery store he shelved, bagged, bought, and managed the bread and everything else that people needed for this body and life. And like any good Lutheran, he also enjoyed the occasional can of liquid bread.

Jesus knows a little something about bread too. As the crowds are gathered listening to Jesus’ preaching, Jesus reminds us that for all the blessings it is for our bodies, for all the vocations God employs to give us our daily bread, there’s one major problem with bread. Bread is food of the fall.

Recall God’s words to Adam in Genesis 3:

Cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.

East of Eden, bread takes work – even the ground is cursed. And so, seeds are sown. The farmer harvests. The miller grinds. The baker bakes. The truck delivers. The shelves are stocked. The grocer sells. Then we buy and eat. This is how God gives us our daily bread, a process Ed was quite familiar with. And yet, Jesus reminds us that the very bread that sustains us is also a sign of our mortality.

Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.

Even the best bread molds and decays. It fills us one moment, and leaves us hungry the next. Bread comes from the earth and feeds our bodies which will one day return to the earth.

And so, today, as we mourn the death of Ed, a loving husband, father, grandfather, neighbor, friend, and brother in Christ, we might be tempted to think that the bread of death is all we have to eat, that all our work on this fallen earth is pointless, and that the grave gets the last word. But we would be wrong.

Yes, God’s gifts of daily bread in this life are temporary and will fade away. And so Jesus calls us to something that will never rot, decay, or pass away: his Word and promise. His life lived for you. His death for Ed, for you, and for all.

Yes, we hunger in this life, and yet God richly provides all that we need for this body and life, out of fatherly divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in us. Ed knew this too. It is by grace we are saved; and by grace we are given daily bread.

Yes, Moses and the children of Israel ate manna in the wilderness and they died. And so will we.

But here’s the good news. So did Jesus.

By the sweat and blood of his brow, Jesus labored under the weight of our sin for Ed and for you; he suffered and wrestled with thistle and thorn on the cross for Ed and for you. And then he returned to the dust of the earth for Ed and for you. Jesus swallowed Adam’s bread of death in order to give you the Living Bread of his flesh and raise you to life.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

Jesus rose again from the dead. And that means Ed is not alone. Neither are you. Ed is with Jesus. And Jesus is with you. And together, with Ed and all the faithful departed, we await the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting.  

But even now, Jesus doesn’t leave us hungry; in the Lord’s Supper, Jesus takes the food of the Fall, fills it with his death and resurrection, and turns it into a feast of forgiveness for you. In Jesus’ flesh we have bread that brings immortality, holy food that sustains us on our pilgrimage home. Jesus’ body is true food that will never perish, and in eating and drinking his body and blood, he guarantees that you will never perish either.

“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. Jesus is Edwin’s bread of life. Jesus is your bread of life.
For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.  For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
 "Lord, give us this bread always.”

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

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