Monday, November 28, 2016

Funeral Sermon for Carol Sheehan: "At Home in the Cross"

+ In Memoriam: Carol Sheehan – November 9th, 1942 – September 24th 2016 +
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Isaiah 40:1-11; Revelation 7:9-17; John 6:27-51

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

“There’s no place like home,” Dorothy reminds us in the Wizard of OZ. “Home is where the rump rests,” so says the jovial Whinnie the Pooh. “The ache for home lives in us all”, wrote Maya Angelou.

Home was important to Carol. And as I got to know Carol I discovered that she had three homes.

There was her home in Connecticut, which you can see from the bulletin cover is beautiful, Edenic even. Looking out over the lake you catch a glimpse of the new heavens and the new earth and the resurrection light on the Eastern horizon. She made a home there with her husband David. God blessed their home with the birth of their daughter, Karen.

There was also her home at Prince of Peace Lutheran in Coventry. As she sang in choir, rejoiced in worship, served in many ways, and received the Lord’s Supper, she joined Jacob in declaring: “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it…How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” (Genesis 28:16-17).

Even when she moved from away from home in Connecticut to California, the house of the Lord remained Carol’s home. Not a conversation went by where she didn’t echo the words of the Psalm: I was glad when they said unto me, let us go up to the house of the Lord (Psalm 122:1).

If the sparrows and swallows find a nest and home at the altar of the Lord, how much more then, does he give us a home at the altar where Jesus feeds, nourishes, and strengthens us in our journey to our heavenly home with his very body and blood for us. Here is where Jesus dwelled with Carol and for her, just as he dwells with us and for us. In forgiveness. In Mercy. In peace. In his steadfast love for Carol and for you.

How lovely is your dwelling place,
   Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
   for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
   for the living God.
Better is one day in your courts
   than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
   than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

Today we join the Psalmist in yearning and longing for the house of the Lord. According to God’s promise we are waiting for the new heavens and a new earth, the home of righteousness (2 Peter 3:13).

And while we rejoice that Carol now rests from her labors, we also mourn because our earthly homes are anything but Edenic. Along with the rest of creation, we groan in expectation of what is to be revealed. We feel the foul breath of the serpent breathing his poisonous lies into our hearts and minds. We see our fallen earthly tents wasting away. Change and decay in all around I see, Come, friend of sinners, thus abide with me.

That’s what Jesus does best. Jesus came to make his home with sinners like Matthew, Zaccheus, Carol, you, and me – so that we will have an eternal home with him. For while we were still sinners, Christ died for Carol, for you, and for all.

And here’s where we find Carol’s third home, in the cross of Jesus. The birds of the air have nests, foxes have holes in the ground, but the Son of Man had nowhere to lay his head, save the cross and the tomb…all for you. In Jesus Crucified and risen, Carol you and me God gives us the inheritance, the sure and certain promise of the new heavens and the new earth where all of the former things – disease, darkness, despair, sin and death – will be no more. God will wipe them from our eyes as quickly and as surely as he said, “Let there be Light.” And it was so.

As beautiful as Carol’s home in rural Connecticut was, it is only a glimpse of a far better home in a far more glorious and joyous country. In Holy Baptism, Jesus washed Carol’s sins away, clothed her in Christ’s righteousness, and adopted her as the Father’s own dear child. God does the same for you in Holy Baptism, where he makes his home with us that we might have a home with him forever. Holy Baptism is our cross-shaped entrance into the Lord’s House, just as it was for Carol. In Holy Absolution we continually hear the Father’s welcome home: You are forgiven all your sins. In the Lord’s Supper we are brought to the banqueting table to celebrate the marriage supper of the Lamb – not as tourists or visitors, but as family, whose names are written, along with Carol on the family tree, the Lamb’s book of life.

This is what Jesus does best for Carol and for you. He dwells with sinners. After all, his Name is Emmanuel – God with us. God who is one of us. God who is for us in the cross. That’s what we sing as the season of Advent begins.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heav’nly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel!

Jesus is Carol’s Emmanuel and yours. God with us in our earthly home, all so that he will raise you up on the Last Day, along with Carol and all the faithful departed, and bring us to our heavenly home.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment