Monday, January 8, 2018

Sunday, January 7, 2018 Funeral Sermon for Patricia Ann Dennis

Title: At home with Jesus forever!
Text: John 14:3 (English Standard Version)

3And 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.

Dear friends, family and loved ones of our dear Patti.

I’m Pastor Russ Tkac of Pastor of Peace Lutheran Church of Waterford and I am blessed to be here and to be asked to celebrate Patti’s life with you today her dear family and friends.
As Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us:

3 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;

For Patti that time to be born was August 18, 1961 and her time to depart this life for her eternal home has now come. Though we all hope to hold our dear loved ones close and save them from this fate … it is appointed for each one of us to die and it is that one thing … that we will all achieve.

But in the Gospel text for today Jesus says:

1 "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2In 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? 3And 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. (John 14:1-3)

So though we grieve and are sad at Patti’s passing we can also have comfort as well. Jesus tells us that He has a place for us, and that included Patricia Ann Dennis, and that place with the Lord has been prepared for her and she has now taken possession of it.

Patti knew Jesus and trusted Christ.

Faith can take on many different looks. For some it is a pious life of service and attendance in church and for others it may be simple faith as small as a mustard seed that brings us to the Lord.

As Patti knew from her Christian upbringing at Peace Lutheran Church it is not - the things we do that make us acceptable in God’s eyes - our works do not save us - but it is our faith expressed in love of others that is a visible sign of what God has done in us and through us.

In John’s gospel:

Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" 6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:5-6)

Patti learned this in her Lutheran upbringing at Peace and she held to it throughout her life. Many years ago as I served as an Elder at the church and was calling those who were still on the membership rolls at Peace I talked with Patti on the phone where she lived in Virginia. I asked if she would like to transfer to a church in the area where she lived and she said no because she would be moving back to the area someday and wanted to stay connected to Peace.

Sadly I never got to meet her in this life but there is an eternal home that she has now possessed that we can all receive as a gift by grace through faith where we all can spend an eternity together.

As we grieve now though we can find comfort in God’s Hymn book the book of Psalms.

Psalm 4:8 (ESV)
8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

Psalm 27:1 (ESV)
27 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 31:5 (ESV)
5 Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.

Psalm 73:26 (ESV)
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Last Sunday the Gospel message was the story of Mary and Joseph bringing Jesus to the temple to make a sacrifice to the Lord of “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” And while there, to do as the Law required, they run into a old man named Simeon who we are told was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, or the comfort and peace of God and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.

27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”

The joy of seeing this child, this Jesus, brought to fulfillment for Simeon what the Lord by the Holy Spirit had promised, that he would not die until he had seen the Christ – the salvation of the world.

Sin and its brokenness, brings death.
That is what sin does.
We who are born in sin … will die.

Simeon had great joy in the Good News that a savior – this Christ child - would be the reconciliation and the peace of Israel. But this child would be not only Simeon’s peace but he is your peace and he is my peace and he was Patti’s peace too. We all can joy in the child that Simeon held because he has brought peace between God and man.

Patti received that peace of God when she was baptized and marked as one redeemed by Christ the crucified.

It is God alone who moves and brings to faith. It is through the means of grace of word and sacrament that God turns us from God’s enemies born in sin and makes us His children by faith through the working of the Holy Spirit.

Whether we have been blessed to be his child our whole lives like Patti or come to faith as we prepare to depart this life for the life eternal, the Lord of life has promised to give us all - the forgiveness and gift of eternal life - that Christ Jesus has earned. That is the blessed exchange. Christ takes your sin and gives you his righteousness.

The Holy Spirit continues to point you and me outside ourselves and death that await us all - to the open arms of the savior - Jesus Christ who is the way the truth and life not only for Patti but for all who believe.

You too have this home waiting for you. The blessed Good News that Jesus died for your sins is the wonderful Gospel message you can trust. Jesus has forgiven your sin and by the power of the Holy Spirit, in you, has given you the faith to believe in His saving work and a place prepared for you.

Because of his peace by faith we too, like Patti, have peace:

Remember the words of Jesus:

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)

That child, that babe, that brought Simeon great joy is your joy as well. In him true peace is found.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit!


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