Funeral (General)

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Introduction

Love. Lessons. Loss.
We all experience loss but nothing every truly prepares you for the loss itself, especially with someone that you love. In this life of challenges and confusion we’re looking for something to provide us with direction and hope but moments like these can make that hope seem like a pipe dream. Our world looks at life as though the fundamental goal is to get what we can, can what we get, and sit on the can until we can’t anymore. In the good days, maybe this seems like a good plan but what about in our suffering? What about when we can’t even think about what to do next? Where do we go from here? Elizabeth Elliot, following the loss of her husband Jim, shared this Poem entitled Do the Next Thing, “Do it immediately, do it with prayer, do it reliantly, casting all care. Do it with reverence, tracing His hand who placed it before thee with earnest command. Stayed on omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing, leave all resultings, do the next thing.”
What do we do today? Today we focus on love, lessons and loss.
We cherish the love. We remember the lessons. We grieve during the loss. Yet, God makes a way as we do the next thing!
What is the next thing? Today it is a funeral but this funeral isn’t doom and gloom - this is also a time of celebration because Avella knew Jesus.
Thomas Watson once said for the Christian, “Death is the funeral of all our sorrows.” See, if you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and if you have repented of your sins and placed your faith in Jesus, death is not the enemy. In fact in the life of the Christian, death isn’t something that we avoid talking about because death brings about something good, not bad. Death is the conclusion of this life and the beginning of our eternal life. For the person who belongs to Jesus, death marks the end of sorrow and the beginning of eternal celebration. While we grieve on this side and will continue to do so in the days to come, we have hope that our loved one is in a better place. How can we have this type of hope? Does this sound too good to be true? Is this just something that people made up years ago in order to make themselves feel better? Or, is this based on something more. Something true. Something life changing?
The Bible shares with us some glorious truths concerning love, lessons, and loss. This morning I want to look at 2 passages of Scripture as we grieve together and look for comfort in the only place that will never fail us: God’s Word.
Psalm 23 CSB
A psalm of David. 1 The Lord is my shepherd; I have what I need. 2 He lets me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He renews my life; he leads me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.
This is a passage of Scripture that many of us are familiar with in some capacity. The 23rd Psalm is one that we hold on to in difficult moments of this life because we know that it promises us that God will provide and care for us. This is the reminder that we all need in moments like this: He leads me, He renews me, He is with me, He will save me. I always love sharing this at Christian funerals and I can’t do this at a funeral of a non-Christian. In Toy Story, you have all of the various toys that play together whenever no one is around and they do some pretty remarkable things. The thing that always stands out in those films, though, is that they are united not by their external looks or affiliations, but by what is written on their foot. See, the owner of the toys put his name on each one of them so that if they ever got lost, they’d know who they belonged to. In the life of a Christian, God has stamped His seal on His people and we know this is true by the presence of the Holy Spirit in their life. The Lord is our owner - He is our shepherd. We have all that we could ever need. Avella belonged to Jesus not because she knew all the answers but because she knew that she was in need of a perfect shepherd. She knew that Jesus saves sinful sheep. She had His name on her foot.
If you are here today and you do not belong to Jesus, she would want you to know the peace that only Jesus can bring to your life as Psalm 23 shares with us. She would want you to know that even in the valley of the shadow of death, God promises to walk with you.
A father was driving with his daughter one day and a semi-truck pulled beside them and the father asked his daughter, “Would you rather get hit by that truck or by its shadow?” The daughter said the obvious: The shadow! See, Jesus Christ was hit by the truck of sin and death so that you and I only get hit by its shadow. The shadow makes things hard. It makes it hard to see what God is doing. But Jesus promises to still be with us and He has already taken the big blow in our place.
1 Corinthians 15:54–58 CSB
54 When this corruptible body is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: Death has been swallowed up in victory. 55 Where, death, is your victory? Where, death, is your sting? 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
We grieve this morning - but we don’t grieve as those who do not have any hope. We grieve as those who do have hope because death is not the end. Because of Jesus Christ and His substitutionary death in the place of His followers, we no longer have to fear death. It no longer has any sting! Jesus has won the victory for His people for all eternity.
Where do we go from here? There is hope in Jesus and Avella is experiencing His presence today. She is worshiping Him and she is free from suffering and pain. Do you know Jesus? Has He changed your life? Today we remember the love and lessons we learned and we also experience loss. In the days to come lessons will come to mind - use those times to pray and give God thanks for the sweet memories you have with your mother, grandmother, and friend. Loss is real - but the hope found in Christ will carry you through.
Let’s pray
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