A Funeral Service – Sermon and Songs (Part 1/3)

In loving memory of the nine members of the John Esh family who dies in a tragic accident on March 26, 2010. Many lives were touched when eleven people were suddenly transported into the realm of eternity by means of a head-on collision. We call it a tragic accident in God’s eyes. We always has a purpose.

Johny Miller’s Funeral Message:

What is Life? What is Death?

I’d like to share a meditation this morning. What is death, and what is life? Looking at these eight caskets before us, the magnitude of what has happened leaves us awestruck. Intellectually we’ve accepted that fact that death has visited us in a mighty way. But where are our feelings? Where are our emotions as we walk through this? Where is the deep understanding of it? Where are we in this? What really is death? What is life?

These questions echo in our hearts and minds, and we struggle to understand. I think, in order to understand death, we must first understand life. We must get a picture of life from God’s perspective. And so I’d like to read how life began.

Genesis 2:7 says, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life: and man became a living soul.” God formed man from the dust of the ground. It is so simply put, and yet so profound that we cannot grasp it.  Can you imagine God, bending over, taking the dust of the ground that he had created, and actually forming it into a body?

The mind of God conceived the circulatory system, and the brain and all of its functions. God designed it! And there, in Genesis, we read of that body that God made. But it did not have life; it was inanimate.

Then God did something very personal. God bent over and breathed into that inanimate body. And when the Spirit of God was breathed into him, he became a living soul. We call that life.

So then, what is death? Death is the reverse of that process. And Ecclesiastes tells us that upon death, that dust shall return to the earth as it was.  You see, our bodies are made from the earth. We are earthly. Earthly things cannot enter heaven. So in order for us to enter heaven, we have to drop this earthly body. And we call that death.

We can’t fully understand death because we have never really experienced it. And yet the word of God tells us that the dust shall return to the earth as it was, and the spirit to God who gave it. Now we call that death. I wonder what God calls it? We think of it as the end; we can no longer communicate with those who have gone on. But from God’s perspective there is no death in that sense.

God looks at death from a totally different perspective than we do. What is death, and what is life? I’d like to read from Job, because he also speaks of death. Job 14:14 asks the question, “If a man die, shall he live again?” That’s a question men have asked through the ages. And Job answers it in a measure by saying this: “All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.”

As I look out over this sea of faces today, I wonder how many caskets it will take. How many caskets will there be for this audience, after death? We’re all moving in that direction. We’re all one day closer to our appointed time, to our change. So what is death? And what is life?

Today, you are hearing a funeral message – a message that Jesus never gave. When Jesus went to a funeral, he didn’t preach the message, he raised them to life! He is the author of life; death cannot stand in His presence!

Let’s look at John 11. They’re discussing Lazarus, who had been dead for four days. Jesus says “thy brother shall rise again”. What an incredible statement – but Martha assumes He’s talking about the future. And then Jesus says those words: I AM.

“I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” That’s death from God’s perspective! For his beloved, there is no death. He is life itself, He is the resurrection. And those who believe in him will have life, though they be dead

But, there is a death spoken about; a death that I hope none of you will ever experience. This is the second death, that we read about in Revelation: “Death and hell were cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death.”

By God’s grace, you have the opportunity today to believe in Jesus Christ, and to receive his life! And when your time comes, and you are found in Him, you will be ushered into life eternal. You have this opportunity today; but, you may not have it tomorrow.

Some years ago, God gave me a poem. Today I’d like to share it with you. The title is ‘Transported’. I have adapted it to this occasion, and I’d like to dedicate it to the congregation of the Marrowbone Brotherhood, and to the families involved in the passing of their loved ones. And then I want to extend it to you, the audience, and to the community at large.

Transported
Deep in the glories of heaven,
alive, with the angels of God,
I see, oh I see them rejoicing,
though here, paths of sorrow were trod.
Weeping, we grieve how we miss them,
their love and their singing we need,
Now there, in the land of the living,
and we, dying men, are as seed.
Seeds that are planted a lifetime,
in dying, take root in the sod,
Then glory be to Jesus,
we’ll bloom in the presence of God.

We are among those who are dying; the Esh’s have gone on into the land of the living. But that parting is difficult. The Apostle Paul says in Colossians 2:2 “That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love;” I was privileged to be together with the Esh family just a little over two weeks ago. I was enjoying that love that was so knit in these families, this community, and this church. And I could sense that love.

Perhaps some of you sisters do some knitting. When you take a piece of knitted fabric apart, you’ve got a job on your hands. God wants our lives to be like that fabric, looped together among several other loops, all intertwined with each other. And when death comes and rips that apart, the fiber of life is being torn. And it is painful.

But on the other side, we realize that God is weaving a much more beautiful tapestry. He’s putting it together living fibers that will live forever; living fibers that can never be broken.  And may God help us to experience that as well.

I trust that as we realize that we are one step closer to the grave today, that knowledge will draw our hearts closer to the Saviour. He’s coming again! Maranatha!

“Oh God, our heavenly Father, at this moment we pause before you. Lord, you’ve done a work in our community that we cannot fathom. We can’t understand it, but we trust you. We’ll continue to walk with you, Lord, until our change comes – until the day that we, too, are called. I pray, Father, for your blessing and for your Holy Spirit to speak to each one of us today, that the word of God might have free course in our hearts. Thank you, in Jesus’ name.”

 

 

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