Funeral Sermon For A Fixer
Written by: Miller, Tom Posted on: 07/12/2004
"THE TOOLS TO FIX IT ALL"
Friends and family of Phil Hawley:
I didn't know Phil. But when I have heard his name mentioned it has usually ben in the connection of his skills in the mechanical arena. "He was a good mechanic." "He could fix it." "His tools were magic in his hands."
The right tools in the right hands are able to work magic. With knowledge and proper application the right tools in skilled hands do work magic.
However, for you and I and our walk on this earth, there are some things that we don't have the tools to change. Some things that our human will cannot bring into being no matter how much we wish, or try or say.
Conquering death is one of those things. Certainly you, Peggy, and each of your children did the right things in caring for Philip. You went beyond the call of duty making him comfortable, responding to his wishes, providing the kind of environment where he could be comfortable at home. With few tools, you worked magic to give meaning to Phil's life-three times as long as medical people believed possible.
In the end, all the tools available to us, were not enough to keep Phil from the clutches of death. In the end, no amount of willing, or praying, or technology could keep him in this life for another week, or month, or year. When Thursday came, there weren't any magic tools that could thwart death.
Only God has the tools to conquer death. Only God has the tools to work magic on death's power. The tool that God has is His eternal almighty power. The tool that God has is the resurrection of His Son Jesus, who endured death, even as we must, but by the power of God was resurrected from the dead, having conquered deaths final power. In the resurrection, we believe God has made death into a gateway to eternity. In the Resurrection, God said that death is not the final word on life, but that death is the gateway to the next life.
Death always comes as a shock. It doesn't matter how long it has been expected, or how well you've prepared for it, or how many times you've rehearsed in your mind what that moment might be like, or how much you've stayed yourself for its coming, it always comes too soon. It always comes at the wrong time.
But death is a fact. It draws us up short. It causes pain, and grief and separation. It causes us to feel emptiness and heartache. There is an empty spot, a break in the family circle. And we grieve, we recall experiences, we feel the pain that death brings.
So what tools do we need in these days to deal with our grief. What tools do we turn to that will ease our pain and move us into the days ahead? God has given us some direction in His word: The book of Eccleastices notes that there is a season for everything under heaven: a time to remember, a time to weep, a time to heal.
One tool is our memory. In these days it is helpful to recall all the fond memories of life on this earth with Phil. It is to open the memory bank of the mind and share those common experiences which were meaningful in shaping life, and in which life was found to be meaningful. The treasure chest of memory is one of God's precious tools to help us grieve.
Certainly this is a time to weep. God has given the gift of tears, I believe, to help us cleanse our spirits. Our Bishop, Bishop Chilstrom remarked upon reflecting upon the death of his son, said, "Tears flowing freely from the deep well of the soul, ring cleansing, and lead to the fresh waters of life." Tears come from deep within us to cleanse, and purge, and open the way for the fresh waters of life--living waters of faith. And faith is the tool that brings healing. God has promised to be with us. In fact, God has come to be near us in His Son Jesus. It is faith in Jesus, his life saving death and resurrection, that gives us hope. We are told that God loved us enough to give his son for us that in believing we might have life, life in his name. So this is a time to look to faith, to find renewal in our commitments and in our believing so that we might grow in claiming the promises of God for all those who believe in his Son.
And the last tool we have is God's promise that nothing will separate us from His love. Not death, not separation, not one thing. NO matter what God promises to be with us. And in death to hold his own in his loving arms. We know, and believe, that there is no better place to be than in the arms of Jesus, safe in his loving arms, where he holds us in love.
The following sermon is thanks to Tom Miller and Lection List for encouraging the exchange of funeral sermon ideas during the week of August 17-23 1997. Tom is pastor of St. Mark's Lutheran, (ELCA), Bloomfield NE
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