FUNERAL SERMON FOR SHARI HAGEDORN

March 14, 2020, at Luther Memorial Chapel

Pastor Michael Larson

Let us pray. O God of grace and mercy, we thank You for Your loving kindness shown to all Your servants who, having finished their course in faith, now rest from their labors. Grant us grace to say with a believing heart, Thy will be done, and know that Your will, though so often hidden from our eyes, is good and gracious. Strengthen us through Your Word, Your precious Gospel, for that day when You will call us to Yourself, that we also may be faithful unto death, joyfully receive the crown of eternal life, and join the whole company of heaven to live with You forever. Amen.

Dear family and friends of Shari, grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

Do you know the shortest verse in the whole Bible? The shortest verse in the whole Bible is actually two words. Just two words. And here they are. “Jesus wept.” You see, even our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, had a good friend. His name was Lazarus. And he died. Jesus even knew He was going to raise him from the dead. But that didn’t make the Lord into some stoic, unaffected or unmoved by death. No way. At the sudden death of His friend Lazarus, Jesus wept. And so should we.

Last weekend, Shari went to the hospital with shortness of breath. She had two sizeable blood clots, one in her lung. Before surgery, we read the Bible together, we prayed for her, her family, her surgeons and nurses. She prayed the Lord’s Prayer, saying not our will be done – but Thy will be done. I placed my hands on her head, gave her a blessing, and commended her into God’s hands.

And that’s just what He did. Suddenly rescued her from this valley of sorrow and brought her to Himself in heaven.

We’re Christians. It is our great hope to be with the Lord ,and we rejoice over those who have received that rest. But even knowing that doesn’t make it easy.

We’re hurting. We’re crying. Again, the shortest verse of the Bible. Two words. Jesus wept. He too mourned death. But this is the thing. He actually came to do something about it.

Folks, the truth is that we live in a fallen world. We’re dying sinners in a dying world. Ever since man’s rebellion against the God of love, death has entered into His creation. The Bible says in Romans chapter 5 that sin came into the world through one man, that is, Adam, and death entered the world through sin, and so in turn, death spread to all people because all sinned.

You see, while the whole world is losing their minds about coronavirus, we forget the greatest sickness we all have. It’s the devastating problem of sin – a devastating condition - a terminal illness that each and every one of us has. Death therefore has a claim on all of us. And there’s nothing we can do to beat back death or keep things at bay.

So we need a Savior to rescue from death and bring to us healing, joy, and everlasting life.

Shari put her trust in the Savior. His name is Jesus. She came to church every week and seldom missed a Bible study, because she wanted to learn more about this Savior of her, along with Jonathan and the boys.

A few weeks ago Jonathan and Shari and the boys were here for Ash Wednesday. We put ashes on our foreheads and heard the words of the Lord, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

So let me tell you about Shari’s Savior. He came down from heaven above to become a man of the dust just like us. To become like us in every single way except without sin. He suffered for us. Laid down His life for us on the cross.

But death, you see, death, made a grave mistake when it tried to take hold of Jesus. He was without sin, so it would impossible for Him to be held in that tomb. And so He walked right out of the grave on the third day, and therefore the reign of death was ended. Jesus’ resurrection proves that death’s grip is broken, that the grave is not the end, and that all flesh shall rise on the Last Day.

In the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus, we have the fulfillment of this great promise. You heard it in our first reading this morning.

“And He will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of His people He will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. It will be said on that day, ‘Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, that He might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him; let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation.’”

Therefore, dear friends, we must remember that death is still defeated. Today we are sad. We are grieving but not given over to despair. We mourn with joy. We cry with laughter. Our tears are mixed with hope. In the shadow of the grave, we sing of life eternal. In the midst of death we confess the resurrection. We mourn with hope.

This is how St. Paul puts it to the Thessalonians: “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep.”

Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus. We weep to at the death of our friend, wife, daughter, sister, and mother. The shortest verse in the Bible. Jesus wept. So do we.  

But let me tell you another verse in the Bible – and it’s pretty short too. “He is risen. He is not here.”  

This is the foundation of Shari’s faith. It was her great hope, her comfort, and consolation.

May God bless you all, that you, too, would believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And be ready at any time to cheerfully meet Him when He calls. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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