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After the Funeral 13 December 2005

Posted by Dr Moose in Uncategorized.
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(Category: Faith)

It is a sad truth that not all my sermons come deeply from heart. But this one did, to some 400 grieving souls last Friday morning. My thanks for all of you who prayed. Please keep it up, the family and friends will need them for a long time to come. My hope is that by posting the text of the address, which followed three heartfelt tributes, this might be of help to anyone else facing the prospect of preaching on a tragic, young death:

“We’ve heard a lot about J, about what he was like, and how he affected all our lives. One question I suspect that most of us here today have asked is, “where is God in the middle of all this? Is he somewhere up there, with clean hands, calm and serene, removed from all this? Away from our pain, suffering and doubt? What use is a God like that?”, you might ask.

I found myself asking questions too, and the strongest? “What would Jesus; my boss, Jesus, what would he do?” I don’t have the wit or the wisdom to tell a story as original as his, stories that make us laugh, make us cry or make us think about the sting in the tale. I might not be able to tell a story like him, but I can tell one about him.

Reading from John’s Gospel, chapter 11 (The Message).

When Jesus finally got there, he found Lazarus already four days dead. Bethany was near Jerusalem, only a couple of miles away, and many of the Jews were visiting Martha and Mary, sympathizing with them over their brother. Martha heard Jesus was coming and went out to meet him. Mary remained in the house.
Martha said “Master, if you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask God he will give you.”
Jesus said “Your brother will be raised up.”
“I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time.”
You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?”
“Yes, Master, all along I have believed that you are the Messiah, the Son of God who comes into the world.”
After saying this, she went to her sister Mary and whispered in her ear, “The Teacher is here, and is asking for you.”
Mary came to where Jesus was waiting and fell at his feet, saying, “Master, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her sobbing, and the Jews with her sobbing, a deep anger welled up within him. He said, “Where have you put him?”
“Master, come and see”, they said. Now Jesus wept.
The Jews said, “Look how deeply he loved him.”
Others among them said, “Well, if he loved him so much, why didn’t he do something to keep him from dying? After all, he opened the eyes of a blind man.”

We can’t avoid the fact that we’re approaching Christmas. A time to remember the birth of Jesus, a time when Christians over the ages have believed that, somehow, all the fullness and perfection of God came to earth in the same way as all of us. And that means that Jesus had to be born, in the same way as all of us.

It means that Jesus had to grow up in the same way as all of us.

So I can’t believe that Jesus never encountered pain or suffering.

I can’t believe he lived in a little bubble, isolated from the same realities we face. He too must have known friends, neighbours, those around him, die, not just of old age, or “normal” reasons, but also in stupid accidents, when no-one could really answer why.

The Jesus who cried over the death of his friend, now that’s the God I can believe in.

God, who in Jesus, came into our mucky, messy, confused, joyous, tragic life – life with all it’s emotions, fears, regrets and doubts. One who knows what we are going through, even because he has been through death itself, and back again.

That’s the God who is here in Spirit today, with us and beside us. That’s the God we worship in all our sadness, doubt and questions. The one who loves us despite our imperfections. That’s the God into whose care we’re giving J.

And that’s the God who wants to walk with us too. Now and forever.”

It took a lot to write and deliver that. But I felt that was what was needed. There has to be room for grace, otherwise there is no hope for any one of us…

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Comments»

1. andy gr - 15 December 2005

beautifully put – thanks for sharing it.

2. Kathryn - 20 January 2006

Just revisited this, in the light of all the thinking I’ve been indulging in recently, and it is even better and more helpful than it was when I read it originally. Thanks 🙂


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