Friday, August 24, 2018

Sermon -- Funeral of Larry L. Luedeman (August 24, 2018)

For the Christian Funeral of 
+ Larry L. Luedeman +
(August 15, 1938 - August 21, 2018)

REVELATION 21:1-5

BEHOLD!  IT WILL ALL BE NEW.

In the name + of Jesus.

     Larry Luedeman is not the man he once was.  He was born into this world on August 15, 1938.  And he came into this world as all people do—a sinner.  From the moment he drew his first breath, he was on a journey which would end with his final breath.  His parents knew that.  So, they had him baptized into Jesus Christ.  By means of that baptism, the Triune God made him new.  The heavenly Father declared Larry to be a child of God.  The Lord Jesus cleansed him of all sin and clothed him in garments of salvation.  The Holy Spirit came to dwell in his heart, making him a new creation—one who was destined to live forever.  Behold!  It was all new.
     And as it is with all people, so it was for Larry.  He grew up, grew wiser, grew stronger, and grew taller.  Real tall, in fact.  Taller than most.  He got married.  Besides blessing him and Irene with almost 60 years of marriage, God also blessed him and Irene with children.  Many children, in fact.  More than most.
     I am sure that you all have fond memories of Larry—whether as husband, father, or grandfather.  And I am sure your stories are better than mine.  I have only known Larry for about 10 years.  For seven of those years, he was dealing with the after affects of a stroke.  Clearly, Larry was not the man he once was.  I remember him before his stroke being eager to engage in lively conversation.  That changed, and it got worse.  Although he did not talk much, he was still good at listening to the word of God.  The promises he knew throughout his life were sustaining him to the end of life.  His body may have been failing him, but God's was not.
     On August 21, 2018, the end of life in this world came.  He was not the man he once was.  He was not as robust.  He was not belting out hymns.  He was not as jovial or as energetic.  He was not even comfortable.  It is hard to see a loved one like that.  You remember him from his better years.  You remember the stories.  You have the memories.  And you grieve that he is not the man he once was.
     But this is not the end of his story.  Larry Luedeman had become a new creation at his baptism.  He was marked as a child of God.  He was given promises, and God is faithful to those promises.  St. John gave us a glimpse of the promises yet to be fulfilled.  Behold!  It will all be new.  St. John saw a new heaven and a new earth—a new home which will not be marred by hardships, by heartaches, or by any difficulties.  But the best part of this new heaven and new earth is who will be there.  This is what St. John recorded: I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.  He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” (Revelation 21:3)
     Behold!  It will all be new.  Larry's dwelling is no longer among sinful people in a corrupt world.  The saints of God will be gathered together, and God himself will be there with them.  Although God is with us and is our God now, we do not see him except by faith.  We believe he is with us because he says so.  He dwells within his believers.  His promises sustain you.  His Spirit comforts you.  But when he makes all things new, we will not live by faith.  We will see our Lord.  We will be with our Immanuel, and he will be with us.
     One of the bitter parts of death is losing one who is so dear to you.  When you lose a parent, you lose a part of your home.  All of you who are Larry & Irene's sons and daughters are grown and have established your own homes.  You have your own jobs, families, and responsibilities—most of which have taken you away from here.  But there is something comforting about coming back to your parents.  You may be frustrated at your job.  People may say nasty things about you.  You may be stressed out with your obligations.  You may even be at your wits' end with life.  But when you come to be with your parents, you are welcomed by people who love you without strings attached.  You do not have to pretend to be nice to them, and you know that they are not pretending to love you.  Your world may be a disaster, but your parents' home is still a refuge.
     Jesus Christ has provided an even greater refuge for Larry.  “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.  He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)  The God who became man to redeem mankind has brought Larry to dwell with him.  Jesus—who suffered for our sins to take away our sins, he who died under God's curse to deliver us from that curse, he who conquered death in order to be our refuge in death—has gathered Larry to himself in heaven.  Jesus, Immanuel, is God with us; and he is Larry's Immanuel for all eternity.  He has brought Larry's soul to this new home--the perfect dwelling in God's holy presence.  Larry is not the man he once was.  For now, Larry no longer knows pain or the frustration of being unable to move.  He no longer knows what it is to shed tears or to grieve.  He sings with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven.  The Lord who saved him, who blessed him, who preserved him in the faith, and who loves him without strings attached, wants Larry to be with him forever.  And so, now he is.  Larry walks before the Lord, and the Lord dwells with him.  Behold!  It is all new.
     But there is still more.  Today, we lay the body of Larry Luedeman to rest.  It is not the body he once had; for it has aged, grown weak, suffered badly in health, and has finally given out.  But the Lord has plans for this body.  Jesus announced them to St. John: He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”  Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:5)  
    Behold!  It will all be new.  Death has not had the last word.  For Jesus, who overcame death, has purchased and won Larry from death.  Death does not own Larry Luedeman; Jesus does.  And therefore, on the Last Day, Jesus will raise this body from the grave, and behold!  It will all be new.  This body which has succumbed to death will be raised up, living and glorious.  It will be incorruptible—which means that all effects of his stroke, heart attack, and any sickness or disease will be forever gone.  It will be imperishable—which means he will never know frailty, weakness, or death.  It will be holy—which means he will be set apart for the Lord's glory and able to live in the presence of God forevermore.  Behold!  It will all be new, and it will forever be new.
     Larry Luedeman will not be the man he once was.  He will be risen.  He will be glorified.  He will be without sin, without pain, without sorrow, without death, and without end.  And just as he was the Lord's redeemed throughout his life, so he will be for all eternity.  Jesus is his Immanuel.  Jesus makes him a partaker of his glory forevermore.  And that will never get old.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.