Thursday, 19 July 2012

Another Funeral address

The tiny community of King Island has has a spate of recent deaths of King Islanders or people who have lived and worked on the Island for some time.  At last cound 14 in the past 6 week.  I have given gospel presentations, encouraged the people to consider there own mortality.  This one I thought needed tio be particularly about comfort.

We have been hearing people speak this afternoon of Graham and how special a person he was.  Visiting Jenny and her family on Monday morning I saw a home full of photos of family.  I heard stories of the bonds between Graham and his siblings, his friends, his children and his grandchildren.  Jenny although still in a state of shock at the suddenness of her Graham’s death, told me just as I was leaving what privilege it had been to be part of Graham’s life and family for the 42 years of their marriage. 

Some of the words I remember Jenny using ... he and his brothers got on so well ... a gentleman ... he didn’t swear ... loved his family ... so many friends ... lots of interests ... everyone will want to say farewell.

·        But many of you didn’t get that chance to say that final farewell.  Graham’s death was so quick, so unexpected.  
·        That is just one of the reasons funerals are so important. They give us the opportunity to say our goodbyes.   
·        And comfort each other in our shared grief.
God’s comfort in our time of grieving.
This afternoon I want to offer what I hope are a few words of comfort.  They come from the Bible.
God cares for us all ... he weeps when we weep.
Comfort, Comfort my people says your God.  Speak tenderly to them  ... Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

I said a moment ago I wanted to offer you some words of comfort.  Three words in fact ... Hesed ... Shalom ... and grace.
Is a Hebrew word the Bible translates in a few different ways.  The unfailing love of God; the never ending love of God; the special unchangeable love of God towards his people.
It is the love that God has for us that can never be taken away, that can be depended on at all times.  It is about the God who is always there.
When everyone else is busy, he is listening.

When we wake lonely in the middle of the night and long for someone to talk with; cry with or shout our pain too; Hesed is the promise that God will be there when you need him.

Shalom is another Hebrew word that holds the promise of comfort.  Shalom again has several expressions of meaning.  It is about peace with God and from God that results in wellbeing, safety, prosperity and completeness.

Shalom is peace that comes from God.  Knowing God cares for us, it about knowing that despite how we may be feeling today that the sun will rise tomorrow morning because God is in absolute control of the universe.  That God is the almighty, all-powerful creator but at the same time is the God who is watching over us, living with us and is here now weeping beside us today.

·        Shalom gives rise to peace of mind in the midst of our sorrow and grief.  It helps us trust there will come a time when life will resume.  That the pain you presently feel  will not last forever; there will be a time when you will be able to remember Graham not with sorrow or a tear, but  gladness and a smile as his memory brings back the joys you have shared with him

The third word is Grace.

Grace is a key attribute of God.  Grace means God is merciful, long-suffering, and abounding in goodness and graciousness.  Grace is always associated with mercy, compassion, and patience as the source of help and deliverance in our distress.

Grace is the reason Jesus became a human person just like us.  He experienced the pain of seeing people he loved die, his earthly father Joseph, his cousin John the Baptist and his  close friend Lazarus.

·        God has been in the same place you are now, he knows what it is like to lose someone you love dearly.

·        Grace means that God will listen if you call to God for help, and that God knows your pain because he has felt it too.

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