A reading from the gospel of Mark, the 16th chapter.
“And Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved…”
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Creator and our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
We are gathered today to worship our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim that he is our crucified and risen Lord. We are gathered to remember our brother, Kelly, to comfort one another in our grief, to give thanks for Kelly’s life, and to commend him to our merciful God.
On behalf of all of us at Central Lutheran, I extend to you Colleen, and to Melissa and Jo, Mark and Lynne, Sarah and Eric,
Erica, Derek, Baylie, Hannah, Ty, and Michael, and all of Kelly’s family and friends our heartfelt sympathy.
Loss is never easy, especially when death is sudden and unexpected like this. Please know today and in the days to come, that you are surrounded with the love of Christ and the love of your friends.
We are here today to remember Kelly. But most importantly, we are here to proclaim that Christ is crucified and risen. We are here to proclaim our sure and certain hope in the resurrection unto eternal life. We are here to be reminded that, “Today, the Lord is near.”
The scriptures we have heard this morning are strong statements of faith. Kelly had a strong, yet quiet faith. He did not want anything fancy for his funeral. He wanted it to be about Jesus, not about him.
Our first scripture reading tells us that: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: there is a time to be born and a time to die.” Kelly’s time to die came too suddenly for us. We were not prepared. Yet, today, the Lord is near.
All of our scriptures today talk about our life of faith. They point us in a clear direction. They remind us that a life of faith is a life in the Spirit. Faith isn’t something we can manufacture on our own. It isn’t a good work that we perform. It isn’t a list of things we must believe in order to win salvation. Faith is a gift. We can’t buy it. We can’t earn it with good deeds. The Holy Spirit must give it to us.
When we have faith, we live by the Spirit and the Spirit guides all of our life. Kelly understood this. He knew that life in Christ meant a life of freedom to live the way God wanted him to live. A life of freedom to live justly, and love kindness, and walk humbly with God.
Kelly knew how to live a life of justice. He was not a judgmental person, yet he was there to stand up for what was right and fair when the situation called for someone to stand up and say something.
Kelly understood kindness. He knew kindness wasn’t a sentimental touchy feely kind of thing. For him, kindness was quiet action. Kelly understood kindness as going the extra mile to do things for people. He would do anything for his kids.
And he loved all of God’s creation. Kelly understood kindness could mean fostering stray cats and dogs even if that required bottle feeding them on his lunch hour and during the night.
Kelly knew how to walk humbly with God. He was confident enough to admit when he didn’t know something. He was always willing to learn something new. He wasn’t afraid to read a book to learn something he didn’t know. He wasn’t afraid to try something for the first time. He taught his children that it was good to be a life-long learner. That it was okay to try new things and failure wasn’t a problem, it was just part of the learning process.
When we live by the Spirit, we enjoy the fruit of the Spirit. Like faith, the fruit of the Spirit is a pure gift of God’s grace. The fruit of the Spirit is a life of: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
The fruit of the Spirit is a sign of a beautiful life in Christ. We all want to live that kind of beautiful life. Yet, we know that in this life on earth, things rarely turn out that way. Everybody’s life has times of worry, times of trouble, times of broken relationships, times of grief. Yet, in the midst of all that, we know that, today, the Lord is near.
Paul would not have written to the Galatians and warned them against being conceited, against competing with each other, and against envying each other, if these weren’t problems that everyone had. The world isn’t perfect, far from it. Yet in the midst of this life, in the midst of all the worries, all the troubles, the Lord is near. Jesus takes our worries. He treats us with gentleness. He listens to our prayers.
Even in the midst of death itself, our Lord is near to us. God understands what we are going through. Jesus suffered death on the cross for us. And, if that were not enough, he has destroyed the power that death has over us.
Today, Jesus gives us confidence and hope to believe that when our time comes, we also will be with him in heaven. Until then, he sends the Holy Spirit to comfort us and give us peace.
For everything there is a season. Today, the Lord is near. Amen.