Funeral Sermon for Doris Trahms
August 26, 2017
John 8 31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
I John 5:4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Dear Friends in Christ,
A story is told about an unbelieving soldier who was making fun of his friend one day, a friend who happened to be a Christian. The scoffer said, “The trouble with you Christians is that you think you are better than the rest of us.”
To which the Christian soldier replied, “No, we’re not better than the rest of you, just better off! Just better off. That may describe not only Christians compared to non-Christians, but also Christians who have died compared to those still living here on earth. Not better, just better off.
St. Paul said it best when he wrote that he desired to depart and be with Christ, which was far better. And again he wrote that to live is Christ and to die is gain. Like many elderly Christians, Doris agreed with St. Paul, more than that – in her final weeks and months, she no doubt yearned and prayed for that hour when the angels would whisk her soul into the presence of Jesus Christ, and she could join the multitudes of departed saints yearning for and looking forward to the resurrection of the dead.
Karen tells me that Doris loved to recite John 8:31-32, she called it her Bible verse, it meant the world to her. “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”With that in mind, the sermon theme today is “The truth will set you free.”
In these days, in this family, there are all kinds of tears and all kinds of melancholy, but these tears and melancholy by no means have the final word. Death is in fact the final enemy that every family faces, this family faced it together and there’s no way of getting around the fact that death hurts. Death is ugly, it’s nasty and it separates us from our loved ones. At so many funerals in this sanctuary, including this one, you can hear a pin drop. Urns and caskets have a way of getting us to be still and to know there is a God. Nursing homes and cemeteries have a way of getting us to think through what matters most in life and what doesn’t matter so much.
What matters this morning are the truths that set Doris Trahms free as a daughter of her Father in heaven. It matters that in the waters of Baptism, she was marked with the sign of the cross both upon her forehead and upon her heart, setting her free to live with a clear conscience in all of her days. It matters that as a little child, she learned again and again that Jesus loved her. It matters that Jesus Christ lived a perfect life for her, He suffered, He died, and He rose up again for her, It matters that these truths set her free to live out her vocations in life with the steady and quiet faith worked inside of her by the Holy Spirit. It matters that as she traveled with Robert through all the ups and downs of life, as often as she was still and knew that God was God, as often as she paid attention to the preaching and teaching of God’s Word, as often as she confessed her sins, as often as she cried out for mercy, as often as she received the very body and blood of her Savior at His Supper, that often the forgiveness of sins would sweep over her soul, as sheets of rain sweep over a dry prairie.
Today we stare in the face the wages of sin, which is death, but we celebrate the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Or as John said it, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
To the casual observers, funerals may not look or sound or feel much like a victory, but you who are gathered here this morning are not casual observers. You came here, no doubt, not only to pay final respect to a dear Christian woman, not only to grieve with family and friends, but also to be reminded of the victory all baptized and believing Christians are promised. The readings and the music selected by this family lead us to fix our eyes on Jesus Christ, who is the author and the finisher of our faith.
This family would invite you to fix your eyes on Christ who has already run and finished the perfect race, at the cross, he has already done battle with and defeated all the enemies of our faith, including death. No matter what you might be going through in life these days, fix your eyes on Him who has already risen up again on the third day, he ascended into heaven on the 40th day, he poured out His Spirit in superabundant fashion on his church on the 50th day. No matter where the roller coaster of life may be taking you these days, fix your eyes on Him who fixed His eyes on Doris Trahms before she was ever born, He in fact has been following her around with goodness and mercy in all the chapters of her life.
Understand that the crown of life Doris received late this past week is hers because Jesus Christ wore a crown of thorns in her stead. The white robe of righteousness she will wear into eternity is hers because Jesus Christ hung naked in her place on the cross. The palm branch that she will wave in victory in paradise is hers to wave because her Savior was whipped and beaten and slapped and spit at and tortured in her stead.
Kevin, Kurt, and Karen shared with me one of their favorite memories of Doris, it was simply the habit she had developed of listening well to people. So also, as one of her pastors for these past 27 years, a favorite memory of her was her desire to listen to God’s Word, her desire to hear that her sins were forgiven, her desire to receive Holy Communion.
Dear Friends in Christ, today is a good day to examine the competing desires in our own hearts and to see which ones are coming out on top. What is it you and I are seeking first in life? Where are your passions leading you? Is the Holy Spirit of God having his way with you in a regular kind of a way, or not so much?
The Holy Spirit is like a well respected coach who would gather his players in a huddle towards the end of a close game and say, “we can beat these guys. Do this and we will win.” He’s like a dear mother who holds close her frightened child in the middle of a storm and sings and reassures, “we’re safe in this house and we’re going to be just fine. The Holy Spirit is like a master teacher who says to a student preparing for an important test, “study these items well and you will do well on the test. I promise.”
So also did the Holy Spirit say to Doris in the waters of Baptism, “You are mine today and forever. Your name is written in the book of life and your mansions in heaven are on reserve.” So also did He say to her in her confirmation classes and in sermons and in daily devotions throughout the years, “trust in me, Stay close to me and I’ll bring you through thick and thin, smooth sailing and stormy seas, no exceptions to this rule.”
In closing I pray that God would send his holy angels to be with all of in all the chapters of life, that the wicked foe may have no power over you. We pray for the truths of God’s Word to keep on setting you free, for the Holy Spirit to be your counselor and your teacher in all the circumstances of your life. We pray for the forgiveness of sins to sweep over your souls and rule in your hearts in contagious fashion, we pray for Jesus Christ to hold you close in days of trouble, we praise God for blessing so many of us with the life and the times of Doris Trahms, and we pray for her remains to rest in peace until that great day of resurrection. In Jesus Name.
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