Funeral Sermon for Terry Hinze
(55 year old man, husband of Pam and dad of two sons)
Looking to the Things That Are Unseen
II Corinthians 4:16-18 – So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are seen are eternal.
Dear Friends in Christ,
Both the Psalmody for today and this text from 2 Corinthians were chosen by Pam for us to hear today. In this text, the Holy Spirit would invite us to spend our days living by faith instead of by sight. To walk according to what we believe in our hearts instead of what we can see with our eyes. I’m sure that we will all agree that that is far easier said than done. It is of our very nature to believe only what we can see with our own eyes. We are distracted by what we see.
We are like the farmer who told his wife that he was going out to plough the field the next day. He got up early the next morning so that he could oil the tractor. He needed more oil, so he went to the shop to get it. On the way to the shop he noticed the pigs weren’t fed. So he proceeded to the storehouse, where he found some sacks of feed. The sacks reminded him that his potatoes were sprouting. Then when he started for the potato pit, he passed the wood pile and remembered that his wife wanted wood in the house. As he picked up a few sticks, an ailing chicken passed by. He dropped the wood and picked up the chicken. When evening arrived, the frustrated farmer had not even gotten to the tractor, let alone to the field.
In our text for today, Paul warns us not to be frustrated, not to be distracted, not to be discouraged by what we see. He mentions at least two things that make our hearts grow faint – our ailing bodies and the troubles we see all around us. Our sermon theme today is “Looking to the Things That Are Unseen.”
The beautiful promise from God in which we rest this morning is that as often as we look to that which is unseen, that often we will not lose heart. As often as we fix our eyes on Jesus Christ crucified, risen, ascended into heaven, sitting at the right hand of God and coming back again, that often we will not be discouraged. As often as we focus on the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting, that often cancer and death and urns full of ashes and visits to the cemetery will not get the best of us. As often as we listen to God’s Word and remember and hold onto and cherish what we have learned from our mother’s knees, that often we will be able not only to survive our days of trouble, we will be able to be of good courage, and more than that we will be able to encourage other people in our lives, and even more than that, the peace and the joy and the strength that we Christians have in this Christmas season will be like a wave of fans rising and circling the stadium encouraging their team to do well.
Hunter and Ryan and Pam and Ken and Loretta and Travis and Trinette and Kenda and Darin and all of you who are bent low in grief today, your family and friends gathered here today are rooting for you, we are praying for you, we are collectively urging you to look to and hold onto the promises of God you cannot see. We are praying for you to not be growing faint, to stay as close as you possibly can to Jesus Christ, and more than that, the pastors and the people of this church believe that if you keep on incline your ears and listen really closely this morning, you’ll hear Him crying with you. You’ll feel Him holding tight your hand as you walk on through the valley of the shadow of death. You’ll hear Him whispering that in the waters of Baptism, the Triune God claimed Terry as His own son, that His Name was written in the book of life on Christmas Day, 1960, that His Savior has been following Him around with goodness and mercy, that his sins are forgiven, that at the moment of death the angels of God carried his soul into the presence of God, and that the day is coming, and it’s coming soon, when this body of dust and ashes will be raised and glorified and will join you in living face to face with Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 4 and 5 are all about us not losing heart in days like these. Days of grief that are almost too much to bear. I say “almost” for good reason. Paul writes earlier in this chapter that we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed, perplexed, but not driven to despair, persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed, always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
Believers are not exempt from pain and suffering, as this family knows full well today. But we are exempt from being driven to despair, we are exempt from being forsaken by our Father in heaven, we are exempt from being destroyed. In fact, we know that though even as Terry Hinze’s body was wasting away, his inner self was being renewed day by day. We know that all of the hell on earth this family has gone through in these past 10 months was light and momentary affliction, when compared to the eternal glory that is promised.
This family knows as well as any family I have ever known, what every good coach has preached down through the ages, “no pain, no gain.” Hunter was telling me a story about Terry’s commitment to intense physical training. If my memory serves correctly, it was a program called Play Opedia, and even on vacation, even while staying at the motel and in the motel parking lot, there would be the Hinze boys working out, sweating and grunting and punishing their bodies, in training for important athletic contests that lie ahead. This family knows better than most, that winning is way better than losing, and that a price needs to be paid if the trophies are going to be gained. No doubt many of the stories told today will focus on basketball and football and baseball, and how true is the expression, “no pain, no gain.”
Go ahead and remember those times, and by all means tell those stories and enjoy those stories, and then fix your eyes on the story that is even better, the best story ever told, the story that culminates with the story of Christmas, leading into the story of Good Friday, and culminating with the story of Easter. Keep looking to that old old story which led St. Paul to write, as he approached death, that for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. The story that led Paul to write to young Pastor Timothy, …train yourself for godliness, for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance.
In conclusion, a word to you, Ken and Loretta, we cry with you today and we hurt with you as you do what no parents should have to do, as you lay the remains of your beloved son into the cold dark earth. We commend you for making sure he was baptized, for making sure he knew the difference between right and wrong, for making sure he knew the six chief parts of Christian teaching, for making sure that you handed to him the baton of Christian faith. We pray that you keep on looking to that which you cannot see, that you spend the rest of your days staying close to your Savior and receiving all that your God wants to give you, that you never lose heart.
A word to you Kenda and Darin and Trinette and Travis and inlaws and nieces and nephews and good friends and family, we cry with you today, we hurt with you as you say goodbye to a brother who loved you with an amazing kind of love. We commend you for receiving his love and loving him right back in a way that was ever so pleasant to behold. We pray that you keep on looking to that which you cannot see, that you would spend the rest of your days staying close to your Savior, never losing heart, receiving all that your God wants to give you, and passing the baton of Christian faith to the next generations.
A word to you Pam and Hunter and Ryan, we cry with you today, we hurt with you as you do the unthinkable, as live the next chapters of your life without the man who was your earthly refuge and rock, your human and very present help in every day of trouble. We commend you for receiving his love and loving him in a strong and faithful way to the very end. We commend you for blessing so many of us in the way that you walked through this valley of darkness and almost overwhelming distress. We pray that you will keep on looking to that which you cannot see, that you never lose heart, that you would rest in the promises of the remission of sins and resurrection of the body and reunions that never end, that you would spend the rest of your days staying close to your Savior, receiving all of the goodness and the mercy that He is wanting you to have, that you would run your own races on that road which is straight and narrow, on that road which has shoulders and sometimes steep ditches on both sides, on that road which leads to a really happy ending.
This Christmas Day and in every Christmas Day to come, do remember that this was the day Terry Hinze was baptized, this was the day Jesus Christ came to us in the flesh, this was the day when all of God’s promises were verified as trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. Amen
Worship Sermons & Letters
Pastor Paul Muther