Home > Uncategorized > Funeral Homily for Melba Flowers

Funeral Homily for Melba Flowers

October 25, 2011

Click here for mp3 audio 57 Funeral Homily for Melba Flowers.mp3

In the name of Jesus.  Amen.

It is a sad hour we now observe.  We are gathered steps away from the grave of a precious mother and grandmother and dear sister in the faith.  The Scriptures declare to us, “Weep with those who weep.”  So, now is the time to pour out our tears, as brothers and sisters sharing deep sadness.  Many of you know the battle Melba fought the last years of her life and how it intensified the last several months.  Melba bore a difficult burden in her body, a burden the Lord was not quick to take from her.  Those who saw her suffer suffered with her until last Friday when her suffering was over.  Melba showed us all what it was to declare with David, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.  For you are with me, Lord.  Your rod and your staff they comfort me.”

Those of us who watched Melba suffer so, were saddened not only by watching her suffer but were confronted with our worst fears, fears of suffering and death.  By nature, dear friends, there is something about death which terrifies all people.  And so today I stand in the pulpit and declare to you a word that is contrary to what has become a part of the popular thought among us.  Death is not a part of life.  It is not a part of the circle of life.  God created us for life, not death.  Death is not a natural end it is the wages of sin and that is why we fear it as we do.  Death is our enemy.  We can try to appease our fears with the platitudes of the day but it’s nothing more than whistling in the graveyard.  And when we leave behind all of those pagan thoughts about death in comes the truth that death is not an end but a summons, a serious command of God, a subpoena to stand in the courtroom of the judge of all people.  We look at the inevitability of that summons and anticipate either inexpressible blessedness or fear eternal punishment.  At the arrival of such a summons, any false confidence we might have had evaporates like morning mist and is transformed into troubling doubt and that doubt into our deepest fears.

Now of course, there have been a great many unbelievers who have met their end with a certain kind of peace.  But they are only at a level of peace which comes from a morbid acceptance of the unavoidable.  They think, “What good will it do for me to worry about it?  My fate is sealed at this point.”  But even believers, dear children of God, even true Christians can become gripped by the fear of death.  David wrote in the eighteenth psalm, “The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me; the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me.”  In the fifty-fifth psalm he says, “My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me.”  Even the great apostle Peter denied Jesus three times because he was afraid of suffering and death.  And so death is truly terrifying even when it stares into the face of a believer.  No one is safe because death is not overcome by human strength but only by the grace of God is this prince of terror overcome.  It is to God’s grace we now turn.

David is an example of a child of God afflicted by the fear of death but in the twenty-third psalm we also see how his fear is overcome.  “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.  For Thou, O Lord, art with me.  Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”  I’ll stand in this pulpit and preach against the wisdom of this age on one more topic this afternoon.  God is not within you; He is not lurking around someplace inside you.  God is with us like a shepherd is with his sheep.  The very reason we have so much fear and so much doubt in hours like this is because so many people point us back inside ourselves to look for the spark of divinity within us or some such thing.  As much as we would like it if it were true, looking inside ourselves for comfort is even more terrifying.  So instead, I point you to your Lord.  He is very much outside of you, accompanying you, rescuing you, defending and protecting you from all the dangers and enemies that threaten you.  It is at Holy Baptism that God acts on us, pouring water on us, sealing us in name to make us His own, even clothing us with the righteousness of His Son Jesus.  All of these things are things that happen to us on the outside.  Look to Jesus Christ our Lord who on His journey to the cross walked through that lonely valley and suffered its punishment so that you who are buried with Him in Baptism might be raised with Him just as He was raised.  Look to our God who walks beside you through the valley of the shadow of death.

Melba, our dear sister in faith, suffered but she did not suffer alone.  Her Lord was with her, holding her hand, carrying her through that dreadful valley safe to the other side to be with Him forever.  Melba longed to be with her Lord in eternity.  She could have just as well written the words written by David, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When shall I come and appear before God?” (Ps 42:2)  Oh how she rejoiced to hear a Word from the Lord and took comfort in the promises of the Lord that His mercies were renewed every morning.  Oh how she rejoiced to receive the body and blood of her Lord in the Holy Sacrament.  How she rejoiced to repeat with me the Lord’s Prayer and the twenty-third psalm.  Oh, how she rejoiced to receive the blessing of the Lord from the servant He sent to minister to her.  So it was in faith, that she labored until her last hour when the Lord granted her a blessed end.  May our dear sister now rest in peace until that great day of the resurrection of all flesh.  She has now come out of the great tribulation, washed her robe and made it white in the blood of the Lamb.  Be assured that Melba never lost sight of her Lord who walked beside her.  Be comforted in the promises of God made to Melba and that He makes to all of you.  Hold on dearly to blessings of God delivered to you by the holy cross of Jesus, our Lord.  Be steadfast even in the face of death because Jesus our champion has overcome that old enemy.

In closing, I’d like to leave you with the words of one of the founders of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, Dr. C.F.W. Walther.

Be thou steadfast in your faith,

In suffering be undaunted;

Let nothing rob you of your Christ,

Remain in God’s strong fortress.

When tears have finally ended,

With Christ you are ascended.  Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Linda Price
    October 27, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    Excellent sermon for Melba. I pray you’re around to say a few words over me – if not, a prayer in your heart.


    • October 28, 2011 at 12:28 pm

      Linda, thanks for the kind words. I’m not going anywhere that I know of. And as far as what’s said at your funeral, we’re a long time away from that day.

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