Home > Uncategorized > Homily for the Funeral of James Brock

Homily for the Funeral of James Brock

August 24, 2013

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In the name of Jesus.  Amen.

As many of you know, I’m rather new to Heavenly Host but even I know what a central figure Jim has been in our congregation.  Jim was a longtime member of Heavenly Host.  And he was not just on the books here, he was a servant in our congregation.  Since I heard of his passing, a number of people have told me wonderful stories about Jim and his years in our congregation.  Jim was one of those pillars on which the Lord seemed fit to build this congregation.  His life here was a life of service to his Lord.  Jim was deeply rooted here in the community too.  Look at the number of folks who turned out to pay their respects; that was quite a line.  What Jim was in his church spilled out into his family and his community.   There’s a lesson in that for all of us.

As I said, Jim was a longtime member of our Lutheran congregation.  The readings and hymns today confess not only the Christian faith but this church’s faith and Jim’s and Lois’ faith.  These are the solid things when all around us goes shaky.  The readings are a wonderful confession of everything we need to be reminded of today.  As we gather together to hear the word of God in the midst of death, Isaiah reminds us that on another hill far away, Jesus literally swallowed up death by dying to it.  And by dying to death He destroyed it.  By dying to death and destroying it, He has prepared a rich banquet of the best foods and finest of wines.  I can’t help but believe this is a foreshadowing the new testament in Christ’s body blood, His holy Supper, and thus a foretaste of the heavenly banquet table of the Lord our God.  Last month, I brought communion down to Lois.  Jim was there and we all three communed together in Lois’ room there.  I was so glad that Jim and Lois received Holy Communion together that day.  It was a blessed assurance of the forgiveness of sins won by Christ for them, for us all.  Yes, dear friends, these are the sure things, the rocks we can hold on to.  They are the hills from where our help comes.

David reminds us that our help comes from the Lord, the Lord who works out His salvation for His people on these hills.  Did David already see with the eyes of faith Isaiah’s mountain on which the Lord would swallow up death forever, the hill on which Christ would hang on the cross and die to death and by dying to it cancel it out?  We heard from Paul the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, that indeed, the shroud that covers all people, death has been swallowed up in the victory of Christ’s death and resurrection.  Death no longer has any sting.  Like a honeybee that can only sting once, death can harm us none.  Jesus bore death’s sting for us.  We now have the victory over death through Jesus Christ our Savior!

And then the reading from Luke chapter 2, there is one more hill.  Here He is, the infant Son of God, born of Mary, carried up the holy hill of Mount Zion into the Temple to be dedicated on the eighth day.  Simeon was there.  He had been told that he would not die until he had seen the salvation of the Lord, the redemption of Israel.  And then he held the baby Jesus in his arms literally held his salvation and inspired by the Holy Spirit Simeon sang too:

     “my eyes have seen your salvation

31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,

32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,

and for glory to your people Israel.”

Simeon saw with his own eyes what David and Isaiah could only see with the eyes of faith.  And if there is any doubt, the apostle Paul confirms it.  Jesus is our rescuer from sin and the power of death.

That is an important thing to remember today.  Some might say that Jim was an older man and had lived a full life and was ready to go home to be with the Lord.  They would say that death is just a part of life but they would be wrong.  We were not meant for days like today.  We were not meant for death and decay and the frailty of life that has become the human condition since the Fall of Adam.  We were meant for everlasting glory.  We were created to participate in the perfect partnership of God.  And that is the message of God on a day like today.  When Jesus came down from heaven to rescue us from death, He didn’t wave a magic wand to save all people.  He did not just come to give the world a universal do-over.  He came to restore us to the glory God intended for us, to put an end to death itself.

Before Jesus came to earth, death had been successful for generations.  Death had been swallowing up those whose sins had separated them from God.  And when Christ came, death looked at Christ as though he were another David or Isaiah, or one of the other prophets, and thought: ‘I have devoured and swallowed up these others, no matter how high and mighty they were; I will devour this one, too.’ But here death and the devil ran up against a wall.  They crashed headlong against this man, Jesus, who could not die.  He could not die because of His divinity, for it is impossible for God to die.  Nor ought he to have died according to His human nature, for He had no sin, no guilt, and therefore death had no claim on him.  Death has a claim on all mankind, even John the Baptist and all the other saints… But death had no claim on Christ. For this reason it seized him wrongfully and that was death’s downfall.  Death and the devil came with all their might and tried their best.  But Christ took neither sword nor armor; neither gun nor ammunition, but instead remained completely silent and let them rush him strike against Him without lifting a finger.  He let Himself be crushed as they might.  But by such a quiet strategy He ambushed them and by His dying, He overcame sin, death, the devil and hell and not just for Himself alone but for all who are buried with Him and raised up with him.  On that hill outside Jerusalem, Jesus swallowed up death forever.

So we will grieve Jim’s passing and we will mourn our loss and mourn along with you Lois.  But we will not mourn as those who have no hope.  I know that death looks sure and certain.  But more sure and more certain than even death is Jesus.  The death that could not hold him, cannot hold Jim.  That death cannot hold you.  Death was swallowed up by Jesus on that hill far away.

These are the solid things.  They are not mere words.  They are the most certain promises of God Himself.  These are the things that will comfort us in the days and weeks ahead when doubt creeps in and temptation to despair tries to steal away our assurance and our hope not only for our brother Jim but for ourselves!  We should run these hills from where our help comes.  He has promised to be here for us.  Here we behold our salvation at the altar of God, eating and drinking his body and blood, proclaiming his death until he comes again.  Seeing again for ourselves, the salvation that God has worked for our sake.  Amen.

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

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