Home > Uncategorized > Sermon for the Funeral of +Cordelia Marling+

Sermon for the Funeral of +Cordelia Marling+

8 July, 2014

2 Corinthians 5:1-15


Note: the audio for this sermon can be heard by clicking on the embedded player below

or by downloading by right clicking the link below.

Sermon for the Funeral of Cordelia Marling.mp3


Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

The text for the sermon is the epistle reading for today from 2 Corinthians chapter 5 and what an appropriate text for us to hear today in the wake of Cordelia’s passing. Not only was the last verse of this reading Cordelia’s confirmation verse, the whole of this text really seems to speak to how she lived as a daughter of our Heavenly Father and our sister in Christ Jesus.

In his first letter to the Christians in Corinth, Paul finished with chapter 15, the great resurrection chapter. Paul described how Christ Jesus was raised in His body and appeared to the Peter and the twelve and some 500 other disciples before He ascended, and went on to make the point that if Christ is not raised then our faith is in vain, but Christ has been raised, he argued that as in Adam all men die, in Christ all are made alive, raised in a resurrection body, and Paul finished with saying that what is sown perishable is raised imperishable, we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, death is swallowed up in victory, thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Those are just the highlights of Paul’s great crescendo that is first Corinthians, chapter 15.

And that is the true hope we have today as we celebrate all that God has done in and through our sister in Christ, Cordelia. This was the content of Cordelia’s faith, a faith she knew so well all her life, and from which she took such comfort especially in her later years when her life was so much harder.

But our reading is from Paul’s second letter to the Christians in Corinth. Paul had to write a second letter to the Christians in Corinth because even after his great depiction of the resurrection of the body. It sounds like people got Paul’s first teaching about our immortality wrong. Some readers over the years have misunderstood Paul here thinking that he longed to be released from the bonds of physical existence, to live as nothing but a spirit not limited to the confines of a bodily existence. But that’s a misreading. Paul is expressing his frustration with the limitations and disabilities of living under the curse of death after the sin of Adam knowing as he did that he had been created for and was promised to possess a spiritual body perfectly suited to the geography of the new creation. Paul is seeking freedom from a bondage to decay not from any and every form of bodily existence. After all, we believe and agree with what we say in the Apostles’ Creed we believe in the “resurrection of the body.”

And yet Paul groaned in his tent. He was frustrated with how our bodies, corrupted by sin, break down. Cordelia, too, knew all too well the tent in which we groan. A body and mind corruptible and subject to decay and decline. Oh, how she longed with St. Paul here to put on her heavenly dwelling, a new body, incorruptible and imperishable, to be clothed with immortality “so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” Like a lot of our shut-ins, I’ve only just come to know Cordelia a little bit over the past year and, of course, I never knew her as many of you remember her as she was here happy to be in the Lord’s house. We’ve got the signal flags up in the narthex because we’re in the middle of Vacation Bible School this week and several commented last night, that it would be okay to leave those up, that Cordelia delighted in knowing that children were learning about Jesus. I may not remember her as some of you so but I do know that she appreciated my visits to bring the Word of God to her and very much appreciated receiving the Lord’s Supper. When she was having a good day she’d follow along with the communion liturgy quite well as we confessed our sins and heard the Word of God together. Even when she was having a not so good day, we could still pray the Lord’s Prayer together and she’d mouth the Word of Institution with me as I said them over the elements. Showing that what we learn first, we forget last. Cordelia was not just a nice church lady but a woman whose faith was always informed by the Scriptures, a faith that trusted in the love of God shown in the cross of Christ Jesus. She was an example of someone who had received the Holy Spirit as that guarantee Paul talks about that there is more to this life than what we see and that while this life is hard and we suffer the effects of sin in this corruptible body, we trust that one day, we will be in the imperishable body promised for us. Sin corrupts our bodies and death even divides body from spirit but nothing separates us from love of God in Christ Jesus.

Isn’t that what we just sang in the last verse of the hymn, “Thy love unknown / has broken ev’ry barrier down; / Now to be Thine, yea, Thine alone, / O Lamb of God, I come, I come. (LSB 570:6)

The love of God is the source and motivation for all of Paul’s work as a follower of Christ, a faithful apostle and tireless missionary. “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;” and we have arrived at Cordelia’s confirmation verse, “and [Christ] he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” Paul’s view was this: that dying with Christ should lead to living for Christ. Paul is speaking all “who live” in union with the resurrected Christ. As we said together at the beginning of the service today, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” The practical outcome of this Christian self-denial is a Christ-centered life filled with concern for others.

None of us does this perfectly. Paul didn’t. Cordelia would say of herself that she certainly didn’t. I certainly don’t live this way nearly as much as I would like. And yet, often we do this, not because we‘re working hard but because God is hard at work in us and is effecting this work by the Holy Spirit each day, combating not only the temptation to sin around us but giving us victory over the power of sin, even over death itself. Paul says elsewhere, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” (Rom 8:11) God’s work in us by the Holy Spirit anticipates and guarantees His future completion of that work. Remember, “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Phil 1:6)

So that is what we have today: encouragement from the apostle Paul to live a life that pleases God. Too often, even we Christians, live to please others and to please ourselves, neglecting the one thing that makes life worth living—pleasing God. And remember that living to please God is not living under the burden of the Law but trusting in the Word of God’s undeserved favor toward us, trusting in the forgiveness of sins, trusting in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit as it was working in Cordelia all her life as it is in your life. Let that truth comfort you in the days and weeks to come as we mourn Cordelia’s death, remembering that nothing can separate us from God and we can look forward to the day we meet Him face to face. Amen.

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

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