Saturday, December 22, 2012

Julie Burnett Funeral Sermon

In the Name of Christ Jesus, our Advent King +
          Jerry, Renia, Dennis, and Jereamy, family and friends of our sister in Christ Julie – Grace, mercy, and peace be unto from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Amen.  Our Lord said, “My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”  Well, here we are, on the verge of Christmas, which as we all know was on Julie’s favorite times of year.  In fact, just for me, myself, my memories of Julie will always be tied to this time of year, actually to the parish hall, chit-chatting with her whenever one of her grandkids would be in the old Pre-school Christmas programs.  And so it’s bitter sweet today, being so close to Christmas.  But Christmas itself gives us a bit of perspective on Julie’s life, Julie’s love for us, and where Julie is right now.
          A lot of things get talked about come Christmas time.  There’s a lot of talk about family and such – but as you all know, family wasn’t just a Christmas-time thing for Julie.  She gave love and care to her family all the time.  And while I know that she loved the family getting together, the celebrations and all that, there was more to her for the season than just that.  Christmas was always centered right here, in the evening, singing Christmas carols.  And those songs we’ve sung so many times, those songs we will sing again have a wonderful purpose.  The real focus, the real wonder, the thing that is the center and heart of all those carols that Julie loves is this – Christ Jesus comes down from heaven and is born – and why?  So that He can give life to the world.  What we sing, it all points to this truth, that Jesus Christ is true God, come down from heaven to be our Brother, to give us life in Him.
          Christ Jesus gave His sister Julie His own life.  He supported her, He held her in His care all of her days.  And I don’t mean just in the times that were rough, the times that were hard and scary.  All of her days.  God gave her a husband, and God gave her strength to love and share her life with that husband.  God gave her children, and He gave her life to care for those children.  And when God gave her grandchildren, she lived the life that God had given her for them with great joy.  But do not think for a moment that Jesus gave Julie life only for a few years.  No, when Jesus came down from heaven that first Christmas, it wasn’t just to improve our lives now – He came so that He might suffer and die for us all, so that He might rise for us, so that He might win us life everlasting – even as He has won Julie life everlasting.
          This is what Jesus Himself says.  “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”  Right here, Jesus is speaking of Julie.  She belongs to Christ, was given to Him in Holy Baptism, united to Him, is part of His own Body.  And His promise to Julie stands – she is with Him now, and come the last day, He will raise her from the dead, and we will be united again in Christ for all eternity.  She is not lost – she is in Christ’s care.  And as much as I know she enjoyed our Christmas Eve services here – well, the hosts of heaven are better carolers than us.  We’ll sing about the angels, she’s hearing and singing with the angels sing right now.  While we mourn, while we have sorrow, and we’re still going to have sorrow and mixed emotions in the days to come, she’s not.  She’s getting ready for the Christmas of her everlasting life.  Christ’s promises to her still stand.
          The same Christ Jesus who came down from heaven to win salvation for Julie, He has won it for you.  You are His, He has claimed you.  “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”  God the Father has shown you His Son – He has made you to know that Jesus came down from heaven to win you salvation, and the same promises given to Julie are given to you.  What we will be singing these next few days – they aren’t just pretty songs.  They tell the story, the truth, the fact that Christ Jesus came for all of us here, that He came so that we might know Him for all eternity, that we might be with Him and His servant Julie for all eternity.  We mourn now.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  We right now are suffering a loss.  But what we also remember is this – it’s not a permanent loss.  And why?  Because Christ Jesus would not let it be, because He would not sit by and let His creation be tarnished by sin and death, and so He came down from heaven.  The Christmas songs we sing – these are really songs of promise, God’s promise to us that He would give us life just beyond our days here, life eternal with Him.  Julie sees the promise of those songs now – we, we have to wait a bit longer.  But the promises are true – God’s love for Julie is true, the love He showed you through her is true, and the love He has for you in Christ Jesus is still true.  The peace that the angels proclaimed that first Christmas night is the same peace that means you will see Julie again, because the Prince of peace has come to be her God and to be your God.  Because of that, we too are free in Christ to give thanks and praise to God, even in the midst of our mourning, for the great love He has shown to Julie, and the love that He has shown us through Julie.
All praise dear Lord for Julie/  who was so quick to care
For all her friends and family/ that you gave to her here
May we with like devotion/ be bold to show forth love
Until we join the angels/ in praising You above
Now, may that same peace, which surpasses all human understanding, keep your hearts and minds upon Christ Jesus our Lord.  Amen +

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