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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Funeral Sermon for Mark Heckman

I had been asked about this funeral sermon, so I thought I would provide a permanent place for it.  This sermon was preached May 23, 2011 here at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Goodland, KS.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer!!  AMEN!!

Let us pray!  Heavenly Father as we gather here to celebrate the life of our brother in Christ Mark.  May our hearts be enabled to hear Your Word spoken to our hearts today and comfort us as we mourn.  Though the veil of death separates us today from Mark, we are sure of the certain promise You made to us in our baptism that in being baptized into Your death we are certainly raised with You in Your resurrection.  Comfort us with this thought and let the salve of Your Gospel message surround us so we may hear clearly the Gospel message You proclaimed to Mark on the day of his baptism and which You proclaim here today in truth, purity and peace to Your saints, especially the saints of his family and those gathered here at Emmanuel.  AMEN.

Nearly 67 years ago as the world waited for the largest military force to date to make the most important invasion in World War II on mainland occupied France, Supreme Allied Commanding General Dwight David Eisenhower was shown in a famous picture talking with the troops.  I can only imagine the conversation, but the expression of passion, firm conviction and trust by the soldiers and even Ike in the men who would make that beach assault is tangible.  Everyone knew that many of the soldiers would ultimately lose their lives that day, but the trust each of them had in their leader and the plan spoke volumes and clearly connects with us and our text this morning.

In our lesson, Jesus, had just clearly stated He was destined for Jerusalem to be glorified.  Gathered together, the disciples overcome by grief because of hearing, but not fully understanding the plan of salvation, that Jesus would be betrayed, suffer and die in Jerusalem, the disciples are caught up in their own emotions and turmoil.  Blinded by their grief, unsure of what was to come the disciples hear the further words of Jesus.  Like with the soldiers who were comforted by Ike’s presence and words of encouragement, Jesus most powerful statement is a promise that Mark heard and we hear clearly today.  The promise offered to the disciples, Mark and to us today by Jesus is clear, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me”.

This promise of Jesus we lay claim to today as we say good bye to Mark.  For this promise Jesus made to His disciples and He also made it to Mark and to all of us.  We lay claim to this promise when we remember that Mark not only was a career soldier in the United States Army, he was also a soldier in God’s Army.  For in his baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, God called and claimed Mark as His own and opened the door to eternal life and fulfilled this great truth for him when Jesus called him home to heaven.

Mark clearly understood that Jesus Christ was the way in which all of us would come to the Father.  In his baptism Mark heard and heeded God’s call and remained faithful to spouse, country and church his entire life, modeling a faith active by sight and deed in his kindness and living a Christian life.  Mark modeled for his students at the Vo-Tech in the Diesel program, his fellow coffee drinkers at McDonald’s and others God’s continued activity in his life and his quiet faith.  For the promise Jesus made to the disciples, to Mark and to us today is that He, Jesus Christ has gone to prepare a place for us.  He has gone to prepare an eternal place, where we will in the loving arms of God bask in His eternal presence and dwell with Him for all of eternity.  This has been fulfilled for Mark today.

Yet, we like the disciples in the passage, while today we are walking in the valley in the shadow of death, mourning the loss of Mark, our brother in Christ, we sometimes question, have doubts and wonder how we can ‘get to the Father’?  As we can see from our lesson, we are no different than Philip and Thomas, but we have something they did not.  We have heard the complete story of the plan of salvation, celebrated the Lord’s Supper being established on Maundy Thursday, mourned like we do today Jesus death on Good Friday and boldly proclaimed Easter Sunday, “He is Risen!  He is Risen Indeed!  Alleluia!”  And in proclaiming this, Mark’s death that we mourn today no longer has dominion over us because Mark was signed, sealed and delivered from sin, death and the devil by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ through his baptism. 

With sure and certain hope we trust in God’s promise and see with the eyes of faith given to Mark and to us in our baptism, not only that Jesus is “the Way, the truth and the life”, but that today Mark now stands with the triumphant army of God.  He now rests from his service to country, church and to God.  And we trust our Lord and Savior and the promises He made to Mark in his baptism that God has prepared a place for him and now Mark “dwells in the house of the Lord forever.”  AMEN.

Now may the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard our hearts and minds and comfort us today, because of what Jesus Christ did in Mark’s life and ours!  AMEN!
//trial script