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Monday, April 7, 2014

04072014 Funeral Sermon for Rodney Ray Jarrett

Sermon Audio

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!  Gracious Heavenly Father, this morning we gather to mourn the death of Rodney and be comforted with the Gospel of Your Son and our Savior Jesus Christ.  As we gather we cannot fathom the meaning of numbers more fully than You, but Rodney truly loved You and shared not only the love of numbers, statistics and historical facts, but also His love and devotion of You with his family.  The fact is You entered into Rodney’s life in a personal way with his baptism and now at the harvest with his entrance into Your Kingdom.  Comfort us as we mourn with Your Holy Spirit to enable us to be covered by the salve of the Gospel offered to all of mankind, but especially Rodney’s family and friends gathered here to say goodbye.  AMEN.

January 1, 1941 began here in Goodland not unlike most years with the high temperature of 37.9ºF and a low of 24.1ºF and no moisture.  A warm front would arrive on January 11th with a high of 62ºF and like this year very little moisture in the forecast.  War would begin in Europe and with Japan before the year was out and President Roosevelt, would on January 6, introduce the Four Freedoms ideology and the new ‘lend-lease’ program that would eventually be fully implemented in World War II.  In Sports for 1941, Craig Wood would win the Master’s in Augusta over Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan and Sam Snead and have a take home purse all of $1500.  And since tonight is the Finals of the NCAA tournament, in 1941 Wisconsin would defeat Washington State 39-34 to claim the title of College Hoops Champs.  And yet on the 14th of January, Goodland, KS would welcome Rodney Ray Jarrett, a person who would grow not only to love numbers and statistics, but also sharing these fun facts with anyone who would listen.

The fact is Rodney loved facts and numbers so much he not only dealt with them on a daily basis in his business, he also loved historical facts and data as well, from wheat prices, weather trends to sharing his love of sports and golf, not only with his kids, but his grandkids as well.  Rodney not only loved his family, but he loved to tell everyone about his family and what they were up to in their lives and the pride he had of them and their accomplishments.  Having 6 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild you know Rodney never ran out of material about his family to tell anyone he would meet.  This past Friday, Carole, Scott, Rhonda, Jodi and I when we were at the house preparing for today talked about how there was many a time that Rodney would take trips, whether to California, to the mountains for snowmobiling, fishing and locally even drives in the country and stop in to see friends of their Dad.  Initially it was just to say hi, but we all know Rodney.  And we all know he loved to talk.  Hours later, whether at the friends house in the country, at McDonald’s over coffee, at his office when clients would stop for a minute and stay for an hour, or even while in the hospital conversations never seemed to have an end with Rodney.  I had the personal pleasure to see Rodney a few years ago in the hospital and I intended to stop by and talk for only a few minutes, but the consummate conversationalist Rodney and I talked for nearly an hour.

But for Rodney in all his conversations it was simple curiosity about life and all the things that were going on or had happened.  As well Rodney also loved how numbers intersected the topics, whether of weather, sports or even old cars and their value.  Flatlanders was an especially fun time for him to see cars that looked good and ran even better.  Rodney’s curiosity of this world, could only be quenched by One person and that was Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ redeemer of the World was the only one Who could walk with Rodney, never tire of talking and fully explain to him not only the meaning of life, but also fulfill the innate curiosity that made Rodney tick and who he was and the man we knew and loved.  Jesus Christ walked with Rodney his entire life throughout his marriage to Carole and their sharing the joys of three children, six grandchildren and one great grandchild for over fifty years of marriage.

Those are numbers, but the reality is you cannot put a number, nor value on what Jesus Christ meant to Rodney.  For it was in, through and by Rodney’s and our baptism into Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection that we are set free from the bonds of sin, death and the devil by the blood of the lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.  And Rodney knew and understood the value of that personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Whether it was taking communion here at Emmanuel or even most recently with his daughter and son-in-law in Nebraska, Rodney’s faith in what Jesus Christ did for him on Calvary was very clear and as Romans says, “nothing could separate him from the love of God in Christ Jesus.”  This was not only a fact, but also a reality that we connect with today through our use of the pall.  The pall we cover the casket with this morning is symbolic of this intimate relationship that God has with Rodney more fully today and that God offers each of us in Holy Baptism.

If there is one thing that Rodney was unafraid to do it was to talk, share his love of numbers as well as his love of all his family and his love of sports.  Rodney’s willingness to share is a trait we Christians sometimes shy away from, because we are afraid of rejection, but I believe Rodney did not know a stranger.  His charismatic nature melted away the fear one had and easily allowed him to strike up a conversation with anyone, anywhere, even over the phone.  Though his conversations might not have started or ended with faith as a topic, I would venture that there was a curiosity for Rodney in what heaven was like.  All of us can probably imagine, Rodney up in heaven now not only catching up with people he hasn’t seen in years, but also noticing the perfection that surrounds him, whether by the streets paved with gold, the meals that are made with only the finest food and clearly endless numbers of whatever the heart desires. 

If there is one number that Rodney could not easily define, it would be ‘infinity’.  Daily he made calculators and computers hum, because he was figuring out so many different business transactions and dealings, but the number of infinity when applied to the love that God had for Rodney and for each of us baffles the mind.  God’s love is so infinite that we cannot measure it, we cannot place a value on it, nor can we fathom the depth to which God would go for us.  But as we heard from our readings, both from Paul in Romans and David in the Psalms, ‘nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus’ and that promise is and was made to Rodney in his baptism.  For the comfort we find today as we venture in this valley of the shadow of death, we should not fear because God is not far away, He is right here carrying us, shielding us and protecting us.  God is fulfilling the Psalmist words for each of us gathered here today.

For it is the Gospel that we lay claim to and understand more fully especially today when we understand, Jesus Christ offered Himself on the Cross of Calvary for Rodney and for you and me.  When Jesus Christ stretched out His holy arms and was nailed to the cross that is what He was willing to do in order to set us free.  For it is this gift of grace that God offers out of His great love for us.  God’s love is so infinite it cannot be measured, cannot have a number value based nor assigned to it.  And this is the one number that even Rodney is probably scratching his head over in heaven.  For God’s love is so infinite and it should comfort us as we mourn, for this is what the Gospel is capable of, comforting our hearts and allowing the Holy Spirit to be the salve of the Gospel of salvation offered for all of mankind.  But especially for all the saints of Rodney’s family and friends gathered here to say goodbye.  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 for Rodney and each one of us!  AMEN!

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