Saturday, 25 February 2006

A Time for Everything: a Funeral Sermon—for Lilah Head with reference to Ecc 3 and John 14

There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven. There was a time for Lilah to be born and we’re happy for that. We’re here to celebrate a long life with all the marvelous mixture of planting and harvesting, tearing down and rebuilding, crying and laughing, dancing, scattering and gathering, embracing, searching, losing, keeping and throwing away, tearing and mending, quiet times and speaking up that came with it. The fruit of that life is a long marriage, an extensive family and this celebration as we remember Lilah, thank God for her and honour her.

There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven. There is also a time to die. For Lilah, that time has come. So as we celebrate, we also grieve and come alongside John and their family in their sadness.

There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven. For us, this is the time to commend Lilah into the hands of God.

This is also a God-given time for us to ponder the weighty matters of life and death and God. Does it matter how we live our lives? Does it matter what we believe? What happens when we die? Is this all there is? For Lilah all those questions have now been answered. We who are left behind continue to live with them.

Here are two ways of coming to terms with them. One way is to do our best to ignore them and just hope for the best. Another is to use occasions like this to explore such questions.

This afternoon we’ve said, sung and heard a number of definite statements that warrant serious attention:

In the Psalm:
Put your trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and feed on its riches.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he shall give you your heart’s desire.
Commit your way to the Lord and put your trust in him, and he will bring it to pass.
He will make your righteousness as clear as the light
and your just dealing as the noonday.

Is that true?

And then we sang about a Lord being crucified and dying to save us all, that he did that for us, that we might be forgiven and go at last to heaven, saved.

Is that true?

And then we heard the words of Jesus in John’s gospel: I am going to prepare a place for you in my Father’s home, when everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. I am way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father (and one of those rooms) except through me.

Is that true?

Are we prepared to bet our lives on the possibility that it isn’t?

If it is, we must get in touch with Jesus and confirm our reservation without delay. Our eternal lives depend on it and our time to die might be sooner than we think. Tomorrow might be too late.

Where is Jesus to be found these days? In His Body, the Christian Church. Find a good one and track Jesus down. He’s nearer than you might think. If you want to talk to someone about it, talk to John Head—he’s one of the most faithful and knowledgeable followers of Jesus I know.

There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven. Thanks to God’s gift of Lilah we have this time to think these things.