In Memoriam + Irene Simmons
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
June 18, 2014
Central Passage
John 3:1-15

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The real trouble with death is that we can no longer talk to our loved ones. They are gone from us, removed from our lives. No more phone calls. No more letters or cards. No more popping in for a visit. No more conversation. Their tongue is stilled and their ears have gone deaf. While they lived we talked and laughed, sometimes cried and argued. But there was always tomorrow. There was always the anticipation of our next reunion and our next conversation. Now these tomorrows and possibilities are gone. What’s been said has been said and what’s been done has been done – for better or for worse – and there is no way to add to it or take away from it. And we would be lying if we said that this doesn’t make us feel guilty about how we spent our time – or didn’t spend our time – with those with whom there is no more time.

It is this truth about death – that there is no more time – that drives us to hug our loved ones a little tighter and revel a little longer in their companionship and camaraderie.

But no matter how often we hug or how much time we spend with them, how much attention we give to them, when death comes we know that it wasn’t enough, even if our loved one was almost 96 years old. We always want more time. We lament and worry over missed opportunities and spoiled ones; spoiled with arguing and fighting. And we cherish those happy memories of time well spent, times of joy and even contentment with one another. And we promise to do better, to spend more time with loved ones and make better memories with those that are still with us. But our resolve to do better lasts only for a time.

The hurt of death begins to fade as life resumes its normalcy. The fear of no tomorrows grows dim as days go by and plans are made for the future. Life goes on, as it is said. Not that we forget our loved ones who have died, we don’t. And while it’s not true that time heals all wounds, it is true that our pain subsides, our panicked worry begins to fade. And this is good in way. It’s good because our hearts can only handle so much grief. But it’s also good because it gives witness to the gospel, that life is not dead and that our loved ones who die in the Lord are not truly lost to us. This death is only a sleep; a sleep from which we cannot awaken the sleeping, but from which the Lord Jesus will awaken them and us on the Last Day, the Day of the Resurrection. Life does indeed go on.

Life goes on because Jesus is the life of the world and He is not dead but is alive forevermore!  This is the life, the life of Christ, into which we are baptized, into which Irene was baptized: born again of water and the Spirit, born to an eternal life that never fades away because it is kept for us in Christ Jesus who lives and reigns forever and ever, world without end.

That is why we do not mourn as those who have no hope. We have hope. Our Savior is on the horizon and He is speedily coming to gather us to Himself. The Lord Jesus who died for our sins and removes from us our trespasses and guilt, lifted up as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, is coming again to wake the dead, to rouse the sleeping, and to unite us together with them in the eternal kingdom of His Father, giving eternal life to all who wait for Him. So it is written, Blessed are those who wait for the Lord! We wait for the lord by hearing His word, by gathering to Him and participating in His heavenly mysteries and receiving His benediction.

And when we have waited and the Father sends forth His Son once again, not to atone for sin but to gather His children, then we will talk again. Then the stopped tongues and deafened ears of those who sleep in the Lord will be loosed and open and we will again find joy with them and with all the saints and our joy will be full. Then we will visit and laugh and enjoy one another without regret, without our fears or their fears there to cause fighting and bickering. For our sins have been removed from us as far as the East is from the West. We will not be afraid that there will be no tomorrow. We will not worry that our last conversation will be our last. We will live in the peace now proclaimed, the peace of the Lord, that death no longer reigns over us but life reigns in us for we who have been baptized have been given the Spirit of Life and the promise of eternal life.

Which means you don’t need to live in regret or fear of your sins. Not that you’ve done nothing wrong or that we go on sinning, but that Jesus makes all things new; giving you a new birth and a new life by His eternal Spirit. Being thus born again, born from on high, we – with our sister, Irene – shall inherit the kingdom of God and live with Him who is the resurrection and the life, Jesus, the Son of God.

+ In Nomine Isu +