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Funeral for + Larry Owen Stevens +

08 Dec

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The text that Larry chose for his funeral is 1 Corinthians 15:20-28

[20] But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. [21] For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. [22] For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. [23] But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. [24] Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. [25] For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. [26] The last enemy to be destroyed is death. [27] For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. [28] When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

Here ends the text.

Shirley, James, Gary, Shana, Craig, Paulanne and Desi, family and friends of Larry, there is nothing I can say or do to change what happened Thursday morning. If I could, I’m not sure that I would change anything. The reason is this: Larry has received the crown of life won for Him by Jesus Christ. As much as we all want Larry to be with us today, it doesn’t seem right that he’s not. And you’re right, it doesn’t seem right because it’s not right. In fact, none of this is right. The reason why none of this is right is because of what Paul says: “For as by a man came death… For as in Adam all die….” The whole reason why we are here is because of death. God did not design creation to be in this state of sin and death. In fact, it was God’s plan for us to be in His presence for all of time. Unfortunately, due to Satan’s temptation of man, God and man would be separated. Because of Adam’s sin, that’s where we find ourselves, separated from God. But God would not be content in leaving us in that state of death.

Listen to what St. Paul writes regarding the resurrection: …by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead…. so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”Today is indeed a somber day but also a day of rejoicing, for Larry has been raised from the dead by Jesus Christ and His resurrection. And if that isn’t enough good news, you too will be raised from the dead by Jesus Christ, for He makes that promises to all those who believe in Him and call upon His name.

Christ our Lord has conquered death, once and for all. Throughout His earthly life, He faced many a foe bent on His destruction. They wanted nothing more than to see Jesus go away, and the only way to make sure He went away and stayed gone was by killing Him. That is the same thing that Satan wants of God’s creation, that they would die and stay dead. And so Satan becomes the great enemy of God and of the Christian. To that end, life becomes a great battlefield, with God on one side and Satan on the other. The prize: man’s eternal soul.

That battle between God and Satan is one that rages throughout all of creation. But that battle has been won. The Victor is none other than Jesus Christ, Son of God and creation’s Savior. Death was slain for Larry many years ago in His Baptism as God placed His name upon Larry and marked him as His very own child. But as Luther says, the Old Adam in us loves to pop his head up and remind us that we are very much a sinner. And so he writes, “…the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.”

But lest we think too highly of Larry and how great he was, he would be the first to tell us that he wasn’t anyone special. He wasn’t a saint in the sense that all he did was good and perfect; he would remind you that he wasn’t a saint. But at the same time, he was indeed a saint, a blood-bought and redeemed child of God, forgiven of all his sins. He never forgot that he belonged to God. He never forgot that he was forgiven. Week in and week out, he and Shirley would take their rightful place in their pew and hear that they were sinners condemned to die. But week in and week out, he and Shirley would take their rightful place in their pew and hear that they were sinners made clean by the blood of the Lamb.

And so here we are today. Gathered here, we see the full effects of sin at work in God’s creation as we come to the realization and fact that sin has claimed another, namely Larry. And if that isn’t depressing enough, one day, death will come for you and I as well. Death sweeps through all of creation, taking anyone and everyone with it. Not a single one of us will be spared from death, for death truly is the last enemy.

While death is the last enemy, death is not the victor; that tile goes to Jesus Christ. St. Paul says, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” Jesus defeats death, once and for all. Yes, we will certainly die an earthly death; there is no way of getting around that. In the early hours of Thursday morning, Larry succumbed to death. For as tragic as that was, Larry was the victor. Christ has been raised from the dead! He bore the sins of all to the cross and died, but rose again three days later. Larry’s sins, your sins, my sins, they alone are enough to keep you in the grave, but the sins of the world could not keep your Savior in the tomb. His resurrection proves that He has defeated sin and death.

Risen from the dead, He is the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. The firstfruits, meaning there are more to follow, namely all who trust in Him. For the one who dies, death is but a sleep. It is not the beginning of eternal loss, but a transition to eternal life. You and I see only grievous loss and separation, but death is defeated. Those who die in Christ are only sleeping.

As we mourn today, we also rejoice. Death, devil and the world are defeated, though not yet destroyed. You are living in between the defeat of your enemies and their destruction. You’re no match for them, but they’re no match for your Savior. Larry was no match for sin and death; he didn’t need to be, for in his place stood God in the flesh of Jesus Christ, with His blood washing over Larry, forgiving his sins, establishing a place for him in His eternal kingdom. Rejoice, for though Larry has died, he lives in all glory and splendor with the Holy Trinity and with all those saints who have gone before him, awaiting that great day when Christ our Lord calls all believers unto Him. Amen.

 

About Rev. Jared Tucher

I'm a Lutheran (LCMS) pastor serving in Gillette, WY.
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Posted by on December 8, 2016 in Funeral, Sermons

 

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