120708 Psalm 30:4-5

Last Updated on Sunday, 08 July 2012 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Text: Psalm 30:4-5

Theme: Three Things You Need When Attending a Christian Funeral Service
1. A Box of Tissues
2. A Bible
3. A Hymnal

Sing to the Lord, you saints of his; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

It's safe to say that most people don't like funerals. In general, people don't like to think about their own death, or the death of a loved one. At times, it is difficult for us to attend the funeral of someone, even someone who by God's grace was able to call themselves a Christian. Today we want to spend a few minutes talking about how we may prepare ourselves to attend the funeral of a fellow believer in Christ. Based on God's Word before us from Psalm 30 we will note three things you need when attending a Christian funeral. You will need a box of tissues, a Bible and a hymnal.

King David writes in verse of five of Psalm 30, "Weeping may remain for a night..." A more literal translation of these words is "weeping may come in at evening to lodge." The picture is that of a guest who comes to your house and stays for just one night. When we know that someone is coming over to spend the night, we have time to prepare. We go through a lot of work to get the house and their bed ready for them. But sometimes a guest might stop in without any warning, and ask to spend the night at our house. At those times we aren't prepared for an overnight guest, and it causes us some anxiety and distress to get things ready for them.

Sometimes in life we know that the death of loved one is coming. They have been sick and suffering for some time, and we have spent many hours and days in tears, preparing ourselves for their death. But sometimes death comes quickly. We haven't had the kind of time we would have liked to prepare for this death. In either case, at the time of death the tears begin to flow. Some may ask, "Why cry at the death of a believer? After all, that person is now in heaven with the Savior!" But remember that John in his Gospel tells us that Jesus himself cried when he heard the news of Lazarus' death. David, the writer of Psalm 30, also wrote this in Psalm 6, "I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow week with sorrow." When we attend a Christian funeral, we do need to bring a box of tissues along with us. There are tears to wipe away. The tears that are shed are not for the person, but tears for us who are left. We will miss the companionship of that person. We will miss seeing that person walking down the streets, or meeting that person here in God's house. This makes us sad. This causes tears. But, we can also say that they are tears of joy, for we know that because of Jesus that brother or sister in Christ is with the Lord forever in the perfect joys of heaven. Yes, when attending the funeral of a Christian, it is ok to bring a box of tissues.

The second item you will need when attending a Christian funeral is a Bible. For it is in the Bible, God's Word, that our loving God offers THE words of comfort and support that we need to hear at such a difficult time in our lives. We read these words from Psalm 30, "For his anger lasts only a moment..." Now you may immediately be thinking, "Wait a minute! Talking about the Lord's anger doesn't sound like a very comforting message for a funeral service!" It has been said that a preacher doesn't have to preach a lot of God's Law at a funeral. For as the casket stands in the front of the Church, it is clear for everyone to see that the wages of sin is death. The holy and just God in heaven demands perfection for those who would like to live with him forever in the perfect joy of heaven. When the perfect God looks down on sinful mankind, and sees the sin that is alive and well, then the words of Psalm 7 come to mind, "God is a righteous judge, a God who expresses his wrath every day. If he does not relent, he will sharpen his sword; he will bend and string his bow. He has prepared his deadly weapons; he makes ready his flaming arrows." This message of God's Law applies to all people, even the Christian. And this message of God's Law needs to heard, even at the funeral of a Christian. For it is the message of God's Law which clearly tells us what each and every one of us deserves because of our sin: Death!
The message of God's Law found in the Bible will not bring comfort at a funeral. But it is the tear drying message of the Gospel that brings true and lasting comfort. The comfort from God's Word for us in Psalm 30 is this, "For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime." By the grace of God, the Gospel message of the Bible tells us that we enjoy God's favor. At the death of a Christian, we replace tears of sadness with tears of joy, knowing that our fellow brother or sister in Christ is in heaven. Comfort and joy at the death of a fellow believer in Christ are possible not because of what the person accomplished while on this earth, but because of what a loving Savior accomplished for that person while he was on this earth. The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ went to the cross to offer his perfect life as the payment price for all sins. The Bible proclaims the joy of Easter morning, and how the grave could not hold our almighty Savior.

The Bible shares the Lord's promise that those who die believing in Jesus as their one and only Savior from sin will live forever, conquering death just as he conquered death that first Easter morning. The Bible is filled with comforting pictures of all believers living forever at the side of the Savior in heaven. One of those pictures is found in Revelation 21:1-5, "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'" When we attend a Christian funeral, we bring a box of tissues to wipe away the tears, but it is only the comfort of God's Word found in the Bible that is able to dry those tears completely, and turn our crying into shouts of thanksgiving and praise.

This brings us to the final thing you will want when attending a Christian funeral – a hymnal. The words of David before us are these, "Sing to the Lord, you saints of his; praise his holy name...weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." At a Christian funeral, we offer words of thanks and praise. We do not praise the person who has died for all that they accomplished in this life. Rather, we open our hymnals to raise our voices together in thanks and praise to Jesus Christ, our Savior. It is Jesus who fulfilled the promise the loving God made way back in the Garden of Eden to send the world a Savior. It is Jesus who won forgiveness of all sins. It is Jesus who opened wide the gates to eternal life. It is Jesus who offers to all who die in his name a life that will never end at his side in the perfect joy of heaven.

In response to this great love of our Savior-God, we open our hymnals to speak words of thanks, and sing familiar hymns of praise to him. We join to sing hymns which echo the hymn of all believers in heaven recorded for us in Revelation 7, where John writes, "After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: 'Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.' All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: 'Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!'"

So, the next time you attend a Christian funeral, make sure to take these three things along with you: Take a box of tissues, to wipe away the tears. Take a Bible, so that you may read the wonderful comfort only a gracious God is able to offer: forgiveness of sins and the resurrection to eternal life won by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Finally, take your hymnal, to offer praise and thanks to the loving, merciful and compassionate Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Join your voice with that of Kind David when he writes, "Sing to the Lord, you saints of his; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." Amen.

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Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

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