Apr 21, 2017 – Ron Selvey Funeral
Dear Donna, Rhonda, Roger, Peggy, Cammie and all the gathered family and friends and colleagues, grace mercy and peace to you, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is a difficult day; it’s an unwanted day; it’s certainly a day unlike any other. While each of our days has its own sorrows and troubles, along with joys and delights, this particular day among days is unique for its grief as we mark the passing from this life of your husband, your father and our friend.
When I learned that there was to be a highway patrol honor guard today, I thought about how good that would be. It seemed fitting and proper to do. To have these people in uniform paying respect to a fellow officer, one who was beloved and esteemed by all who knew him for the type of man he was, both in his unit and in his community. It put me in mind of another officer, of another man in uniform. Listen to the words from Luke 7: 2 Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. 3 When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, 5 for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.”
Those remarkable words of the elders to Jesus – He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation and he is the one who built us our synagogue, these words would fit Ron as well. We know Ron loved the Christian church, as the centurion loved the Jewish nation. And like the centurion, Ron helped to build our place of worship at Zion Lutheran Church. Heavens, he hosted the church in his own home in the early days, while he helped to literally build our sanctuary.
I know the family has vivid memories of those days, of that time in Ron’s life. I’ve heard some wonderful stories and I encourage you all to continue to tell those stories together. Please share your memories of Ron with his family in the days to come. And at the close of the service we will hear from particular members of his family. Today, however, my task is not to recall stories of Ron, but to point us to the Savior that Ron trusted in and whom he loved.
As I said Ron helped to found and build Zion Lutheran Church. He did that as a witness and a testimony to the Lord who has redeemed him. In his baptism, Ron was made a child of our heavenly father, by the great exchange of the righteousness of Jesus Christ for Ron’s own unrighteousness. Ron had seen and experienced the effects of sin in this world and in his own life. Ron knew and understood that we’re all in need of mercy, we all need to be made whole and renewed in our relationship with God.
And the only way that happens is by the gift of God in sending His Son to die on the cross and to rise again to new life. Having just come through Lent and Easter, we’re all the more mindful of the death that Jesus stepped into in our place, and Ron’s place, and took on Himself the punishment we all deserved for our own sin and rebellion. And in doing that and rising again from the dead to His glorious resurrection, Christ has made Ron’s freedom, and our hope on this day, sure and certain.
Today also is unique in that it’s a day none of us wanted to see come this soon. Today’s a day of saying goodbye to a loved one. And saying a final goodbye is not what we’re created for is it? We were created for life, not death and death is an unwelcome intruder into the relationships we’ve been created for.
Because of the resurrection of Christ, death, while real and does separate us from our loved ones, death has lost its eternal sting for us through that assurance of the resurrection. By the grace of His Holy Spirit, Jesus comes and brings that assurance to us. As the reading from the book of Job today told us,
“after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God.” That promise of the resurrection, which Job declared from ancient times, is as real and sure for us now as it was for him then. That promise is ours through the strong Word of God alone. Today we have that hope that supports us in our grief and loss. And it assures both that Ron is at rest from his suffering and pain in the arms of his Lord, and that we will be reunited with him in the coming resurrection that Jesus promises is ours.
You know I mentioned that Ron helped to build our sanctuary, and in the reading from 2nd Corinthians we’re told that, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built with human hands. That house is built for us by Jesus.
In the reading from John’s gospel, Christ tells us, And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. That is where Ron is now. And that is where we will be, in the Lord’s time. That is Jesus’ promise to us. Jesus has taken the initiative and He gathers us to Himself, where we’re set free from the power of sin, Satan, suffering, and death. Jesus has overcome death by His blood on the cross. And by His word and promise we’ve received His total assurance of forgiveness of all our sin. We receive that, not because we’ve done anything to deserve it, but because Jesus chose to do that in our place.
The fact is, that He has set us free, and with that freedom comes hope. That resurrection life in Christ is what Ron put his hope in while he was here with us. He demonstrated that hope. But now he is beyond the need for hope. Instead he has the reality of Who he hoped in! Ron is beyond hope, beyond faith, beyond pain, beyond suffering. Ron now has possession of Jesus’ promise to him that He would come and take Ron to be with Himself.
Ron no longer has need for faith or hope, he has Jesus’ promise in the presence of His Lord. In Jesus coming to earth as an infant to be born, grow, die and rise again, in all this we see, we see the unfailing love of God. And that, the love of God, is what gives us hope in this day of tears.
Again, this is not a day we wanted to see come because of the sorrow we must endure, but it is day of hope nonetheless. It is a day of triumph nonetheless. And it is that because we know to a certainty that Ron now has heaven as his inheritance and we are sure of that because we are sure of God’s word of promise to us.
Yes, this day has its sorrow, as it should. But it is also a day to be reminded that all who put their trust, as Ron did, in the saving work of Jesus on the cross, share in Christ’s eternal life. May you know and be reminded this day, of the total forgiveness of all your sins and of God’s love and care for you. As Jesus tells us today that He is, the way, the truth and the life, Ron now has that eternal life, by the power of Jesus’ blood. Ron, now lives in the ‘eternal now’ with the Lord, which is the fulfillment of the promise that comes by faith in Jesus Christ alone.
Christ has taken the sting of death and replaced it with the assurance of everlasting salvation. May you be comforted and consoled this day, in the hope of Jesus Christ, which is yours by grace through faith alone. In Jesus name, amen.
Sermon #887 Rev. Thomas A. Rhodes, Pastor – Zion Lutheran Church, Bolivar, MO
Pastor: Psalm 23
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.
Reading from Philippians 1:20-21
Pastor: It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Reading from Job 19:23-27
Pastor: 23 “Oh, that my words were recorded,
that they were written on a scroll,
24 that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead,
or engraved in rock forever!
25 I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.
26 And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
27 I myself will see him
with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
Reading from 2nd Corinthians 5:1-10
Pastor: For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 We live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
Reading from the Gospel of John
Pastor: John 14: 1-6
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”