Funeral Sermon for Jeanette Mitchell – 11.19.22
+ In Memoriam – Jeanette Mitchell +
Psalm 23; Ecclesiastes 3:1-15; Romans 8:28-39; John 6:35-40
Beautiful Savior Lutheran
“A People Person”
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Every so often you meet someone and within the first five minutes, you feel like you’ve known them for fifty years. The kind of person you could sit down and visit with for hours and not notice where the time had gone. The kind of person who loved being with people, and people loved being with. A people person.
Seems to me that this is one of the gracious gifts God gave Jeanette. She was a people person. She loved to visit. And in our visits together, whenever I would bring holy communion to her, I learned all about her swimming in surprise lake and time on family homestead picking berries, but most of all, I learned that she loved people. She asked how friends and fellow saints were doing at church. Even when she could no longer make it to church, her thoughts and prayers were with the people she loved.
As close family and friends, you all know that far better and have experienced that joy far longer than I have. You know that good friends and loving family can be hard to find in this broken world, but that you found one in Jeanette. Whether she was at work or camping with family; whether she was caring for kids who came over to the house or those she called upon to share the gospel with in the community, Jeanette loved to visit.
And that kind of love only comes from one place. We love because Christ first loved us. And Jeanette would be the first to tell you that her love for others was the gracious fruit of the love that God planted and nurtured and gave to her. As St. Paul reminds us, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
If Jeanette was a people person, how much more is our Lord. Our Lord Jesus is the consummate people person. He loves to visit people with his gifts. He did so for Jeanette by calling her to faith in Him. He visited her with the new birth from above that came by the water and the Spirit in her baptism. Our Lord visited her with his word of the gospel shared with her throughout her life. Our Lord visited her with his forgiveness, life, and salvation every time she received his holy body and blood. And that word, Isaiah tells us, visits us as well, and through his word our Lord visits us with the same promises he gave to Jeanette.
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
Our Lord loves being with his people so much so that he became one with us and one of us, for us. For Jeanette. For you. Jesus took on human flesh. For the love of Jeanette and you, Jesus visited us in our brokenness of sin, in our frailty of life, and even in the depths of grief and the grave.
I imagine that is one of the things that brings us grief and tears on days like today. Knowing that death brings an all too painful interruption and end to our visiting and time together with Jeaneatte and with all who have gone before us. At least for now. Phone calls, conversations, visits may not endure long in this life, at least never as long as we would like them to, but, Solomon says, whatever God does endures forever.
And what God does best is visiting his people. Our Lord Jesus is the kind of God who loves being with his people. He was with Jeanette as she walked through this valley of the shadow of death. He was with her she fell asleep in death. He is with her and all the faithful departed forever. And he will be with us and visit us yet again when he calls forth our name and raises our bodies from the grave on the day of resurrection.
You see, our Lord Jesus is the Greatest visitor of all; the Greatest people person of all. As our Lord says in John 6, All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.40
For, as St. Paul declares to us, our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Our days of visiting in one another’s presence – and most of all, in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ – are still ahead of us. Death does not get the last word. Jesus does. And he died to destroy our sin, death, and the power of the devil. Jesus crucified and risen gets the last word and that word is “It is finished!” And, “Behold, I make all things new.”
That’s what our Lord’s visits us with, his promise, as he did for Jeanette, and all who die in the faith, an everlasting and enduring eternity; physical, bodily, resurrected, glorified new life in the presence of our Lord Jesus. Raised from the dead even as he rose from the dead. In a new, resurrected and glorified body even as is risen and glorified. A real, physical, bodily dwelling with Christ and one another. This is Christ’s promise to Jeanette and to you. For Jeanette and for you, our Lord Jesus is the kind of person who loves being with you, and in whose presence we will love being forever.
For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.