Funeral Sermon for Dan Evans
October 29, 2020
Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID
This afternoon I want to speak a little bit about this man. Some of you know him well, others not as much, and some wish there was more time to get to know him. His voice, the words he spoke were important. There were those who heard his voice, his commentary, a quote filled with wisdom that sometimes even stung with the truth. He was a good man, a godly man, who loved his family and his friends. He would give so much of himself for those who he loved. Above all, he wanted to make a difference, to be remembered as a man who made a difference in the world. He wanted to be involved in the important times of people’s lives, and he was, and he is. We are here today because of him. This man, of course, of whom I’m speaking, is Jesus.
But Jesus is not just a man. He is God in the flesh, the One who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who prepares a place in His eternal kingdom for those who believe in Him, that the world might be saved through faith in Him and not condemned because of their sin. The only way to get there is through faith in Jesus. If you try to get in on your own, by being good and doing the right things in life, it won’t cut it. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus, who is the Way and the Truth and the Life.
Dan knew this Way. Dan knew this Truth. Dan knew this Life. This shaped the way he lived.
Even in the last years of his life, when Dan’s memories were fading, when dementia took hold of mind, God’s gift of faith still belonged to him. Not dementia, not sin, not even death is able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Because Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.
Today, we remember Jesus and what Jesus has done for Dan and what Jesus has done for you. As Dan is remembered by those who loved him, whom he loved and cared for in this body and life. More important, and more to the point, he was and is remembered by the Lord, who called him by name in Holy Baptism, who pursued him all his days, and gathered him to Himself in heavenly glory.
For some reason, Dan wanted included in his biography for his 80th, and now it is in his obituary, that he had worked his way up to attendance captain in elementary school. While that may be a random fact of his life, attendance was important to him. Showing up and being present was important, and still is. If you want to honor Dan and his memory, he would want to you to attend and be present, with each other not just today, but throughout your life, and in the most important thing in his life, which is eternity with Christ.
Today at this memorial service for Dan, we look at death and call it what it is. It is an enemy. It is caused by sin. It is not very good. It is not what God intended for us. It is the work of the devil who is a murderer (John 8:44). And it is defeated. And at this memorial service, we look at the Life of the World, and call it what it is. In the middle of mourning and sadness, we celebrate the resurrection life of Jesus Christ, and what this means for Dan who has died. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25).
Jesus resurrection is the firstfruits of the resurrection that all Christians will experience (1 Corinthians 15:23). The risen and ascended Lord will return in glory to raise up our bodies. So St. Paul tells us that, “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” (Philippians 3:21). This is the life that we celebrate at a Christian funeral.
John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” For Christ is risen. He is risen indeed, alleluia!