Saturday, November 17, 2012

Jan Manuel Funeral

+ In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti + Amen.

Text: John 14:2-3
Theme: A Place…In His House

Dear family, friends, and loved ones of Jan; Nicolle, Deb, Kerri; and especially you, John,

Here we are at a time we never thought could come so soon. But we are naïve to speculate about things which are the jurisdiction of the Almighty alone. Today we are witnesses to the power of death but He bids us to believe what we cannot yet see. Jan Manuel has been freed from the tyranny of death. She has been released from the cruelty of decay. She participates in the victory over sin. Love has conquered. Christ has triumphed. The resurrection of Christ is the bedrock of truth. Jan has crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land. She has entered the heavenly Jerusalem. She has gone to the Father. She has come home. She is at rest.

It is no overstatement to call death a tyranny. It seeks total domination. The journey to life is hazardous. Sometimes death creeps in gradually, hardly noticeable; barely perceptible. For others death descends darkly and swiftly overcoming its victim. For Jan there wasn’t even time to come to terms with the shock of a terminal diagnosis. Her farewells to loved ones and friends were limited by the severity of her decline. No one should carry guilt for having missed the opportunity to give her a personal good-bye.

The suddenness with which she was afflicted is a warning to us all. Life is fragile. There are no guarantees. Each day is a gift. Ageing, decline, and decay; tragedy, disease and calamity are not the natural risks of human existence, they are the consequence of sin’s power. The world in which we live is not idyllic; it is fallen. It is not in jest that the Bible warns so many times and in so many ways to flee from the temptations and unbelief of the world and humbly repent before the Almighty God. We can be saved by His grace alone. There are no alternatives.

Following her initial diagnosis Jan was too shaken to attend church that Sunday. Human capacity has its limits. But God has His resources. He turns tragedy into opportunity. He sends aid to the afflicted. Ten year-old granddaughter Brailey came to her bedside with a printed copy of the sermon. Proficiently pushing through the big words she read to Jan the message of the day. It was no small example of how to order one’s priorities when facing mortality. God has something to say about death. No human opinions really matter.

The words of the most eloquent orator, the most experienced counselor, or the closest of friends cannot give comfort to the one who grieves bitterly at the time of tragic loss. Human speech, though well-intended and sincere- is hollow in the face of such anguish. But we are not here to politely tolerate the clichés of mere mortals. We are here to be comforted and carried by the voice of the Holy Spirit and the decrees of the Son of God. He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies.”1 He said, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”2 Only He was nailed to a cross and breached the vault of death. Easter sunrise revealed the Son of God had risen.

Now either we stake our confidence on these truths or we are just playing games, going through religious rituals and formalities. The Scripture says, “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angles nor demons, neither the present nor the future, not any powers, neither height nor depth, neither anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”3

Jan knew His love and she expressed it to others. Jan was a wife to one, a mother to three (and their spouses), a grandmother to eight, and a beloved friend to too many to name. She fulfilled all these vocations and many more in life and in death remains honoured by those she served. She served graciously, eloquently, patiently, sacrificially, and always humbly- forever putting others first. She loved her family unconditionally. She was gracious to all. Even more significantly, Jan was baptized as God’s child. She was found regularly in His house. She lived her faith.

It was a faith she held in common with many here today. With Christians throughout the centuries we confess that we believe in the resurrection of the body. Jan’s body, attacked and decimated by the evil of cancer and the power of sin, will nevertheless be resurrected – perfected in glory. Job makes the bold profession, “I know that my Redeemer lives and that in the end He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes.”4 St Paul says it with equal conviction stating that the Lord Jesus Christ, “will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.”5

Grief is inevitable for those who live on. Yet Scripture reminds us that believers do not “grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.”6 The Christ, in whose unveiled presence Jan now resides, is the same Lord who meets us in this place. John, here, at the altar, you will celebrate with the most certainty Jan’s life and anticipate your reunion with her. Your memories of her will always be cherished. You will visit her grave and there you will reminisce, reflect, and grieve. But here at this altar you will remember her not just as she was; you will participate in a preview of what she now enjoys. In heaven there will be no need for memories for life will be complete and perfect in a timeless existence of joy that does not end.

Too soon departed, Jan would nevertheless not have us weep long at her grave. The coffin contains only her shell, Jan lives immortally. The love, acceptance, peace, and joy she now experiences we can only imagine. Jesus said on the way to the cross, “Do not weep for Me.”7 Now from the throne, He has wiped the tears from Jan’s eyes. God grant that our tears of sorrow would be mixed with tears of joy trusting that all that we have lost has been more than compensated for in what Jan has gained. In the name of Christ whose mercy is inexhaustible, Amen.

+ In nomine Jesu +

Christian Burial of Janice Lorraine Manuel
12 November 2012
Reverend Darrin L. Kohrt

1 John 11:25
2 Revelation 1:17-18
3 Romans 8:38-39
4 Job 19:25-26
5 Philippians 3:21
6 1 Thessalonians 4:13
7 Luke 23:28

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