Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Christian Burial of Colin Kruger (18 November 2013)

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

Text: Matthew 6:33
Theme: First Things First

Dear family, friends and loved ones of Colin; Marilyn, Adrian, Debbie, and especially you, Sylvia,

King David says in his 139th Psalm, “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”1 Colin has flown home. Guided not by homing pigeons but lifted on the wings of angels. Powerful and mighty how swiftly do they bear the departed soul into the presence of God! Colin is now held fast at God’s right hand. What remains before us is a shell; an earthy frame that will be resurrected on that great and glorious day. Thanks be to God that Colin’s race of faith has ended. He is at rest. He is in peace.

We gather now with mingled tears; tears of sorrow, tears of thanksgiving, tears of emptiness, and tears of hope. Draping the casket is a lifetime of memories. Transparent to the eye but vivid to the heart memories help to carry us through our grief. But regardless of how cherished they are memories cannot sustain our courage. There are no shortcuts in grieving. The heart, and mind, and will must come to terms with the most traumatic of human experiences. We can grieve with others but we cannot grieve for them. The dark path of grief is traversed only with the light of truth.

To reflect upon the death of another is to reflect on our own mortality. No one will sidestep the grave’s portal. Denial or apathy will accomplish nothing in the end. The hard reality is that physical death is the result of sin. Everyone must succumb to its power of decay. Everyone must face the power of sin’s condemnation. If reflection on death does not humble us and cause us to desire God’s mercy then we haven’t truly understood the gravity of what confronts us. What are a few fleeting years on this earth compared with eternity?

Time heals wounds and presses us ahead into the future. And it is not a future bereft of hope. Christians look to the future as a time of restoration and reunion. Without Christ that is not possible. Here the core Christian truth crushes all alternatives and allows no competitors. Without Christ’s resurrection- which was the validation of His sacrificial death for sinners- a funeral can be nothing more than a tribute to the person who once lived- but a hollow and haunting realization the end has come.

Without Christ hope is but an illusion. We know intuitively that death is final. As humans we don’t have the power to rise above this. We can only flee in denial, wallow in resentment, bathe in self-pity, or retreat to fantasy. We can live on in bitterness or depression. But the Holy Spirit proclaims to us a cross and the One who was nailed to it. He died as a common criminal and had He stayed dead that would be the end of the matter. But on Easter morning the grave was empty. Death had lost its sting. The power of sin had been broken.

Colin knew his sins were forgiven. He knew how they were forgiven. He knew why they were forgiven. He understood that he could never cover the debt of his own transgressions; that he could never merit God’s favour even by his best efforts or intentions. Colin, like all the saints before him, passed through the gates of heavenly solely on the merits of the Lamb who was slain for the sins of the world. Grace is not our achievement or an obligation that is owed to us. Grace is a gift secured only by the sacrifice of the One who was holy. It is the fruit of a cross.

The proverbial ripe old age applies to Colin. He was blessed beyond many of his peers. He was a blessing to many. Only a week on from Remembrance Day it is appropriate that we pause to remember what Colin yearned to forget. And he has now forgotten. The trauma of war has vanished like a mist from his mind. Colin did two tours of duty in New Guinea in the Second World War. The men who fought alongside him and under his command know of his courage and valor. The rest of us can only express humble gratitude for the freedom they helped to secure.

Colin knew that the mercy of God meant that his life in this world could be lived in service to others. A faithful husband, a loving father, a trusted friend and loyal servant of his country and servant of his church Colin sought the welfare of others. He knew that life was full of temptation and opportunity that could shipwreck his faith. His confirmation verse was, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”2 Colin was no stranger to God’s house. He was a faithful and active member of this congregation. Here he gathered with God’s people where he cherished God’s pardon, was strengthened by His promises, and refreshed by His sacred meal. And when he became too frail to attend he gladly received Christ’s body and blood and the assurance of God’s unlimited compassion in his home.

The journey of faith ends at death. Colin no longer believes. He doesn’t need to. His baptism has been fully realized. He has received His promised inheritance. “In My Father’s house are many rooms…I am going there to prepare a place for you,”3 says the Redeemer. Colin has received what has long been prepared. He is no longer in need of our prayers. He now enjoys vibrancy beyond our imagination. Colin lives because Christ lives. He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies.”4 “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.”5

Sylvia, 68 years of marriage cannot be forgotten, or lamented, or in any way reduced in importance in the days ahead. But you need not despair. The Saviour we know in faith he now knows face to face. Released from His frailty Colin now breathes easily. He waits for you to join him in the final chapter. But he is not alone. He is in the company of the triune God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and all the host of heaven. Like the pigeons he once so carefully trained Colin is safely at home and he will travel no more through this veil of tears. He has received the crown of life. Thanks be to God for His immeasurable love! Amen.

+ In nomine Jesu +

Christian Burial of Colin Kruger
18 November 2013
Reverend Darrin L. Kohrt

1 Psalm 139:9-10
2 Matthew 6:33
3 John 14:2
4 John 11:25
5 Revelation 1:17

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