+ In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti + Amen.
Text: John 11:25
Theme: Life After Death
Dear family, friends, and loved ones of Phyllis, and especially you, Leone, her daughter,
God receives back His own. He takes them home. Perhaps it’s never perfect timing for us. We’d like just one more day or one more opportunity to spend time or say goodbye. God doesn’t ask for our permission. His simply asks that we trust that He knows best. Not that we should lightly pass over the significance of that request. Death is an ominous and confronting reality. It’s more than we can manage with just our intellect or emotions. It requires the Holy Spirit. God has received Phyllis Klose to Himself. Specifically, that means her soul is in the presence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, saints and angels. Thanks be to God for the compassionate embrace of His love!
Like all believers, God has been preparing Phyllis for her reception into heaven for some time. Phyliss’s confirmation text was from Second Corinthians, “Now 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. Meanwhile, we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling…so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”1
How absolutely marvelous is that! Mortality will be swallowed up by life! Mortality is characterized by limitations. It is marked by decay, by injury, and finally, complete incapacitation. To be mortal is to be subject to obsolescence. Our bodies and minds have an end point at which they are no long able to function. Mortality implies eventual death. As Christians, we understand that sin is the cause of mortality. Adam and Eve were created to live forever. Disobedience brought spiritual, then physical death. It’s a curse we have all inherited. That’s why every contemplation of the meaning of death is also a call to repentance.
But Christ has intervened in this inexorable march towards the final demise. This vortex of darkness that draws all frail beings clinging to life into its abyss has met a superior power. Jesus said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son also to have life in Himself.2 He says, “In My Father’s house are many rooms…I am going there to prepare a place for you…I will come back and take you to be with Me.3 Again, He says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though He dies.”4 Christ died and rose again for Phyllis. He died and rose again for you. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”5
Phyllis lived a long and full life. She persevered through the challenges of running the Malpas store, Post Office, and telephone exchange during both droughts and successful years of farming in the Mallee. She excelled at these vocations while being a faithful wife and devoted mother of three. She witnessed the death of two of her children, something that particularly taxes the heart and soul. Yet her trust did not waver. God’s will was best and through His grace she came to terms with it. Phyllis also witnessed many changes during her lifetime. Horses gave way to tractors. Party-line telephones gave way to mobiles. Daily cooking went from the fire to the microwave. Expectations and roles within society changed too. She lived through the Great Depression and the Second World War. Through it all Phyliss clung to the unchanging nature of God’s love in Christ. She worshipped regularly in His house. She received the blessing of holy communion. She supported the work of His kingdom.
In the era in which she was born Phyliss could be considered to be a miracle baby. The most important recognition of her fragility was the prompt manner in which she was baptized. This precious gift from God would not be taken for granted. Aurthur and Anna believed she belonged to Him. And indeed, she does! She’s only been on loan. The Holy Spirit made a covenant with Phyllis in her baptism and He has now made good on that promise. Baptism entails not only the forgiveness of sins at the time it is administered, but also the security of an eternal inheritance. In baptism, we are adopted into the family of Christ and benefit from all the heavenly treasures He possesses.
The experience of being without sin, of being freed from the consequences of mortality is so hard to describe the Bible typically explains it by mentioning those things that will not exist. For instance, recall those words we heard earlier, “He[God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”6 There will be nothing in heaven to detract from our continual enjoyment of God’s presence. We will suffer from no illness or anxiety. We won’t ever get bored. No one will do harm to another.
But there’s no use us speculating on the specific experience of heaven. We are wise simply to employ the biblical language. God promises that those who die in faith are at rest. He promises they receive the crown of eternal life. Phyllis now knows what that means. Leone, find comfort in these promises of God, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”7 And, “He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart.”8 Phyllis has been gathered into the fold. She is safely in His eternal refuge awaiting the great and glorious day of the resurrection of all flesh. Amen.
+ In nomine Jesu +
Christian Burial of Phyllis Marie Klose
14 March 2017
Reverend Darrin L. Kohrt
1 2 Corinthians 5:1-2, 4
2 John 5:26
3 John 14:2-3
4 John 11:25
5 John 3:16
6 Revelation 21:4