+ In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti + Amen.
Text: John 14:3
Theme: ‘A Place To Call Home’
Dear family, friends, and loved ones of Murray, Helen, Merilyn, and especially you, Phyllis,
Murray Wedding is home. It took a little patience in the end. But he is now at peace. He now enjoys the reward of faith and the crown of everlasting life. The coffin contains his earthly remains, but his soul is in the presence of Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Scripture read earlier was one of Murray’s favourites, “Do not be afraid…for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”1 Indeed, that promise has now been fulfilled.
Murray Wedding loved music. He taught himself to play the organ and was happy to play in God’s house. He also loved to sing. His love for music was deeply connected with his faith. Music expresses the deepest sentiments of the human heart and soul. Profound truths are often better expressed in music than in words. The Bible is filled with examples, and none more important than the descriptions of being in God’s presence in heaven. Imagine how great and glorious that celestial choir is! It is populated with saints and angels.
St John had a glimpse into heaven and this is how he described it, “They sang a new song, saying, "… you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth." Then I looked, and I heard around the throne… the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!"2 Such profound realities should appropriately occupy our thoughts as we reflect in Murray’s transition to eternal life.
Dear friends, the death of every believer is an important opportunity to reflect on our own brevity and frailty. What lessons about mortality do the Scriptures teach us? No one can cheat death, and no one can fool God. Yet, the selfish, sinful human heart is easily led astray. There is an insidious teaching the devil has long been inoculating the hearts and souls of modern people with. It has made great inroads into Christianity too. The falsehood is known as universalism. Put simply, it is the idea that all paths lead to the same place in the afterlife. It’s expressed in statements like “Everybody is going to a better place.” Underpinning this very alluring idea is the belief that all people are basically good, in and of themselves. Therefore, we can be confident that nearly everybody is moving on to a better life. If that were really so, would the Lord Jesus Christ have warned so clearly and constantly about the perils of hell? After all, what need is there for a Saviour if there is nothing to be saved from?
Dear friends, eternal separation from God is not an idle threat. No one plays God the fool. Heaven cannot be gained by hook or by crook. We are not judges of our own worthiness. At the threshold of mortality there are no words of defence or assertion that will suffice. Therefore, the Redeemer says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life”3 Murray was a hearer of the word. He cherished the gospel. He knew he was justified only by grace. He knew there was no way he could merit God’s unconditional love. Believers are righteous because Jesus has shed His own blood. As the Bible says, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”4 Christ died and rose again for every human being.
Murray understood the rigours of Mallee farm life. The early years didn’t afford many luxuries, and everyone was required to pull their weight. Cooperation was essential, and a real community spirit was evidenced; something that is significantly diminished in todays’ society. The challenges and rewards of farm life were often stark: Feast or famine. Murray was adaptable and was able to adjust as circumstances demanded. When he was still fit, Murray was rarely absent from the Lord’s house or the Lord’s Table. He cherished the forgiveness of sins offered in Holy Communion. He was no Sunday-only or casual Christian. His faith informed everything he did.
Murray’ earthly journey has now ended. He is home in the eternal place prepared for him. He led a full, active, and faithful life. He was a husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather. In his later years, we had a number of conversations about one of Murray’s favourite books called The Big Fisherman. It illustrated the life of Simon Peter and his transition from that of a fisherman to an apostle. Murray appreciated how it depicted Christ as the great seeker of souls. It impressed upon him that we often overestimate our own abilities in life and that it usually takes times of testing for us to recognize that God is actually in control. More than once, Murray humbly admitted to me that he thought he was handling life quite adequately on his own until some adversity reminded him to rely on God’s grace.
Dear friends, the believer need not fear death, because at death the promise of baptism is realised. The Holy Spirit says through the apostle, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”5 Murray now has newness of life beyond our comprehension. Grief is still very real. Phyllis, Helen, Merilyn, as you grieve, recognize the gift that Murray was- a gift that will never be replaced- but look forward to a reunion with such joy and vibrancy that it utterly exceeds anything we can experience in this life. In the blessed name of Jesus, Amen.
+ In nomine Jesu +
Christian Burial of Murray Desmond Wedding
18 January 2018
Reverend Darrin L. Kohrt
1 Deuteronomy 31:6 2 Revelation 5:9-13
3 John 5:24 4 Romans 3:22-24
5 Romans 6:3-4