Sermons

Harlod Linkugel Funeral (Num 6:22–27; Rom 8:31–39)

Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

INI + AMEN.

THE LORD NAMES THOSE WHO ARE HIS. This doesn’t mean that He knows His own by name. I mean, He does, but He names them, that is, He gives them a name. Not just any name. He gives His own His own name. That’s how they are His own. The Lord stakes His claim. Those who are named with His own name are no one’s but His, His alone. He’ll never let them go. He is toward them. He sees them, blesses them, saves them.

THE LORD NAMES THOSE WHO ARE HIS. He names them not just from forever, but in the here and now. They aren’t just His before time or after time, they are His in time. In time, in their time, in their life He turns His face toward them, gives them His name.

THE LORD NAMES THOSE WHO ARE HIS. At the Font, in Holy Baptism, He names them in the here and now. There the eternal name of God is given, placed upon the forehead through the water and the Word. There the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is given one time for all time and even forever and ever. And those who have the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, those baptized with Jesus’ baptism for the forgiveness of their sins, baptized into His death and resurrection—those baptized saints receive even more of the name of Him who created, redeemed, and sanctified them.

“The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon You and give you peace.” These words not just spoken over you at the end of the Divine Service, words spoken over you today—several times! Words spoken over Harold the last several times I visited him. And our Triune God gives a promise for those words: “Thus I will put My name upon the sons of Israel, and I will bless them.” THE LORD NAMES THOSE WHO ARE HIS.

We name all sorts of things. Harold did. There’s joy there! Joy in the gifts of this life. The joining of names with Eileen, names for children (David, Carolyn, Nancy); the names of grandchildren, great-grandchildren; the names of extended family and friends. We all rejoice in the names of so many things: people, places, and things. All good gifts from the Father, gifts rooted in the dead and risen, name-giving Lord Jesus. But the greatest gift and claim we have is His name. That’s because the things we name crumble and fall. The people fade, grow foggy, and can even be forgotten. And besides all that, someday, our own name will be the first few words of an obituary, our name will be engraved on a tombstone, our body dead in a casket.

So the Lord Himself is named. God Himself is born, and gets a name just like the rest of us. He is just like the rest of us—perfect, though (no sin). Well, no sin of His own. He bore the name of sinner. Your name. Your sins. Your death, too. For you He bore the charge of transgressor. Was condemned for you. His name His condemnation!—“Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Your King. Forsaken by His Father for you, dead for you.

Just like you will, even so He died. Just like you will, even so He had a grave. Just like you will, even so He was buried. And just like you will, even so He came back to life. Just like you will, even so He lives—“death no longer has dominion over Him.”

You’re in on all of that because He not only redeems, but THE LORD NAMES THOSE WHO ARE HIS. His name clings to those He names. His name doesn’t fade. He doesn’t forget His name. Doesn’t forget you. No matter what happens, no matter how your body fades, no matter how you die, His name delivered to you in Holy Baptism endures. “Neither death nor life, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation” separates you from His name, for in Holy Baptism, in the giving of His name, “God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord” is given.

The only way to not have His name after all that is to reject it, to live your life apart from Him, His name, where He delivers His name. Then you’d only have your own name, how you’ve made and kept a good name with your many accomplishments. You might even end up with a nice obituary after your name, a nice celebration of life, remembering all those things. Well, not you. You’ll be dead. Others will. Things that only last as long as your short life. Living that way you won’t have His name in the life to come. Then Lord will say, “Depart. I don’t know you.”

Yes, your name will start an obituary, your name will be engraved in stone. Obituaries are forgotten. Tombstones erode flat. But when THE LORD NAMES THOSE WHO ARE HIS, His name clings to you. He doesn’t—can’t!—forget His name—not you, either. The name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is emblazoned on your forehead. Put there with the water and Word of Holy Baptism. There you were given the Son’s death and resurrection, there the new birth of the Holy Spirit, there everlasting adoption to the Father.

God is true to His name, true to His Word and promise. Harold knows and sees that now. One day we’ll all see it together. You’ll look back to see your empty casket. You’ll be alive and with your own eyes you’ll see the shining and merciful face of your God and Savior Jesus, “who lives and reigns and with His Father and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever.”

Cling to His name, even as it clings to you. THE LORD NAMES THOSE WHO ARE HIS, after all. And so no matter what happens to you, no matter what you’ve done, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit does “bless you and keep you,” does “make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you,” does “lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.” That’s His promise in Holy Baptism. A promise fully realized when you’re standing alive again face to face with Him forever.

Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

INI + AMEN.

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