Warren Drinkgern Funeral (Rom 8, 28–39; Jn 10, 27–30)

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᛭ INI ᛭

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

(5. Oops!: Things don’t always go the way we think or hope they will.)

Things in this life don’t always go the way we think they will. They don’t always go the way we hope they will. That’s today. We had hope that Warren would’ve overcome the cancer. We didn’t think, didn’t hope that it would end like this.

But if it wasn’t cancer, it would’ve been something else. We all hope to get more years. Maybe it is 76, like Warren, or maybe more like 101 like Warren’s mom. Or more than 51 years of marriage. (Each year, month, and day is a gift from our heavenly Father.) We all hope that death is always far into the future. Truth is we think, and we live like, we’re never going to die.

(4. Ugh!: Things are sometimes longer, harder than we anticipate.)

Okay, maybe we all realize that someday we will die, but maybe we have hope that it won’t be difficult or hard or a long process. But sometimes, sometimes, things are longer and harder than we anticipate. It’s been a long haul. Glimmers of hope along the way maybe, but slowly, little bit by little bit, it faded.

What are we supposed to do when that happens? (It can happen to any of us.) How are we supposed to meet that challenge? Do all the good times balance it out? How do we answer when things are harder and last longer than we anticipate? Who has the strength for such a task? It’s a burden—unknowns, worries, doubts.

It’s really unbearable, and we get locked in on it. Imprisoned maybe. It’s no cake walk. What do we do in the long haul of cancer? Or the hard times of “tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword.” Or the dark day of “death.”

What Paul lays out in Romans 8 is certainly a tough list. What Job went through in his life was, too. But what are we to do when things like “tribulation” or “danger” or “things present or things to come” or “height or depth” or “life or death” come after us? What are we to do when, as Paul quotes, “we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered”? When the “wolf comes for us” as Jesus puts it earlier in John 10?

What are we supposed to do? What are we supposed to think? What are we supposed to feel? Where are we going to find some support? Some hope? Somewhere to put our trust? What sort of confidence can we have in the face of cancer or death or a casket or a grave? Not just today, but when your day and my day comes…

(3. Aha!: THERE’S NOTHING AT ALL—EVER!—THAT WILL SEPARATE YOU AND JESUS.)

Well, Paul gives you an answer today in Romans 8. He actually gives the same answer that Jesus does in John 10. In fact, Jesus gives the answer twice. Paul also gives the answer twice. So, what does Jesus say? What does Paul, inspired faithful preacher of Jesus, say?

THERE’S NOTHING AT ALL—EVER!—THAT WILL SEPARATE YOU AND JESUS.

Since they said it twice, I’ll say it again:

THERE’S NOTHING AT ALL—EVER!—THAT WILL SEPARATE YOU AND JESUS.

That’s what Jesus means when He says today: “No one will snatch them out of my hand…No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” That’s what Paul means when he asks his rhetorical question, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” He answers his own question for you with: nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

How can Jesus and Paul make this promise? Well, it all has to do with what Paul says in verse 34: “Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” Jesus also said, earlier in John 10, “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. I lay down My life that I may take it up again.”

The promise that nothing will separate you from Jesus is founded on the bedrock of Calvary and Jesus’ empty tomb. Christ died. Really died. Then He wasn’t dead any more. True story. As Paul confesses in 1 Corinthians 15: “Christ died for our sins [according to] the [Old Testament], he was buried, he was raised on the third day [according to] the [Old Testament], and he appeared to [Peter], then to the Twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have [died]. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” Pretty good evidence.

Jesus rescues us from our sins by His death. “The wages of sin is death.” He also rescued us from that by His coming back to life again. He makes His Calvary and His resurrection ours in Holy Baptism. (That’s what Romans 6 says and why we said it at the beginning of the service.) That’s why Jesus promises what He promises, and why Paul preaches that exact same promise. Not only Jesus’ cross and empty tomb but also Holy Baptism are why nothing separates you and Jesus.

(2. Whee!: This means we can now meet all the highs and lows, twists and turns with confidence.)

Now, what does this all mean? It means that we can be confident no matter what comes our way. This isn’t some self-confidence, some inner strength that’s in you, or me. It’s not in any of us! Paul puts it this way in 2 Corinthians 3 “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.” But why is this so? It’s because

THERE’S NOTHING AT ALL—EVER!—THAT WILL SEPARATE YOU AND JESUS.

So you can rejoice in all the highs, all the good times. They are good gifts from above, coming down from the living God, your heavenly Father. Warren’s obituary is full of those blessings he was permitted to give and to receive, but when Jesus has died and risen for you, when you’re baptized into Christ, like Warren is, well, they’re the icing on the cake, the cherry on top of the sundae.

This is especially important for times like today, or like the struggle leading up to today. You don’t just have confidence during the highs, but during the lows, during the twists and the turns. “Tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword.” Sounds like a long road. Like the road of cancer and infusions and transfusions. Like the road here today.

“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Or as Jesus says, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

(1. Yeah!: This means we actually know how things will turn out for each of us.)

And this means that we actually know how things will turn out for each of us. How Jesus wants them to turn out for you. How He has turned them out for Warren. Turned them out for eternal good!

Jesus’ promise is ““I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” Nothing high, nothing low, nothing big, nothing long, nothing hard, not cancer, not death, not even this coffin or that grave!—not your coffin or grave! Jesus is died and risen, and when you’re baptized into that, it means it will turn out for you like it turned out for Jesus. You’ll be raised! Jesus will bring you back to life on the Last Day. The promise of Job 19 will be yours. You will see Him and live forever with Him.

In the mean time, nothing can snatch you from Jesus’ nailed-scarred hands. Nothing can snatch you from “God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth,” “who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all.” Nothing can undo Jesus’ Holy Baptism that gives you His cross and grave, that credits His blood and life to your account.

Like a burr on some overalls, that’s you on Jesus because of Jesus’ cross, empty tomb, and Baptism, and so, whether it’s Good Friday, Easter Sunday, the day of your Baptism, the day of diagnosis, the day of death, or even today—it’s true forever!

THERE’S NOTHING AT ALL—EVER!—THAT WILL SEPARATE YOU AND JESUS.

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

᛭ INI ᛭

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