The Funeral of Mert Frerking (Lk 2, 25–32)

Photo by Nagara Oyodo on Unsplash

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᛭ INI ᛭

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

There’s all sorts of things we look forward to. We all have hopes and dreams. In fact, this is the time of year for expectations, after all. There’s things you look forward to see. The holiday’s are meant to be, or we expect them to be, times of joyful expectation. Where hopes become reality. And then, well, we’ve wound up here today.

No one hopes for a funeral, especially for someone you love—a beloved husband or father, grandfather, great grandfather. But God gifted Mert with 84 years of blessings. There were blessings and gifts that Mert gave to you, and there were blessings and gifts that you gave to him. Not just things given, but times and memories shared.

Now, at 84 years of gifts, this day is more and more likely to be sooner rather than later. But even though that’s the case, we still don’t really want to think about it. Especially halfway between Thanksgiving and Christmas. But our reading from Luke 2 offers us some comfort as we hear up to think about and celebrate not our expectations but rather our Lord’s promises.

Simeon was a godly man. He was a priest. He was a man who was waiting for, hoping for, expecting the Lord to keep His Promise. “He’d been instructed by the Spirit that he would not see death until he’d seen the Lord’s Christ.” Then He came into the temple, saw the Christ with his own two eyes, held the baby Jesus, the Creator and Savior of the whole world, in his own arms. Then he sang, “Lord, now, You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your Word.”

Simeon needed that promise. He needed Christ to come. He needed to be saved from his sin, his death, his grave. He needed the peace that came from the Christ coming to be His Savior, to redeem him from his sins, to rescue him from the devil, to resurrect him from the dead. That’s exactly what Christ does and promises with His birth, His own death, and His own resurrection.

THE LORD FULFILLS HIS PROMISES TO MEET OUR NEEDS.

The very same thing that Simeon looked for and needed the Lord to do—that’s what Mert also looked for, hoped for, needed the Lord to do for him. And that’s exactly what the Lord did for Mert and for you, too. It wasn’t just what Jesus did at Christmas, Good Friday, or Easter. It’s much closer than all that. Just as intimately as the Lord was held by Simeon, so also the Lord made and delivers His promises.

The water with the Word touched Mert’s own ears and forehead on July 31, 1938. There the Triune God promised Mert that he is “an heir having the hope of eternal life,” as St. Paul says in Titus chapter 3. 84 years worth of sermons touched Mert’s ears to strengthen his baptismal faith. Mert himself ate and drank the bread and wine that Jesus’ blessed to be His body and blood for the forgiveness of all Mert’s sins. This is how intimately the Lord Jesus makes and delivers His precious promises to all of us. We receive and desire to receive the benefits of these promises, like Mert did, by faith alone.

These promises fulfill our greatest need—peace with God, victory over death and the grave, and an eternal inheritance “kept in heaven for you.” “When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

THE LORD FULFILLS HIS PROMISES TO MEET OUR NEEDS.

We know He fulfills, keeps His promises because He’s kept His promises in the past. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit as promised. He was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem as promised. He died as promised. He came back to life as Promised. Because of His manger, His cross, His empty tomb we know that the Lord is true the promises He makes and delivers in Baptism, in Sermons, and at His Supper.

Because of the promises that He makes to us we have something else to look forward to. We have something more to expect from our Lord Jesus. Simeon looked for it. Mert did, too. We look for it as well. We “look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come” as we confess in the Creed. And that’s the very thing that Job tells us about today:

I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.

Job was looking forward to the day when with his own two eyes he’d see his Redeemer. Simeon also looked for that day, too. Before that He got to see His Redeemer up close and personal—holding Him in his arms! But Simeon had the same hope, confidence, and expectation that Job did. It’s why He could sing, “Lord, You are now letting [me] depart in peace.” This is the faith and hope of all Christians, including Mert.

We can have the same hope and confidence that Jesus will do that for us. We see Him fulfill His promises at Bethlehem, at Calvary, and on that first Easter morning. But the Lord makes this promise of seeing Him face to face at first at Holy Baptism, and then He continually makes that promise at Communion. For here He says, “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life and I will resurrect Him on the Last Day.” This is why we often sing Simeon’s song after Communion, and why we look forward to Communion as the start of our heavenly reunion with “angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven,” those believers we know who’ve died and are right now in Paradise with Christ.

There’s all sorts of things we look forward to. The holiday’s are meant to be, or we expect them to be, times of joyful expectation. And they are, just not always like we think they will. Because it’s not about what we think but about what the Lord promises to us. He promises you the very same things He promised Job and Simeon and Mert. By faith we receive the benefits like them.

THE LORD FULFILLS HIS PROMISES TO MEET OUR NEEDS.

The Lord promises. The Lord keeps His promises. And we get the resolution and salvation we desperately need. Based on what He’s done and promised we now have something else to look forward to. We believe what we’ll see someday. It won’t just Mert resurrected from the dead or you and I. It will be Jesus. We will see Jesus who was born, died, came back to life, and now lives forever for us. It’ll happen. One day you’ll see.

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

᛭ INI ᛭

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