Funeral Sermon Nick Paprocky
April 1, 2009 Leave a comment
Funeral Sermon for Nick Paprocky, by Pastor Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson, at Grace Lutheran Church, Medicine Hat, March 31, 2009, four o’clock. Texts: Eccles 3:1-8; Jn 11:25-26.
When I asked Leona if there was a favourite Bible passage that she would like read for Nick’s funeral, she told me Ecclesiastes chapter three. She said that it was the passage read at her and Nick’s wedding and now she wished for it to be read today. I couldn’t agree with her more, because Ecclesiastes chapter three reminds us that God has a plan for us in every stage of life, a time and a place for everything—including death. For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven—it was true for humans back in ancient times, it is true for all of us here today, it was true for Nick. For Nick there was a time to be born, a time to be a child, and a brother. Eventually, there was a time for Nick to be a husband, and a dad, and a granddad. For Nick there was a time to be young, middle-aged, and old; and there was a time to die. The time to die came for Nick last Saturday. Our time to die shall come one day too. For some of us, it will be sooner than later. Are you ready for that time of death? Are you prepared to meet your Maker? One of the reasons why we are gathered here today is to remind ourselves that one day we too shall die, and that we need to be prepared for that day. Nick would say do not put off your preparation for that day.
How do we prepare for that day? Well we need to get our relationships sorted out with each other—and that may mean you need to offer forgiveness to someone and be reconciled with them. Do your loved ones know that you love them? Tell them today, not tomorrow, because it could be too late. Most important of all, to prepare for death, we need to be in a relationship with God through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. How is your relationship with Christ? Do you believe in the words of the Gospel that were read today? Do you believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life? If you do, then you shall be prepared for death.
Yes, as the writer of Ecclesiastes tells us, there is a time to die, and there is a time to weep and mourn, a time to lose. And I would encourage you to do that here, if that seems right for you to do—since it does hurt when our loved ones die, and we shall certainly miss them, nothing is the same without them. So there is a loss for us and that loss can and often does cause us to mourn and it brings tears to our eyes.
And yet, this is also a time to heal, a time to build up, a time to gather stones together. It is a time to remember and honour Nick. Each of you has your special memories of Nick; each of you has been touched in some way by his life; each of you will remember those things and celebrate them. Nick loved the company of his small grandchildren. Nick also loved music, especially listening to opera—as well as singing, dancing the polka and fiddle music. When he was able to, he enjoyed attending church on a regular basis and ushered here at Grace together with Leona. And at Easter time, he would bake special bread, and present me with a loaf. Just as Nick gave me the gift of his special Easter bread, Jesus, on Easter gave us the greatest gift of all—the promise of eternal life because he is the resurrection and the life.
For people of faith, death is not the end of the story. Death and resurrection go together. Strangely enough, we believe that we are not here to preside over a death. Rather, as Christians we are here to celebrate resurrection. There is a time to die, yet there is a time to live, listen to these wonderful words of Jesus: “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” This is a wonderful promise to us all and to Nick, whom we commend to God’s eternal care today.
As we celebrate, and take this time to remember, to heal, to gather stones together, to build up—it is also appropriate that this time be one of giving thanks to God for Nick’s life and commending him into the LORD’s eternal care. We worship a God who has defeated the powers of death, sin, and evil—that’s what Easter is all about. Jesus loved and cared for Nick; Jesus loves and cares for each one of you so much that he is the resurrection and the life. One day we too shall share in a resurrection like his and be reunited with our loved ones, and live with them and our risen Saviour forever. That’s the wonderful Gospel Promise—do you believe it? Nick did. My hope and prayer for all of you is that you do too. Amen.