Sermon from Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Rocklin, California.
Funeral Sermon for Samuel E. Hull
Saturday of Easter 4c (April 23, 2016)
John 10:11-16, 27-30
TITLE: “Shepherded Home”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for today is the Gospel just read from St. John chapter ten.
Samuel Eugene Hull was born on May 30, 1943 in Mineral Springs, Pennsylvania, and was baptized shortly thereafter. He was confirmed in the Lutheran faith in 1962 . On November 28, 1963, Samuel married Barbara nee Fintel. They were married for fifty-three years. They have three children, David, Daniel, and Teresa, 8 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren. Samuel died in Christ on April 13, in the year of our Lord two thousand and sixteen, at the age of seventy-two years old. “And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”” (Rev. 14:13 ESV)
The fact that we have so many, and such a wide variety of people here today is a testament to how many lives Sam has affected over the years. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about forty years of working for the state, being involved in many activities and worship here at church receiving God’s gifts, The Del Oro High School Marching Band, or the numerous ways that he loved and cared for his family. Wherever Sam went, there seemed to be people who needed him and who in turn became a kind of extended part of the family. If you aren’t related to the Hulls, you might as well be, because they’ll probably treat you like family anyway.
The last few years, however, have not been easy. Diabetes, COPD, heart trouble, and a host of other problems big and small seemed to have afflicted him. Simple things like going to church became a lot more complicated, and a lot more time was spent on going to the doctor than on the things he loved. When he died a week and a half ago, it was a shock, but one that we all knew was coming sooner or later. But that doesn’t make it any easier.
You see, beloved, Sam, for all of his great traits, well, he was a sinner. He was broken, imperfect, and that is never more obvious than when we gather here today to mourn his passing. Sickness and death are the result of sin, and it has been so since the time of Adam and Eve.
But Sam knew and recognized something that means not even death can break him. Sam knew that of all the things he has done in his life, of all the places and people and hobbies and friends and family, that the one which mattered most is Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd. Throughout his life, Sam heard the voice of the Good Shepherd. That voice called him to faith. It is in that voice that Sam was baptized seventy-two years ago. And for decades that voice called him to the Supper of Jesus Christ, His own body and blood. The Good Shepherd is the Lamb of God, the one who took on our flesh and blood, and who died on the cross so that Sam, and you and me and all of us might live forever in Him.
And that Good Shepherd promises to do something more. Jesus Christ promises that at the last day He will call Sam again, just like He did in Holy Baptism. And Sam, even though He is dead, He will live again. With Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, with saints and apostles and sinners all, He. Will rise again from the dead. Here again the words of Jesus Himself:
My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand (John 10:27-29).
So Sam rests with our Lord, and will rise again. And so will you and all who trust in the voice of that great, Good Shepherd. Every tear you shed today will be wiped away, and there will only be joy, the joy that comes from a new life that never ends.
Don’t be afraid of your grief and sorrow. You grieve because you love him, and you sorrow because you know that you will miss him here, sharing a joke, watching a game, sitting in his pew, whatever the memory is that clings to you most. But your grief will come to an end, because Christ will return, and all your sorrows will fade away with the morning sun.
But until that day, rest well, Sam. Rest well in the arms of your Good Shepherd, Jesus. For we will meet again, soon.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn