Because He Lives

Today marks the anniversary of Nana’s death.

Nana was a really special lady, and I still miss her, I still get a catch in my throat whenever I sing ‘In Christ Alone’ or when singing the third verse of ‘Because he Lives’ (we happened to sing that several weeks in a row at church whilst Nana was ill in hospital). But whilst I still get choked up because I miss her, I’m not scared for her, I’m not even worried I won’t see her again – in fact I’m certain I will!

I take great comfort in knowing that Nana knew Jesus – she belongs to him, and there was never any chance of him letting her go! Jesus was Nana’s hope and certainty, he was the reason she lived the life she did, and served the way she did! It was him who brought her joy and put that twinkle in her eye! (you can watch Nana give her testimony here).

I know that one day I will see her again! And what will make that day all the more special, is that our focus won’t even be on each other, but on Jesus! I’m looking forward to that day when I can once again stand next to Nana, hold her hand, and join her in singing praises to Jesus!

We buried Nana. We planted her as a seed – a testimony that although death has come, it has not won! Nana is not done with her body yet! Jesus is going to ‘undo’ death! He is going to raise her, and make her body new!

Paul the apostle in his letter to the Corinthians says of burying a Christian:

‘So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.’  1 Corinthians 15:42-44

Our great and glorious gospel hope is that Nana’s body which we’ve sown, planted in the ground, will be raised imperishable, will be raised in power! And so it was a great privilege to get to conduct my Nana’s burial. This is what I said…

Burial for Giselle Smalley

Intro

Jesus wept beside the grave of his friend Lazarus – today we follow the pattern of our saviour as we too grieve at the death of a loved one.

May I welcome you, and thank you for coming this morning. I’m Doug Clark, one of the Pastors at Worthing Tabernacle, and one of Gisselle’s many grandchildren! After this graveside service there will be a service of remembrance and thanksgiving at York Baptist Church at 12:15 – we would love to see you all there.

We’ve come here today to give thanks for Nana’s life, to commit her to God’s care; to support one another at this time of grief; and to hear some words of comfort from the Bible.

Prayer

Let us pray:
Merciful Father, you watch over our lives and you search our hearts. Please today hear our prayers and comfort us; renew our trust in your Son whom you raised from the dead, strengthen faith where it is weak, create faith where it is absent, that all who have died in the love of Christ will share in his resurrection; Christ who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. One God, now and for ever. AMEN.

Reading

Jesus said these words to the sister of Lazarus:
“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:25-26

Thought

We can stand here today and with confidence say – Nana DID believe this! This was Nana’s eternal hope – that Jesus loved her and had saved her and will raise her!

It was this Gospel hope that brought her peace – even in her final days and hours. Even at the end as Nana faced life’s final enemy it was evident to all who saw her that there was no fear, no uncertainty for Nana – just confidence in the sufficiency of Christ, and his saving work at the cross!

And so Nana could say along with Job:

For 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, – Job 19:25-26

The resurrection of the body is our Gospel hope! Yet in my flesh I shall see God! And we today find peace and assurance in the knowledge that Nana will be raised from the dead – and we will see her again!

Whilst Nana could say this at the end of her life – there was a time when she couldn’t – when she didn’t know the Lord. In fact I remember Grandad recalling how Nana would hide his bible, and change the clocks in the house to make sure he was late for church!
But when Nana did come to Faith, when she turned to Jesus, and received the life he offered, she was amazed that Jesus could love her – that he could love her so much that he would bleed and die to redeem her – to have her, and to save her.

This sentiment is expressed in the first verse of the hymn – ‘my song is love unknown’. We’re going to sing it together in just a moment.

The first verse expresses the wonder Nana had that she a sinner could be loved so dearly. The second verse speaks of the death defeating love of the cross which was Nana’s hope and foundation, and the third verse speaks of the believers hope of therefore being with the Angels in the presence of the Lord singing his praises – something which Nana looked forward to and spoke of often – and is now doing!

We’re going to sing together – my song is love Unknown – you should have copies of the words in front of you:

First verse

My song is love unknown, the saviours love to me,

Love to the loveless shown that they might lovely be.

For who am I, that in my place,

My Lord should take frail flesh and die.

Second Verse

My song is love unbound, for love has conquered death,

And love the victory won in this His parting breath.

For with the cry, that all is done,

Vain darkness fell before the son.

Third Verse

My song is love enthroned where angel voices raise,

To magnify the Son and sing the Father’s praise.

So shall I stand, in glorious throng,

And add my praises to that song.

Message

We know that Jesus prayed for Nana. In John’s Gospel ch 17 we hear the prayer of Jesus before he went to the cross – he is praying for his disciples – and in v20 he prays: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word’ Jesus here is praying for all who would ever believe on him – including Nana.

What was it then that Jesus prayed for Nana – he continues in v24: ‘Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory .’ And he adds in v26 ‘that the love with which you have loved me may be in them.’ Jesus’s ultimate prayer for Nana is that she would be with him! And see his Glory – because he loves her!

God the father has answered Jesus’ prayer for Nana. He answered it 60 years ago, when God opened the eyes of Nana’s heart to see Jesus for who he really is. And God answered it even more fully 12 days ago, when Jesus called Nana to himself in Glory – that she may be with him – where he is!
The Apostle Paul wrote [2Cor 5:8]’to be away from the body, is to be at home with the Lord.’ – and to be with Christ is far better! [Phil1:23] For the past 60 years nana has seen Jesus but in a mirror dimly – but now she sees him face to face! This is the climax of Jesus prayer for Nana! That she would be with him! That’s why Jesus went to the cross – to bring us to himself! God wants to spend eternity with us! And so Jesus prays that those that are his would be with him – he prayed this for Nana – and the Father has answered Jesus’ prayer.

Today Nana is away from her body – but she is with the Lord! As we gather now – she is face to face with Jesus! As she awaits the resurrection of the body!

Praise Jesus!


Committal


It is safe in the knowledge of these truths that we bury our dear Nana today – I’m going to ask if Joe, Sam, Malc and Ben would come forward.


Words of Scripture


The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, – Psalm 103:13-17

For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. – Romans 14:9
[Coffin lowered into Grave]


Prayer of committal 

So having entrusted Nana to the mercy of God:

Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust in SURE AND CERTAIN HOPE of the resurrection to eternal life for all who trust in our Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our bodies that they may be conformed to His glorious body, who died, was buried and rose again for us.

To Him be glory for ever and ever AMEN.

Let’s now close in prayer

Prayer

God of all consolation – your son Jesus Christ was moved to tears at the grave of Lazarus his friend. We grieve – as you do – at the intrusion of sin and death into your creation. As we bury the body of our sister in Christ – Giselle – our wife, mum, Nana, baby Nana, and friend – we thank you for her life – we thank you for the many happy memories – but most of all we thank you for her love of Jesus. We thank you for her continued witness to your glory.We thank you for Jesus and the hope of resurrection – we thank you that we do not grieve as those who have no hope. Lord and Heavenly Father look with compassion on your children in their loss; give to troubled hearts the light of hope, and strengthen in us the gift of faith, in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

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