The Rev. Paul J Cain
John 14: 2
My Mansion in the Sky
Saturday of Pentecost XII, 10 September 2011
Funeral Sermon for Virginia Burgess
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
Sin, sickness, disease and death were not the Lord’s original plan. They are the result of the Fall because of Adam and Eve’ sin. Because of sin we stand before the Lord without one plea, but that Jesus’ blood was shed for us and that the very Lamb of God invites us to come back to Him that we might be welcomed, pardoned, cleansed, and relieved.
We mourn the loss of Virginia Burgess. Now, she is with Christ, her Lord and ours, He who died and rose to reconcile us to the Father, a beginning of the restoration of creation to God’s original plan.
Virginia helped plan today’s service herself. She chose the opening and closing hymns, the psalm, and another song I’ll refer to in today’s sermon. Virginia minded her own business, yet spoke her mind when she did speak. We wanted to honor her requests as a final expression of her confession of faith to her family and friends of God’s Amazing Grace in Christ.
1[Jesus said:] “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.
Virginia believed in Christ as her Savior from sin, death, and the power of the devil. I got to know her about 2 ½ years ago and visited her every 4-6 weeks. She always made room for me and God’s Word and Sacrament when I brought Church to her. The family and I are also thankful for the pastoral care given by Pr. Holthus and Pr. Garwood since she moved to Casper in 2009.
Jesus said: 2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?
It would be fair to say that John 14:2 was one of her favorite Bible passages, for it was the source of one of her favorite songs, written and sung by Jimmie Davis:
My journey with Jesus will end my sorrow
Heal my affliction no more I’ll cry
I’ll be rejoicing while I’m going
To my mansion in the sky
2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4And you know the way to where I am going.” 5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
We know where Virginia is. When you first heard that she had died to this life, you may have thought, “It can’t be. I’m not ready yet. She can’t go now” Remember the blessing that she was to you in her earthly life. Thank God for many stories of the cabin, Elk, and riding horses. Thank Him for the meals you had at the Palace or the Edgeton Café. Her family told me she wanted to be a nurse. She couldn’t pursue that goal, but she poured her heart and soul and service into her seven kids, reading medical journals along the way, and wearing those trademark moccasins for shoes (and for discipline).Jesus gives us the peace that surpasses all understanding so that we can say, “I can do this now in Christ.”
8Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
We were created in Christ Jesus to do good works. Any Christian that knows their Bible also knows that works do not earn salvation. They are not a “Please” before the Lord, but a “Thank You” to Him for the gift of salvation in Christ. Earlier, you heard a reading from the book of Titus. That very reading was the Epistle on the day Virginia was baptized at Immanuel’s preaching station in Ranchester on Christmas Day 1927.
12“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
Christ ascended to the Father, preparing the way for all who die in Christ. He is the source of our confidence and trust as He was for Virginia. By all means recall her life’s passions from the garden, carnations, reading, doing puzzles, embroidering, and the fact that she never did like color TV, but remember first that through the good and the bad, the joys and the sorrows, she held on to Jesus because He held on to her.
15[Jesus said:] “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
18“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
Jesus’ words here echo those of Virginia’s Confirmation Verse, Luke 11:28. Jesus said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” She heard it from her pastors over the decades with joy. She saw to the Christian education of her children. Now she awaits the Day of Resurrection with her Lord.
Now don’t you be grieving cause I’m leaving
Don’t cry when I say goodbye
There’ll be no weeping where I’m going
To my mansion in the sky
We weep because we mourn. We mourn because we have lost those we love due to death. On the Last Day our bodies will be resurrected and will be reunited with our eternal souls. The Lord Himself will heal us of all our afflictions—polio, cerebral palsy, dementia, and all our other crosses—and wipe every tear from our eyes. Those who believe in Christ will join Him in eternal glory in the heavenly mansions.
Jesus says, In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also [, My Mansion in the Sky]. Amen.
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.