Monday, December 10, 2012

Graveside Committal Sermon for Harold "Toby" Thobaben, 26 October 2012

The Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.
2 Corinthians 4:1-6:1
Reconciliation and Light
Friday of Pentecost XXI, 26 October 2012, 10:30 am
Graveside Committal Sermon for Harold “Toby” Thobaben, + 21 October 2012
Mount Hope Cemetery, Big Horn, Wyoming
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming

"I am the resurrection and the life," says the Lord.  "He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die." John 11:25-26

We gather today to lay to rest the earthly remains of Harold “Toby” Thobaben. His sixty-eight years (8/14/1944) on this earth were filled with service to his family and his community according to his vocations in law enforcement and as husband, father, and friend. Toby was rough around the edges. We mourn now because we love Toby. We loved him, will still love him, and we will miss his company and sense of humor.
It is an honor to serve you on this day when we pay our last respects. It was an honor to serve Toby in his earthly life. When Clint called, I shared my condolences with him at his loss—our loss. And I rejoiced in the good news that he had to share about Toby’s last days. I am told that Toby reconciled with those around him, family and friends. His identity in Christ as a baptized, Lutheran Christian was important to him. To be salt and light and reconcile with one another is part of our baptismal grace. Therefore, my brief sermon at Toby’s graveside is a reading of 2 Corinthians 4-6 with the twin theme of Reconciliation and Light.

By the Holy Spirit, St. Paul writes: 4 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.
13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
In Resurrection hope, God bless our memories of Toby as we remember the light of Christ reflected in Him and reconcile with and forgive one another as we been reconciled to God in Christ and are forgiven by the Lord in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
"I am the resurrection and the life," says the Lord.  "He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die." (John 11:25-26). Amen.