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By Tom Miller

The following sermon is thanks to Tom Miller and Lection List for encouraging the exchange of funeral sermon ideas during the week of August 17-23 1997. Tom is pastor of St. Mark's Lutheran, (ELCA), Bloomfield NE and can be contacted at

Date sent:        Mon, 18 Aug 1997 16:20:54 -0600
To:               Lection-List@BIBLE.ACU.EDU
From:    (Tom Miller Family)
Send reply to:    Lection-List@BIBLE.ACU.EDU
Subject:          Funeral sermon for a "fixer"

Psalm 121
Eccleastices 3:1-11
Romans 8:36-39
Luke 11:11-17

Friends and family of Phil Hawley:

I didn't know Phil.  But when I have heard his name mentioned it has
usually ben in the connection of his skills in the mechanical arena.  "He
was a good mechanic."  "He could fix it."  "His tools were magic in his

The right tools in the right hands are able to work magic.  With knowledge
and proper application the right tools in skilled hands do work magic.

However, for you and I and our walk on this earth, there are some things
that we don't have the tools to change.  Some things that our human will
cannot bring into being no matter how much we wish, or try or say.

Conquering death is one of those things.  Certainly you, Peggy, and each of
your children did the right things in caring for Philip.  You went beyond
the call of duty making him comfortable, responding to his wishes,
providing the kind of environment where he could be comfortable at home.
With few tools, you worked magic to give meaning to Phil's life-three times
as long as medical people believed possible.

In the end, all the tools available to us, were not enough to keep Phil
from the clutches of death.  In the end, no amount of willing, or praying,
or technology could keep him in this life for another week, or month, or
year.  When Thursday came, there weren't any magic tools that could thwart

Only God has the tools to conquer death.  Only God has the tools to work
magic on death's power.  The tool that God has is His eternal almighty
power.  The tool that God has is the resurrection of His Son Jesus, who
endured death, even as we must, but by the power of God was resurrected
from the dead, having conquered deaths final power. In the resurrection, we
believe God has made death into a gateway to eternity.  In the
Resurrection, God said that death is not the final word on life, but that
death is the gateway to the next life.

Death always comes as a shock.  It doesn't matter how long it has been
expected, or how well you've prepared for it, or how many times you've
rehearsed in your mind what that moment might be like, or how much you've
stayed yourself for its coming, it always comes too soon.  It always comes
at the wrong time.

But death is a fact.  It draws us up short. It causes pain, and grief and
separation.  It causes us to feel emptiness and heartache.  There is an
empty spot, a break in the family circle.  And we grieve, we recall
experiences, we feel the pain that death brings.

So what tools do we need in these days to deal with our grief.  What tools
do we turn to that will ease our pain and move us into the days ahead?  God
has given us some direction in His word:  The book of Eccleastices notes
that there is a season for everything under heaven:  a time to remember, a
time to weep, a time to heal.

One tool is our memory.  In these days it is helpful to recall all the fond
memories of life on this earth with Phil.  It is to open the memory bank of
the mind and share those common experiences which were meaningful in
shaping life, and in which life was found to be meaningful.  The treasure
chest of memory is one of God's precious tools to help us grieve.

Certainly this is a time to weep.  God has given the gift of tears, I
believe, to help us cleanse our spirits.  Our Bishop, Bishop Chilstrom
remarked upon reflecting upon the death of his son, said, "Tears flowing
freely from the deep well of the soul, ring cleansing, and lead to the
fresh waters of life."  Tears come from deep within us to cleanse, and
purge, and open the way for the fresh waters of life--living waters of
And faith is the tool that brings healing.  God has promised to be with us.
In fact, God has come to be near us in His Son Jesus.  It is faith in
Jesus, his life saving death and resurrection, that gives us hope.  We are
told that God loved us enough to give his son for us that in believing we
might have life, life in his name.  So this is a time to look to faith, to
find renewal in our commitments and in our believing so that we might grow
in claiming the promises of God for all those who believe in his Son.

And the last tool we have is God's promise that nothing will separate us
from His love.  Not death, not separation, not one thing.  NO matter what
God promises to be with us.  And in death to hold his own in his loving
arms.  We know, and believe, that there is no better place to be than in
the arms of Jesus, safe in his loving arms, where he holds us in love.

the millers

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