Albert Berglund Funeral (John 12)
Now among those who went up to worship at the Feast [of Passover] were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there will My servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him (John 12:20-26).
Eleanor, Carol and Charles, Lorraine and Steve, Darrell and LaVonne, Jim and Connie, Walt and Virginia, Charles and Shirley, and everyone else who mourns Albert's death, grace, mercy and peace be yours from God the Father and our resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
As we come together, as friends and family, to support one another and to remember a beloved man, we remember Albert as a farmer. Although he may have been a husband, a father, a grandfather, he was, above all, a farmer. He was born on the farm and he died on the farm. He understood Jesus' parable about the grain of wheat.
Jesus compares Himself to a grain of wheat. Planted in the ground. As He would be planted in the grave. The grain dies, but it provides explosive growth. The Son of Man died, and He also bore abundant fruit.
As a farmer, Albert knew one seed could produce much. He saw it every time he harvested what he had planted. One seed died to give life to the plant that would bear fruit. The Seed of Eve died to give life to the Church so that she would bear fruit.
Albert bore fruit as a farmer, as a husband, as a father. He bore fruit that is still with us today. Much of his fruit is evident today as the family gathers around. We gather around with tears, but we also gather around with joy. We know we will see Albert again. Faith takes hold of God's promises and awaits the glorious reunion in Heaven.
Jesus continues His message, by saying what happens to those who bear fruit. “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” Towards the end of his life, St. Paul wrote to St. Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me.”
Albert could say the same thing. While he enjoyed his life, he didn't love life in this world. God had given him great blessings. Two wives that he loved. ?? children and step-children. ?? grandchildren. Bountiful crops and dismal years. But Albert knew who gave him all these blessings. He knew that God had given him all these things. Good and bad God gave them all. And Albert accepted all these things as a gift from God, as patient Job accepted his trials.
As one of the great joys of being Albert's pastor, there was never a time I showed up at the farm where Albert was not happy to see me. He knew what Jesus said, “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there will My servant be also. Jesus promises His presence to all who take up their cross and follow Him. He graciously received me because he knew that I brought him God's Word. Jesus was present because I came with the words of salvation. And he rejoiced to be in Christ's presence, receiving His Lord's body and blood regularly. Even when he was unable to enter this house. Wherever he was, he knew that his Savior was there as well. That his Savior was holding him up before the Father.
Jesus finishes His speech, saying, “If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” God honors those who listen to His Son. One of the great ways that God honors those who follow Him is also one of the saddest. God finally honors the faithful in this life with a blessed end when He calls them home to be with Him.
It leaves us with sadness, but we also have the promise that Albert is with Christ in Paradise. Jesus has called him out of this vale of sorrows into His Father's glory. A place Jesus has prepared for him. Where Jesus is still preparing a place for you.
We have a moment's sadness as the casket stands before us with Albert's earthly body in it. We're reminded of our own mortality. But a Christian's funeral is also a reminder of God's promise of immortality. As we shall hear at the graveside, “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.”
“When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.” When Christ comes, on the Last Day, with the blast of the trumpet, All sadness will be gone. There will be only gladness. Because Jesus is coming back to take us where He has always wanted us to be. In full communion with Him in His kingdom.
We pray for this daily, as we pray the Lord's Prayer. “Thy kingdom come.” God's kingdom comes when we hear His promises and believe them. Albert heard and believed. You hear now and I pray that you believe. Believe God's promises not only to Albert but to you. They are yours in Christ. Who saved Albert. Who saved you. Who is coming back to take His children home. Amen.