Ardis Haugen Funeral (2 Corinthians 4)

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Service Notes

  • Liturgical Date: Funeral Sermon for Ardis Haugen - July 9, 2013
  • Order of Service: Funeral Service
  • Hymns: LSB #575, 783, 725, 727 (solo)

Theme Verse

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; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 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. So death is at work in us, but life in you. 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, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 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. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 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. (2 Corinthians 4:7-18)

Sermon Text

Barbara, Steven, Jeanne, Christine, Elizabeth, and all of Ardis' family and friends, grace, mercy and peace be yours from God our Father through His risen Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

Ardis personified what it means to be a jar of clay. In her final months, that seemed to be all her body was useful for. A jar of clay to simply hold her captive. But that is not what God intended for her or for you. Our bodies are not prisons for our souls. Our bodies are wonderful creations of God that are plagued by sin. God gave each of us our bodies so that we might serve Him through them.

Just as God got down into the dirt to create Adam on the sixth day of creation, God formed Ardis in her mother's womb. Formed her to live in communion with Him. Therefore He sent her parents to bring her to be baptized and confirmed in the Christian faith. Her husband George with whom she raised five children. Numerous pastors who have ministered to her throughout her eighty-four years of earthly life. All of these people leading her to be in communion with her heavenly Father. Helping her to lead others into a closer communion with Him as a Sunday School teacher.

Because of sin these jars of clay crumble and return to the dust from which it was first formed. Both sins we commit and the sin we have inherited from Adam and Eve. Since Adam and Eve's fall into sin, everyone is conceived and born in sin (Psalm 51:5). Believing this, each of us comes before God, begging Him, "Enter not into judgment with Your servant, for no one living is righteous before You" (v2). No one can stand before God, saying, "Look at what a wonderful person I am!" Certainly not Ardis, who would cry out with David, "I stretch out my hands to You; my soul thirsts for You like a parched land" (v6).

Our jar of clay thirsts for God because sin seeks to evaporate the living waters of Baptism in it. "Death is at work in us" (v12). Because "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). Since our jars of clay are cracked by sin, death continues to creep in through our lives. Death works in us from the day of our conception until the day it overcomes us. And we struggle against it our entire lives.

But for the Christian, it is not only our death that we carry within us. In our Baptism, we are "always carrying in the body the death of Jesus" (v10). We carry our own death of sin, but we carry the death of Jesus Christ. The death that has destroyed our death. That forgives every sin. "According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope" (1 Peter 1:3). Being born again, by the water and the Spirit (John 3:5), we hope for Christ's return and our own resurrection. Not a wishful or wistful hope. A living hope and takes hold of the promise and clings to it no matter how badly sin and death crack and break our jars of clay.

Being born again, Ardis had the treasure of faith. "The surpassing power [that] belongs to God and not to us" (v7). And this treasure is not an abstract idea. It isn't just book knowledge. Her way of life. Her way of suffering. For most of the last year, Ardis felt sin and death's wrath in her body. But it took a long time before it finally overcame the weak flesh. She was "afflicted ... but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed" (vv8-9). Throughout the struggles of her bodily afflictions, she remained calm. She knew that she was "carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus" would also be manifested in her body (v10).

She did not lose heart in the midst of her affliction (v16). Her body was afflicted as it was continually attacked. But her spirit remained steadfast. Her faith could not be crushed simply because her body was failing her. Her faith remained strong throughout. She was perplexed by her condition. But she had the confidence that her Lord would hear her prayer and answer her in His faithfulness (Psalm 143:1). She remained confident because her Lord had told her, "Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me ... For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).

Taking her Savior's yoke, her inner being was being renewed even though her outer body was wasting away (v16). Her outer body was giving way to disease and sin and death. Her soul was still being fed with God's Word and Sacraments. God continued to preserve her life even though she suffered under the easy yoke. But her Savior had suffered much more and much worse than she. He answered her prayer in the psalm, "For Your name's sake, O LORD, preserve my life! In Your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble" (143:11). And God, in His righteousness, for His name's sake, brought her soul out of trouble by taking her through the valley of death. Into the grave. And now she stands before Him. Praising Him that He has shown her such mercy.

Her praise in Heaven gives us cause for celebration and praise here on earth. St. Paul encourages the Thessalonians, do "not grieve like those who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep" (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14). We grieve Ardis' passing, but we grieve with hope. "I believed, and so I spoke" (v13). We believe that Jesus rose as the firstborn from the dead (Colossians 1:18). Since He rose, many more will rise in Him (Romans 8:29).

In comparison to the greatness of eternity in Heaven, all the afflictions of this world are light and transient. St. Paul says, "The things that are seen are transient" (v18). Even the things that are only visible on medical scans. All these things are transient. They have an end. "This light momentary affliction is preparing us" in this fallen world "for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparision" (v17). St. Peter picks up on this theme, as he encourages Christians around the world, "In this you rejoice, though now for a little while ... you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith ... may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:6-7).

When Christ comes back, Ardis will be coming back with Him. Ready to tell us all about the greatest, most beautiful, most wonderful place she has ever visited. And that visit will never end. There will be no return trip to catch. There will be no leaving this Paradise. When Christ comes back, everyone gets their eternal reward. By faith in the risen Jesus, Ardis has her "eternal weight of glory" that cannot be seen. "But the things that are unseen are eternal" (v18).

Ardis and all the saints who have gone before us into Heaven are waiting for you. Waiting for you to claim your "inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in Heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Peter 1:4-5).

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay," St. Paul says (v7). Fragile though they are. Weakened by sin and death within us. They contain the greatest treasure in all the world. They are the place where our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ wishes to dwell with us and within us. He became man and walked in our shoes. He took our burden of sin to the cross and crucified it. Destroying death. Leaving us so that we can boldly say with St. Paul, "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies" (vv8-10). Amen.