In Memoriam +Zachary A. Moushegian+
Wayland Union High School Fine Arts Center
April 21, 2012
Text: Psalm 27
Beloved in the Lord, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1; KJV). The opening verse of Zack’s favorite Psalm in his beloved King James Version, a theme verse for a man who knew great God-given joy in this earthly life, and was himself a God-given joy to many as we see here today, but who also faced great adversity, not the least of which being the death of his dear wife Judy a little over a year and a half ago, and his significant health problems and physical challenges. He endured this adversity always with these words of faith on his lips, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” Zack knew he had a Savior he could trust, to whom he could commend every fear, every hurt, every sadness, every sin, death itself: Jesus Christ, who was crucified for the life of the world, and who has now been raised from the dead. That Lord is Zack’s light and salvation, a Light shining in the darkness of sin and death in this world, a Light of which the Apostle, St. John, writes that the darkness could not overcome it (John 1:5).
That Light, Jesus Christ, whom Zack once knew and confessed by faith, he now knows and adores by sight. The Psalm goes on to say, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple” (Ps. 27:4). The verse is first of all a prayer to remain, by God’s grace, in the holy Church all the days of this earthly life, but it is also a prayer to spend eternity in the heavenly house of the Lord, beholding Him as He sits on His glorious throne. Zack prayed these words in his earthly life knowing that he was baptized into Christ and thus a member of His Body, the Church. Zack prayed these words in his earthly life knowing that by virtue of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for him, and by virtue of his Baptism into that death and resurrection, he already possessed eternal life. Zack prayed these words knowing that the moment he closed his eyes in death, he would open them to see this Light, this Salvation, this Savior face to face. And that’s not all. Zack prayed these words knowing that even as his soul would be in heaven with Jesus when he died, so also that same Lord Jesus would call Zack and all believers out of the grave on the Last Day, in their bodies, made perfect like Jesus’ resurrection body, to live forever with God in a new heaven and a new earth. Because Jesus says so. He promises it. “I am the resurrection, and the life,” says Jesus. “(H)e that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26).
That’s an amazing promise for us who have come to mourn the death of our dear brother. “Though dead, not dead,” says Jesus. “Alive in Me. And this body will rise from the dead.” Now, some of you I know, most of you I don’t know. And I don’t know, you may believe this, you may not believe this. But you should know that Zack believed it, and now he knows it without a shadow of a doubt, that on the Last Day the risen Lord Jesus will raise his own body from the dead. It was just this past Easter Sunday that Zack confessed it with his own lips: “He is risen!” Zack said. “He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!” “I look for the resurrection of the dead,” he confessed in the Creed, “and the life + of the world to come.” And then with those same lips he received the body and blood of the risen Christ in the Supper. Now he joins us with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven from the other side of the altar. Though he’s dead, he lives, you see. Because of Jesus, his Light and salvation, the resurrection and the life. It says it right there in the Psalm, by the way, verse 13: “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” That’s a confession of heaven and the resurrection. Zack sees the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. He lives. He is not dead. And his body, too, will live once again on the Last Day.
So, now we know Zack is taken care of. His pain and tears are at an end. He rests and rejoices in the presence and light of Jesus. But what about us, who shed our tears now and grieve our dear brother in Christ, your father, your teacher, our friend? Zack’s favorite Psalm has something to say about that, too. It is the last verse of the Psalm: “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD” (v. 14). It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to grieve. Death is not how it was supposed to be. We were supposed to live forever with God. Sin brought death into the world. It’s a great evil. We should cry. But even as you cry, be of good courage. The Lord has done something about sin. The Lord has done something about death. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became flesh, born of the Virgin Mary, to die your death for your sin and to be raised so that you can have eternal life. He walked through the valley of the shadow of death and came out the other side alive. And He will do the same for you, and for Zack, and for all believers in Christ. So wait on the Lord. You can wait with patience and good courage for the Lord Jesus Himself to dry your tears. He has already done so for Zack. He will do it for you. He is your light and salvation. This can be your theme verse, too. You need never fear again. For Christ is risen, and death has been swallowed up by death. It’s sting is lost forever. Alleluia. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.