Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Sunday, November 10, 2013

In Memoriam +Peter Haverfield Mogg+


In Memoriam +Peter Haverfield Mogg+
November 10, 2013
Text: John 14:1-7
            Beloved in the Lord, Jesus says to us this afternoon, “Let not your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1; ESV).  Really?  And how can we do that?  This is, after all, a very troubling situation.  We knew it was coming.  But that doesn’t really make it any better.  A dear husband, a dear father, a dear brother in Christ has been snatched away from us.  We’re hurting here. 
            First of all, understand that it’s okay to hurt.  Even as a Christian.  We grieve.  Death is not how it is supposed to be.  This is a fallen world, full of sin and heartache.  Beloved, your Lord understands your hurt.  When He says, “Let not your hearts be troubled,” He’s not saying, “Now, quit your crying… no hurting allowed.”  No, quite the contrary, your Lord Jesus knows your hurt.  He knows it very intimately.  So much so that He took it, that very hurt that you now bear in your heart and soul, He took it into Himself and bore it all the way to the cross to nail it there in His flesh.  What does the Prophet Isaiah say?  Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Is. 53:4).  That means the very pain you are now experiencing.  He has borne it.  And that is why He can say, even on such an occasion as this, “Let not your hearts be troubled.”  It is not a command, but a gracious invitation to commend your sorrows, your grief, to One who knows it already, to One who, in the end, will turn your mourning into dancing.  That’s what He says in Psalm 30:11: “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing.”  You know how He will do that?  He will do it when you see Pete Mogg again in heaven, and particularly when He makes you and Pete dance on your own two feet on the Day of Resurrection.
            Yes, beloved, this body will rise from the dead, and so will yours.  Jesus has promised.  And as He says in the Gospel lesson, just trust Him.  Believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1).  Grieve, certainly.  But as St. Paul writes, do not grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thess. 4:13).  You know your Savior, that He always makes good on His promises.  And what does He promise here?  In my Father’s house are many rooms” (John 14:2).  And “I go and prepare a place for you,” and “I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (v. 3).  This is not a promise of some temporary visitation, like a hotel stay or a stint in the heavenly guest room.  Nor, more importantly, is the fulfillment of this promise some sort of spiritual, ethereal, not-really-real state of existence as it is so often popularized in movies and on television.  Pete does not now live in your heart.  He is not looking down from some distant star you’ve picked out in the heavens.  No, he really lives!  For real.  His soul is with Jesus in heaven, in the place the Savior has prepared for him, while here his body rests.  And then it gets even more real, if we can put it that way.  Because on the Last Day, when Jesus comes again to judge the living and the dead, He will raise Pete’s body from the grave.  He’ll pull it all back together.  He’ll reunite Pete’s body and soul and breathe His Spirit into him, and Pete will live forever, risen, as Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.  You’ll see it on that Day.  Just wait.  Go ahead and grieve now, of course.  But know that on that Day Jesus will turn for you your mourning into dancing.  So, knowing the end of the story, Jesus is right on the money.  Let not your hearts be troubled.”
            How could it be?  It’s almost too good to be true.  Well, it is too good to be true if we’re counting on it all happening because Pete has deserved it, or we’ve deserved it, or we’ve done anything to bring it about.  You have to understand something about the biblical faith that Pete confessed with his own mouth every time he came to Church here and every time I visited him with the Lord’s Supper at his house or in the hospital.  All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).  That is how St. Paul puts it.  That means you and me and even Pete.  That’s why we die.  That’s why there is death in the world.  And that’s what Pete confessed.  But he also confessed (and through this service he’s confessing it to you right now) that Jesus has not left us in sin and death.  He’s done something about it.  He became a man, born of the Virgin Mary.  True God, He took on flesh.  He lived among us.  He became one with us.  He was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin.  He was perfectly obedient to the Father.  But He who knew no sin of His own became sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21), in order to put our sin and our death to death in His death on the cross.
            But He didn’t stay dead.  Christ is risen!  Alleluia!  And His resurrection means that God has accepted His sacrifice of atonement for all your sins and Pete’s sins and the sins of the whole world.  And now you have eternal life.  Our Lord’s obedience counts as your obedience.  Our Lord’s righteousness is your righteousness.  And so it is for Pete.  Pete is baptized into that reality, baptized into Christ Jesus.  That’s why we know death doesn’t have the last word here.  Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.  And He’ll raise Pete, and He’ll raise you.  Let not your hearts be troubled.”
            You should hear those words as you would hear them from your dad when something has gone terribly wrong, whether you’re a little kid who has just fallen off your bike, or a grownup who has suffered some great defeat or heartache.  Your dad takes you in his arms and he says, “It’s all gonna be okay,” and you believe him, because he’s dad.  When Jesus says, “Let not your hearts be troubled,” He’s speaking the very Words of your Father in heaven.  For in hearing Jesus, you hear the Father.  Knowing Jesus, you know the Father.  Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the revelation of the Father’s heart.  And that’s why Jesus says that you know the way to the place He has prepared.  You know the way to the Father.  You know the way to eternal life.  It’s Jesus.  It’s only Jesus.  Jesus says to you, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).  Pete knew that.  He knew it by faith.  Now he knows it by sight, for he stands before the Father’s throne with the Son and the Holy Spirit, with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven.  And by the way, that gives us a little clue about where we meet Pete even now… He’s not some distant star smiling down on us.  He’s here at the Lord’s Table, around the Body and Blood of Christ, with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven.  He communes with us here, only now he joins us from the other side of the veil.  But he lives.  And he stands before the throne of God and of the Lamb, and God our Father is even now wiping every tear from Pete’s eyes.  Beloved, He’ll dry your tears, too.  Let not your hearts be troubled.”  It’s all gonna be okay.  It will.  And it is.  Because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.  And so it will be for Pete Mogg.  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.   

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