“A Christmas Carol” (John 6:51-58)

Funeral Service
Saturday, August 14, 2021

“A Christmas Carol” (John 6:51-58)

One of the first things you notice about Carol’s obituary is the date of her birth: December 25, 1940. Carol was born on Christmas Day! It was like God was sending us a nice Christmas present that we all could enjoy for the next 80+ years. She was a true “Christmas Carol,” and the music was sweet indeed!

What a gift Carol was to us! Beloved wife to Jim for over 60 years. Loving mother to all you “T” kids, her children: Tammy, Tom, Tim, Terri, Tracy, and Toni. Whew! Grandmother, great-grandmother, faithful church member, community member, friend, and neighbor–what a blessing Carol was to so many people! All that love she had to give! We will miss her, and we give thanks to God for her.

Now I’ve known other people born on Christmas Day, and it can make it difficult for them to have their own distinct birthday party–the two events kind of get blended together. But I think that’s alright, after all. For Carol’s Savior was born on Christmas Day, and Carol getting joined together to Jesus was the best thing that ever happened to her. Being joined to Jesus is the best thing that can ever happen to any of us.

For Carol, that happened when she was baptized. She was born again, born from above, born of water and the Spirit. In Holy Baptism, God put his name on her and took her as his child. Carol was joined to Jesus, united with Christ, and her eternal destiny became tied to his. The Holy Spirit would keep Carol in the true faith all the rest of her life.

Carol was born on Christmas Day, and so was her Savior. Jesus was born to save people just like Carol, people like you and me. This is why God’s Son came in the flesh, to live and die and rise again for our eternal salvation.

Without Christ, we would be lost. We would have no hope. Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” Apart from Christ, there is no hope, no life beyond the grave, that we can look forward to. Our sins would condemn us, for every one of us–yes, including Carol–every one of us has broken God’s commandments. And the judgment for that is death and hell.

But Christ was born to rescue us from all that. He himself says so: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.” Christ, the eternal Son of God, came down from heaven to give life to us dead sinners. He came in the flesh to give his life for us. “The bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” Jesus gave his body into death on the cross as our substitute. He took the death that we deserve. He gave his life as the perfect sacrifice for our sins, your sins and mine and Carol’s, too. Now we are forgiven. Christ’s blood cleanses us from all our trespasses.

Having made atonement for our sins, Jesus then rose from the dead. Death could not hold him. He won the victory over death and the grave and hell. Now living and risen from the dead, our Lord Jesus shares his life with us.

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.” To eat of this bread is to partake of Christ, the bread of life, by faith. Christ is the bread that Carol fed on. I was privileged to be her pastor for these last many years. And I can tell you, she loved to be fed by Christ. When she was still able, she would come to St. Matthew’s for Word and Sacrament on Sunday mornings. Later, when Jim’s health declined, and Carol wasn’t able to leave him there at home, I would go the Toenjes home and bring Carol the gospel gifts there. Jim would often sit in and listen in, by the way. Then, after Jim passed away, and Carol’s own health started to decline, I continued to visit her at home and bring Jesus and his gifts to her. Finally, the last time was just a few days before she died. She was lying there at home in her hospice bed, with her daughters all around her. Carol was with it. She was awake and alert. I read to her the two psalms that we heard today, Psalm 121 and Psalm 23, and I shared the comfort we get from these words of promise from God. And then I gave her the Lord’s Supper for the last time, Christ’s very body and blood for her forgiveness, life, and salvation–a foretaste of the heavenly feast that Carol will enjoy forever.

Dear friends, Jesus is saying to all of us today: “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” And again: “Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” What a wonderful promise this is! To have eternal life, even now. And then the sure hope that when our Savior comes again on the last day, he will raise up our lifeless bodies and restore them whole and new, better than ever, with no more sickness or defect. No more sorrow! No more mourning! No more tears! Only joy and life and perfect fellowship with Christ and all his people for all eternity!

What a hope we have to hold on to! This hope will give us strength in our time of loss. This is the great hope that carries us through all our times of grief and pain and sadness. It is the knowledge that Jesus is our Savior. You and I know that our Redeemer lives, and we will live with him. He will lead us through the valley of the shadow of death, and nothing can separate us from him. This was the faith that gave Carol hope. It is the faith that sustained her through her life and even through that last dark valley. Now Carol is with her Lord in paradise, and she will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Today we’ve heard a beautiful “Christmas Carol.” Our Carol was born on Christmas Day, and she was a beautiful gift to all of us. But more importantly, Jesus Christ, Carol’s Savior, was born on Christmas Day, and he is the greatest gift of all! “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.”

Published in: on August 14, 2021 at 7:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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