Sermon for the funerals of Candi Goochey and Heidi Pierce - February 23rd, 2019
My beloved people. Brothers and sisters. Family and friends of Candi and Heidi. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ who raises the dead. I basically want to end there. Mic drop. Because I think that is what is needed now. Here. Today. Grace. Peace. Resurrection. Because everything else fails. Words fail. Emotions fail. All of it fails, apart from what we receive from the Lord – Grace and peace and resurrection.
Grace. That unmerited favor of God. God looking down upon the mess of this world. Upon the sin-soaked mortality of the whole creation, and through all the attempts that are made to destroy one another, God’s grace comes to you. Somehow. When you are not looking it is there. If only the Spirit opens your eyes to see it. This reality of life and salvation being with you. God holding your hand. Hearing your prayers. Seeing your tears. Sending you a shoulder to cry on. A friend to love you. Christ there.
Peace. Actual peace. Reconciliation with truth. With reality. With one another. Because without peace we will not live. We will only survive in despair over the loss of two beautiful young women. Not living and loving and growing. Darkness of what was done to them, keeping you from seeing the light. Peace being needed so that despair won’t win. That in God, in Christ, there is his work in you, gathering you up, allowing you to release yourselves into his care, and the care of his church and ministers. Loving you when you feel like you are left to suffer alone because of this horrible tragedy.
Resurrection. Life everlasting. That gigantic finger Christ gives to death, that even when a life is taken from us, the devil thinking he has won, darkness thinking it has prevailed, there stands Christ in all his glory to say, “Suck it. You have no power here. Not in my house.” That resurrection is coming. Death will be no more. Life and salvation are yours because God says – “Here, a gift for you.” And so, we see these pictures and have these memories of Heidi and Candi, and we grieve, but we live in hope knowing that even though they were taken from us, they will have the last laugh. For whether we live or we die, Paul says, we are the Lord’s. If we are the Lord’s, it is his word of promise we hold onto, “though you die, yet shall you live.”
In our Gospel today, Christ has waited to come and heal Lazarus. He says it is for the greater glory that this is happening. Yet, in that waiting comes the demand from Martha – “If you had been here Lord, my brother wouldn’t have died.” Martha being us. Speaking the truth. But Jesus comes in all his Jesus-ness, for her and for you. Speaking life into death. Being the literal Resurrection and the Life. Jesus having the eyes and nose to sniff out our ways in the world, our sin, our suffering, and know that death is real here. That what is needed is life. Where what all the world shows so often is death, but in Jesus we see life happening. We see tragedy bringing us together in this place, and that is Christ in our midst, bringing grace and peace and resurrection. Now.
I don’t need to know much about Heidi and Candi to know them by just looking at this room. In the narthex. In the parking lot. Knowing that they have had this impact on you. Being even a part of your life ahead. The legacy of Candi and Heidi becoming these points of life and resurrection for you. You look at their faces and remember their names and stories and impacts on your lives. You take that with you now and they will never be really dead. You will keep them alive in your thoughts and hearts until the day the trumpet sounds and all are made new in Christ.
But just like the signs we have in the church – the Table, The Baptismal Font, the Cross of Christ, add now Heidi and Candi to that. The signs are there to point you to Jesus. To point you to life everlasting, while reminding you of the necessity of him. That the sinfulness of the world is the purpose for this Christ to come to you. To heal. To forgive. To raise from the dead. He exists for you for such a time as this.
So, when you leave here today, remember not only their lives, but actually also their deaths. Remember the implications of what was done. The scope into which sin haunts us. Darkness blinds. Death coming as a thief. Tell it to your kids. Your kids’ kids. That they might know the true necessity of grace and peace and resurrection. For without the work of God in us I wonder where we might be.
God looks upon you today, and he knows these two children better than you do. And they know him. He holds them in his arms. He knows the story, and he speaks to us to say – “I can use that.” For if in the tragic deaths of Candi and Heidi, if their life and death become a legacy for which another tragedy is avoided. Another sinner, dead in the ways of this world, is raised to new life. Depression and despair finding healing in the works of the Spirit of God amongst your neighbors. Your friends. Your family. Life coming out of the deaths of these two children of God, then God’s work of grace and peace and resurrection, of forgiveness of sin and life everlasting, is happening in you. Candi and Heidi being beacons for the sake of peacemaking between all. If your children are told of what has transpired and do not forget, then maybe the next argument will end. Help will be sought. Confession and contrition the norm. Sin will lose its grip. Christ will be there to intercede, and through the never-ending blessed testimony of Candi and Heidi, our saints in light, you all will be drawn even closer into the grace and peace and resurrection that is yours in Christ. Thanks be to God. Amen.