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25 April 2018

Funeral Sermon: Fearless Life, Fearless Death

Preached on Psalm 27
The Funeral of Darold Willard Deterding
25 April AD 2018

Title: Fearless Life, Fearless Death (MP3 Audio)

Psalm 27::1 Summary: Out of the blue, I heard that a dear friend’s father had died. Then I learned that the family wanted me to bury him and preach his funeral sermon. I’d known Darold since I went home with his son Curtis in the mid-70s, during my freshman year in college. Our families had found ways of intertwining ever since.

When possible, I try to preach a funeral sermon using the departed saint’s confirmation verse. In 1949, his pastor had done me a big favor by giving Darold Psalm 27:1 as his special Scripture. It spoke well to his life and ministry. To his triumphs and sorrows. To his gains and losses. The entire Psalm proclaims a gracious God setting Himself against foes of body, mind, and spirit and keeping Darold safe into life everlasting.

It also addresses a grieving family and friends, proclaiming peace and strengthening faith in the same loving God. For Darold had no monopoly on the Psalmist’s words. All of Christ’s family own the same strength and salvation. Even death holds no fear for those who remember that they have already died —their sinful natures put to death in Baptism as their new selves are given life.

Darold now sleeps in Jesus. And on the Last Day, he will join all the saints to forever “look upon the Lord in the land of the living.” Now it’s our turn to carry on in faith, to continue waiting “for the Lord,” to “be strong, and let [our hearts] take courage.”

Text: The Lord is my light and my salvation;
   whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
   of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
   to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
   it is they who stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
   my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
   yet I will be confident.

One thing have I asked 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 gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
   and to inquire in his temple.
For he will hide me in his shelter
   in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
   he will lift me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up
   above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
   sacrifices with shouts of joy;
   I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
   be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek my face.”
   My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
   Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
   O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
   O God of my salvation!
For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
   but the Lord will take me in.

Teach me your way, O Lord,
   and lead me on a level path because of my enemies.
Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
   for false witnesses have risen against me,
   and they breathe out violence.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
   in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
   be strong, and let your heart take courage;
   wait for the Lord! Psalm 27

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Fearless Life, Fearless Death

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 23; Isaiah 40:28-31; Colossians 2:6-15; John 10:1-5, 11-18


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