This past week family and friends gathered to celebrate the life of my father, Charles Darnell Brady, and affirm our faith in the resurrection, the resurrection of Jesus our Savior and the transformation of our own death into life. The audio from the entire service can be found here. Click on these links for the audio (and text) of my brother’s remembrances of our father and my sermon. Below is the text upon which the sermon was based (as always, the audio is much more expansive).
24 April 2019
1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 35-38, 42-44, 53-58
The Holy Gospel of our Lord Christ according to John
5:24[Jesus said to them,] “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.25“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.”
This is the word of the Lord.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! This past Sunday we celebrated Easter, declaring again the news of our risen Lord. We celebrated not just an historical fact or event, but the revealed truth that death, while it continues to be a part of life, is no longer the end, no longer our punishment. Through Christ, his death and resurrection, anyone who believes in Him will enter into everlasting life. Just as my father has done this past week.
Charles Darnell Brady, “Dad” to Steve and me, Granddad to our children, “Poppa Chuck” and Tex” to so many, and a servant of Christ, was born on the 26thof March in 1937. That year, that day was Good Friday. Dad was released from his physical burdens, this perishable body, on Maundy Thursday 82 years later. Today we are here to celebrate his life, to love and support his wife and family, and most of all, as he himself often said, we are here to proclaim the Good News of Christ.
Steve and I are thankful to be back with you in this congregation of love. My mother Ann grew up in this community, first when the church building was downtown, and later when this structure was built. It was here in this very sanctuary that she and our dad Charles were married. My brother Steve and I were baptized here, learned the Word of God from Dr. Halverson, and confirmed our faith in this community. As Rob Norris said last week, Steve and I are children of 4th, but we were first children of Ann and Charles. And with you we are children of God. Thank you for joining us today in our grief and hope.
It is that hope, the hope of the resurrection, that brings us together and that Dad was adamant was the only thing to be preached at this service. In so doing, we reflect my earthy father’s true character, because he not only clung to that faith, he confessed it openly, gently, and gracefully to all those who would hear.
We grew up in a household that discussed and debated the Bible. With a 30-plus minute drive from home to church and back, we had plenty of time not only to listen to a sermon from J. Vernon McGee on the way in, but to dismantle and dissect the sermon preached by the pastors at 4th. As we grew and developed, the more complicated questions of theology, such as election and free will, began to emerge. My father offered what he sometimes suggested was a simplistic answer to this question, but one that I still find compelling and is present in our Gospel reading today.
Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoeverhears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.” Who shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven? Who shall be granted eternal life? Who shall open their eyes in the presence of our Master? “Whoeverhears” the word of God and believes. Thatis who will be saved. Thatis what dad would emphasize, what he called the “whosoever” passages. Jesus died for the sins of all the worldso that whosoeverbelieves in him would have eternal life.
“Truly, truly,” Jesus said to us, “an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.”
Jesus speaks not only of the resurrection that is to come, but to all of us who are dead even as we live and breath. As Paul wrote, “To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit islife and peace” (Rom. 8:6).
The promise of the Gospel is not onlythat we will have eternal life, life after this world, with Jesus and all the saints, like Charles and all those faithful witnesses who go before us, but that we might live today. “An hour is coming and is now here!” Today, if we are focused upon the needs and priorities of this world, “to set the mind on the flesh,” we will find nothing but weariness, disappointment, and inward death.
But today, if we “live according to the Spirit,” we will find life and peace. This is the Gospel of Christ, that we will be saved for all eternity, yes!, but also that we may live in peace and strength today, even in this midst of mourning and grief.
It was Jesus himself who promised us, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)
This is the Peace of Christ. This is a peace that the world cannotgive. It is not the sort of peace politicians and diplomats rightly work for. It is notthe cessation of violence or hardship, as much as those are the fruit of the Spirit at work in our lives. The Peace of Christ is the knowledge that in spite of the violence and hardship, in spite of the suffering and grief,we are secure and safe in the arms of our Savior.
The Peace of Christ means that, although death remains a part of thislife, it is no longer the final punishment of thisworld, but rather it is the rending of the veil that leads us into eternal life. The Peace of Christ is the knowledge and conviction, the deep-seated faith that “death has been swallowed up in victory” and that nothingcan ever separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord.
This is the freedom of the Cross and the promise of the resurrection. That no matter how difficult our life becomes, no matter how depressed …how sad… we may feel, no matter how attacked we may be, we are secure in the truth of the resurrection. It is a rebirth that begins in our hearts todaybut is fully realized in the transformation of death into life. My father held firm to this truth and went to his rest confident that he will be raised by and through Christ.
I suspect there are none here who have not heard this all before, if for no other reason than you knew my dad and he openly shared his faith with everyone he met. Yet we all know so many who have do not believe in the resurrection, who see it as wishful thinking, a fairy tale to bring comfort to the simple.
This was just as true in Jesus’ own day. Not everyone, not even all the Jews, believed. The Pharisees did believe in the resurrection of the dead and the day of the Lord’s Judgment. But the Sadducees did not. Therefore, they were sad, you see? That’s another one from my dad.
The Pharisees believed what the prophet Daniel taught, that the day will come when everyone, the living and the dead, will be raised up and will stand before the throne of God to be judged. The resurrection is the moment when the brokenness and hurting, the injustice and wickedness of thisworld will be wiped away and “those who are wise [those who have been redeemed through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross] shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever” (Dan. 12:3). Thisis the resurrection that Jesus and the Pharisees believed and taught. It is the restoration of God’s rule over all creation and the redemption of all humanity.
So. The resurrection is not the end of a fairy tale. It is not “and they all lived happily ever after.” The resurrection that we confess is the Day of the Lord’s Judgment bringing justice and mercy, it is the healing and restoration of God’s creation which humanity has broken, it is the transformation of our fragile and perishable bodies into the everlasting and imperishable spiritual beings that we were created to be. And thatis just the beginning of Eternal Life in Christ.
But that does not mean we do not grieve. It does not mean that we are not sad or that we do not mourn. The resurrection of Christ, which is the confirmation and proof of our faith and he is the “firstfruits” of those who will be raised from the dead. It is our great consolation, the great comfort. When Paul encouraged the church in Thessalonica, he did not say that they should notgrieve, but that they should not “grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.” We are not like others, we have hope, the hope of the resurrection, which is just the beginning of our Eternal Life in Christ.
We love and so we mourn. We miss this wonderful man and so we cry. Never short change that, never apologize for those tears, never regret your remorse that you do not have one more day with him. But even so…even so, we rejoice to know that we shall join him and all those who have died in the hope of the faith, through Christ our savior.
Let us now affirm our faith, the faith of my father, the faith of our Church, in the words of the Apostles’ Creed found in your bulletin.…
Prayers of Comfort and Thanksgiving
Merciful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who is the Resurrection and the Life: Raise us, we humbly pray, from the death of sin to the life of righteousness; that when we depart this life we may rest in him, and at the resurrection receive that blessing which your well-beloved Son shall then pronounce: “Come, you blessed of my Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world.” Grant this, O merciful Father, through Jesus Christ, our Mediator and Redeemer. Amen.
Grant, O Lord, to all who are bereaved the spirit of faith and courage, that we may have strength to meet the days to come with steadfastness and patience; not sorrowing as those without hope, but in thankful remembrance of your great goodness, and in the joyful expectation of eternal life with those we love. And this we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Savior.