“It Was a Passing Parade That Jesus Didn’t Pass”                         June 9, 2013

I Kings 17:8-24 & Luke 7:11-17                                                         Stephens City UMC

 

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

I.                   Every week it seems like the media reports the death of a famous person.

A.    This week we learned of the death of David “Deacon” Jones, the feared pass rusher and Hall of Famer who played for the Los Angeles Rams and in his final year the Washington Redskins.

1.     It was Deacon Jones who was asked by the Allen family to present George Allen when Coach Allen went into the Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

2.     Our country also lost Frank Lautenberg, Senator from New Jersey, who I believe was the last person in the Senate who had served in World War II.

3.     My age group probably isn’t aware but for those younger than me MickDeth died who was an American heavy mental bassist.

4.     Now be honest, how many of you were hip enough to know that?

5.     For my age group, especially the males, there was the passing of Annette Funicello, one of the original Mouseketters and America’s Sweetheart, who died on the same day as the first female British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

6.     And for all age groups back on April 2 Jane Henson died who with her husband was a co-founder of The Muppets.

7.     You could say that they were part of a passing parade.

B.     And that parade is not limited to famous people but every week when we have prayed during worship we have included the names of family and friends who have passed from this life to the next.

1.     A lot of people I knew back when I was a child are no longer here on earth.

2.     The Rev. Charles Henrickson in commenting on this matter quotes George Burns who had the honor of playing God in some movies “Every day when I get up in the morning, the first thing I do is check the obituaries. And if my name isn’t there, I get dressed and have breakfast.” (Henrickson, “The Passing Parade,” June 10, 2007)

3.     One day his name was there and some day each one of us will make that section of the newspaper.

C.     To some degree life is a passing parade of death.

1.     We’re all in that line and in our New Testament Lesson for today we get to see one of those processions.

2.     Luke in writing his gospel has us stationed at the gate of a town called Nain.

3.     We have been following Jesus and have just gotten to the gate when we are met by a bunch of people transporting a dead body to the cemetery.

4.     It’s sad because the deceased was a young man who was the only son of a widow woman.

5.     People were crying because things were out of order.

6.     Children are supposed to bury their parents, not the other way around.

7.     Plus, without any males in her life to care for her because that’s the way it was back then, this woman was probably going to end up out on the street and in a short amount of time perish herself.

8.     She was burying her son, but the odds were that she wasn’t far behind in joining him in the grave.

D.    So you could say that there was a parade of death heading out of town, but Luke tells us about another parade, this one heading into town and leading that parade was Jesus, the Lord of Life.

1.     And Jesus stopped the death processional by speaking and he did so far more effectively than a pastor I recently read about.

2.     This pastor was new to his congregation and community and since he was new the local undertaker tried to get him involved by asking him to conduct a graveside service for a homeless man who had died.

3.     The burial was at a brand new cemetery and being new himself the pastor got lost.

4.     Finally, he spotted a backhoe under a tree with several workers eating lunch.

5.     The hearse was already gone, so the pastor went over to the grave and looked inside.

6.     The lid was already on the vault so he told the workers he would make the service short.

7.     Indeed, he offered a short message, but the workers added their “Amen’s” which really inspired him so he continued preaching longer and with greater power.

8.     Finally he finished and informed the workers that they could close the hole.

9.     He was feeling pretty good about himself until as he was driving away he overheard one of the workers say, “Man, I’ve put in a lot of septic tanks, but never had a reverend bless one before.”

E.     Jesus was more effective than that pastor according to Luke partly because Jesus was in the right place at the right time.

1.     Jesus always heads up the parade of life for Jesus brings with him life.

2.     The fact is that life is more powerful than death.

3.     There were two passing parades – the parade of death and the parade of life – and as Rev. Henrickson says “The Lord of Life stops the death parade dead in its tracks.” (Henrickson, “The Passing Parade,” June 10, 2007)

4.     Jesus could have passed by the Parade of Death.

5.     He could have said “I’m too late.”

6.     He could have said, “She’s just one more widow.”

7.     He could have said, “Death will claim others.”

8.     But Jesus would not pass by.

9.     So Jesus went up to the funeral bier, the casket, the coffin and Jesus ushered in the Kingdom of God.

F.     Jesus went up and touched because in heaven there is no need for a funeral bier, no need for a casket, no need for a coffin, and no need for R.K. Shirley or any of the Joneses and any of the Omps because in heaven they will all be out of a job.

1.     They know that and they are happy about that, but today let us give thanks that Jesus brought heaven to earth and in so doing he conquered death.

2.     Jesus has died the death that covers all our deaths in whatever our need.

3.     And this story we read today is but a forerunner, a harbinger of Easter when death was defeated forever.

G.    So here’s the good news – Jesus speaks life into the bodies of dead and dying sinners.

1.     People physically die but people can die in other ways long before their physical death.

2.     Some people die the death of unhappiness – they just aren’t ever happy.

3.     Some people die the death of sorrow – they never scar over but continue to bleed so that the life drains out of them.

4.     Some people die the death of disappointment – they had dreams that didn’t come true so they stopped dreaming.

5.     Some people die the death of failed relationships – they fell out with someone they loved and believe that no one could ever love them again.

6.     Some people die the death of guilt – they gave into temptation and think they could never repent or be redeemed.

H.    If you are one of those people then listen – Jesus is speaking to you.

1.     The Jesus who showed up in Nain and stopped the Death Parade has come here to Stephens City to stop any present day Death Parades.

2.     Jesus says to any who are dead or grieving, “Arise, I say to you arise and come join my Parade of Life – a Parade that will never pass away!

3.     So now it’s up to you – which parade are you going to get in line with?