Funeral for +Paul Finck+
June 18, 2016
Trinity Lutheran Church—New Haven, MO
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sow in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before the nations.
Sue, David, Jonathon, Rick, Lisa, dear family and friends, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
On July 28th 1950, Paul decked himself as a bridegroom and went to meet Sue, who was adorned as a bride. There, God joined Paul and Sue together in one flesh, bridegroom and bride, husband and wife. What God joined together, only death has separated. But as lovely as that day undoubtedly was, and as decked out as Paul and Sue were, it’s nothing compared to the clothes he now wears.
John reports of his vision of heaven: And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, “What are these which are arrayed in white robes, and whence came they?” And I said unto him, “Sir, thou knowest.” And He said to me, “These are they which came out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (Rev 7:13-14) On Monday afternoon, Paul left this tribulation and joined their number, his robe bleached with the blood of the Lamb. As Isaiah prophesied, now it is fulfilled for Paul. Let us today give thanks to God, our heavenly Father for
Paul Finck—Clothed in the Righteousness of Christ
It is true that Paul now stands before the throne of God with his white robe, but it’s not something entirely new for him. He was first clothed with the righteousness of Christ when it was washed over him. A few pours of water with God’s name added to it provided Paul with a baptismal garment. Often times infants (and sometimes adults) will be dressed in white clothes to show that they have put on Christ, as St. Paul writes to the Galatian Church. Just as God provided tunics of animal hide to cover the nakedness of the first sinners, so also Paul was covered with Christ, his spiritual nakedness and shame was hidden from God’s sight for the sake of Christ.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, writes the Prophet Isaiah, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. Paul rejoiced in this gift. When he first went into the hospital a few weeks ago, I went to visit him and we had the Lord’s Supper. After the Benediction, he took Sue’s hand and said, “Clothed with the righteousness of Christ.” Like a bridegroom dressed to meet his bride. Which is precisely what happened. Because with a little bite of bread and a sip of wine, Christ, the heavenly Bridegroom gives His true body and blood. In this Sacrament, the two become one flesh. We are all members of His body, and what God joins together in the Holy Supper, not even death can separate. It is medicine of immortality.
You may notice the white garment that covers Paul’s body today. It’s called a funeral pall, and it’s a sign that we bring nothing to the table at the eternal feast of the Lamb. Male or female, rich or poor, Jew or Gentile, slave or free—no one is righteous, not one. All are alike condemned to death by God’s holy Law. But there is a righteousness that is revealed apart from the Law, the righteousness of Christ which was manifest in His death on the cross. And so the cross now covers Paul’s body as we lay it to rest to remind us also that death is not the final word when the Crucified One is involved.
For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before the nations. Isaiah turns on a dime and switches from a marriage metaphor to an agriculture metaphor. Perhaps that’s fitting for Paul, who grew up on a farm and made a living selling farm equipment—among a number of other things he did during his full life.
But today we lay this body into newly dug soil. But St. Paul (the Apostle) has something to say about St. Paul, whose body lays before us. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raise in incorruption. It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is nature; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly (1 Cor 15:42-29).
The image of the earthy is the image of Adam, the image of sin and finally death. It’s what we see today in our own sight. The heavenly image, on the other hand is the image of Christ. It is an image revealed to faith. The righteousness that covers Paul—the righteousness of Christ—is a heavenly righteousness. The second Man came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the virigin Mary. He was crucified under Pontius Pilate, He suffered and was buried. But then He rose again on the third day, according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven.
And because Paul bears this image, which is restored in Christ Jesus, what we plant in the ground today will be raised again on the Last Day by the heavenly Father. Because that’s what plants do. They break through the soil and reach heavenward with new life. So let us greatly rejoice in the Lord, and let our souls be joyful in God.
In the name of + Jesus.
Jacob W. Ehrhard