Us Christians are an interesting breed, aren’t we? We live a life of paradoxes. Now, but not yet. Joy in the midst of despair. Life in the midst of death. It doesn’t make sense, but that’s the Christian life. That’s something Gary knew well. He knew joy in the midst of despair, life in the midst of death, now but not yet. What does this mean? The Christian life is lived knowing full-well what the eyes see, but knowing also that to which faith clings. The eyes see death and decay and difficulty. Faith sees life and restoration and perpetual joy. And that’s why we’re here this morning. We’re here to celebrate that what our eyes see, what Gary’s eyes saw, is not the end of the story. Death is temporary. Death, though it hurts, has been robbed of its eternal sting by Jesus’ death and resurrection. Thanks be to God who has given us, who has given Gary, that victory through Christ Jesus Our Lord!
Why does the Pastor preach? Scripture explains that the role of preaching the Word of God is how saving faith is created: “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ … So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:14-17). The Augsburg Confession, seeing this connection between the Preaching Office and saving faith, summarizes Scripture on the Office of the Holy Ministry in this way: “To obtain [saving, justifying] faith, God instituted the Office of Preaching, giving the Gospel and the Sacraments. Through these, as through means, He gives the Holy Spirit who produces faith, where and when He wills, in those who hear the Gospel. It teaches that we have a gracious God, not through our merit but through Christ’s merit, when we so believe” (AC V 1-3). The whole reason the Pastor preaches is so saving faith can be created, so we know that “we have a gracious God” who loves us and has saved us from our sin by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.