Sunday, August 9, 2015

Christian Funeral for Norman Westin

John 14:1-6; Romans 8: 31-39; Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to remember, to celebrate, and to give thanks to God for the life and faith of our departed brother in Christ Norman Westin. We give thanks to God for Norman’s life because all life is God’s gift, and Norman’s life was a unique and special gift to us. Truly, each of your lives would have been something different and something less without Norman, for he touched each of you in a special way, and that is why you are here today in his remembrance.
We celebrate Norman’s life and his faith because he was a kind, caring, and compassionate man, and because he gave life to so many others – his dear children Richard and Claudia, his precious six grandchildren Gregory, Diana, Emily, Katherine, Julia, and Amos, and his beloved helpmate in life, through good times and bad times, through richer and poorer, until death parted them, his love, his wife Margaret – Norman gave life to you in so many ways, even as he gave life to so many more in service, in charity, in kindness, and by inspiration. Therefore, we celebrate a life that was well-lived. Norman’s life was well-lived because it was not lived in selfish pursuits or in meanness, but in humility, in love, and in selfless service to others, just as the Lord called him to live and to do.
And, lastly, we celebrate, remember, and give thanks this day because we know that Norman, even though he has died physically, is more than alive spiritually with his creator, God the Father, and with his redeemer, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and that he is now among that multitude of hosts in white robes standing before the throne of the Lamb of God in heaven praising the one who has defeated death and has secured real, lasting, even eternal life for all who call upon the Name of Jesus and trust in Him. Now he waits in peace and joy until that day when you will join him there, that day when you will see Norman again, not as a memory or a photograph, but face to face, when you will put your real flesh and blood arms around him again, hear his true voice again, see his true face again, and feel his true heart beat again, healthy and strong, full of life that can never die.
Yes, that is what we are truly gathered here today to remember, to celebrate, and to give thanks to God for. And, that will surely bring tears – tears of sorrow comingled with tears of joy – for, we are not like those who are without hope. For, we worship a God who has passed through the valley of the shadow of death and has destroyed the door of the grave that would keep us in, who, even now walks with us as we make our pilgrimage through that dark valley and will lead us safely into His Father’s house where He has prepared a place for each one of you who will believe.
I only met Norman a couple of times, so, I cannot say that I really knew him. Nevertheless, I found him to be kind and peaceful, welcoming, and attentive. From speaking with his family and learning about Norman’s life and accomplishments, I am all the more confirmed that my positive first impressions were accurate and true. Norman was a man who made plans, set goals, and strove to achieve them. He didn’t just play baseball and football in high school, but he lettered in those sports and he captained the football team. He wasn’t just an architect, but he served on the Mt. Kisco Architectural Review Board and was Chairman of the Mt. Kisco Planning Board. And, when he did a crossword puzzle, he did it quickly and correctly the first time, with a pen! Margaret related to me that Norman liked to tell a funny story about his commutes on the train. As it was, there was a group of businessmen who used to have a contest to see who could finish the crossword puzzle in the newspaper the quickest. One man would frequently shout out “I’m done!” Amazed that this guy could finish first again and again, the men asked to see his puzzle. It turns out that it was filled, not with the correct answers, but with nonsensical gibberish! The man confessed that he didn’t really care about the puzzle, but that he simply enjoyed the camaraderie and friendship and sense of belonging. I suspect that Norman liked that story because he valued those things too. Norman loved his family and adored his grandchildren, and they adored him too. He had a wonderful sense of humor, an easy laugh, and an ability to make friends wherever he went. He will be dearly missed by many.
Sorrow is a part of our lives since the Fall. Truly, there is “a time to be born, and a time to die” as much as there is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” But, all time is the LORD’s, and He gives, and He takes away as He knows to be best – Blessed be the Name of the LORD always. And, despite our times of sorrow and mourning, despite times of suffering and pain, despite times when it appears that God is not in control, or that He is vindictive, or that there is no God at all – despite all that, “God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?” Truly, nothing can separate us from the love of Christ – not tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, or sword, and not even death. Therefore, if not even death can hold us, then what have we to fear? Nothing. For, our Good Shepherd Jesus shares our sorrows and pain, our grief, and even our death, and He lives victorious over sin, death, Satan, and the grave. And now He accompanies and leads you to His Father’s house where He has prepared a place for Norman, and for you, and for all His children who believe and trust in Him and who follow Him.
“Let not your hearts be troubled.” You believe in the LORD? Believe also in His Son, Jesus. For, He has prepared all things for you, and He will come again to take you to be with Him in His Father’s house forevermore. There you will be reunited with Norman, and with your mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, friends, neighbors, and with all the saints before the glorious throne of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, where there will be no sorrow, no weeping, no pain, no suffering, and no death, but only peace and joy in the presence of God.

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

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