Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Christian Funeral For David Dean Wescott

John 14:1-6; 2 Timothy 4:6-8; Job 19:21-27

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
You meet a lot of people and personalities in this world and life. Occasionally, you run across someone who’s just a good person. They’re not perfect, of course, but they are kind, humble, always ready to help, always willing to give you the shirt off their back if need be; everybody likes them, and they have lots of friends. And yet, as good as they are, as kind, caring, and giving as they are, things just never seem to go easy for them; in fact, things frequently seem to go very poorly for them. Still, you wouldn’t know it by looking at their smiling faces, for they seem at peace, content, even happy; and they still care more about you and others than they do themselves. I think that you’ll agree with me that this describes our brother Dave fairly well. It also describes our brothers Job and Paul. And, save the part about him not being perfect, it also describes their, and our, Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who did all things well, and laid down His own life in selfless, sacrificial love for Dave, and for you and me, and for all the world.
Dave’s two loves in life were farming and trucking, through which he loved and served a whole lot of people. He was an active participant in FFA from back in high school to the present. Dave judged sheep at the State Fair, and he loved helping and encouraging young people, our future farmers. Similarly, Dave served over twenty years on the Blue Ribbon Foundation for the Iowa State Fair, of which he was a founding member, and he served on the Bremer County Fair Board for over thirty years. Through these boards Dave worked to create good, clean family fun and to advance the causes of agriculture and farming among the next generations. Dave was an active advocate for farmers and farming. Through his service with FFA and the State and County Fair Boards, Dave touched countless lives and had many, many friends. He was loved by both the Cattlemen and the Pork Producers, and that’s saying something! Dave was as comfortable behind the wheel of a combine as he was an eighteen-wheeler. In his youth he farmed with his uncle, and he was known to participate in the wheat harvest as it made its way from South to North. Of course, Dave spent his “summer vacation” farming with Merlin. Merlin was like a second father to Dave and he said of him, “I couldn’t have done without him.” Dave worked for Schneider’s Milling in Waverly for over thirty years where he did practically everything there was to do at one time or another; they called him their “#1 Man.” More recently he drove for Jensen’s trucking where he was so loved that Dave’s boss, Jim, called him every day in the hospital.
“Dave would help anyone at anytime.” “Dave would literally give you the shirt off his back.” “Dave had a big heart.” “Dave was concerned about others and not himself.” “Dave never said no.” Those are the kinds of things people say about Dave. Now, if only one or two people said that, there might be cause for doubt. But, nearly everyone I’ve talked to says these things. People don’t just say things like that to be nice, but they say things like that because they’re true, because they’ve seen it first hand, because they’ve been the recipients of Dave’s selfless, sacrificial kindness. But, why was Dave like that? What caused him to be so humble, caring, and giving? Was it just the way he was, like an accident? No, I don’t believe so. For Dave, it was just the right thing to do; and, for Dave, it was his faith in action.
Dave wasn’t a church-goer, mainly because he was always on the road. I hadn’t even met him until after his surgery down at Iowa City a few months ago. However, after a few minutes talking with Dave, I was filled with peace, recognizing the presence of the Holy Spirit inspiring Dave’s confession of Christ as his Lord and Savior. He was so humble, and he so appreciated my visit, even though he didn’t know me and hadn’t been to church in a long time. It didn’t really matter who I was, all Dave wanted was Jesus – and that’s precisely what I gave him. Dave wanted Jesus. He wanted Jesus’ mercy and grace. He wanted the forgiveness of his sins and the strengthening of his faith. He received all those things and more as we prayed together, and listened to God’s Word, and ate and drank Jesus’ body and blood together in Holy Communion. The last time I visited Dave his disposition had changed. Before, he had some hope that he might recover enough to return home and maybe resume driving again. However, the last time I visited him he had resigned himself to the reality that his earthly days were to be numbered in terms of weeks and days rather than years and months. That time for confession and absolution I used a rite in which the pastor asks the parishioner questions. It’s an opportunity for reflection upon one’s condition. “Do you confess to almighty God that you are a poor, miserable sinner?” Silence. Then Dave, almost groaning, said, “Yes Jesus.” “Do you confess to our merciful Father that you have sinned against Him in thought word, and deed?” “Yes.” “Do you confess that you justly deserve His temporal and eternal punishment?” “Yes.” “Do you believe that our Lord Jesus Christ died for you and shed His blood for you on the cross for the forgiveness of all your sins?” Silence. “Oh, yes.” Do you pray God, for the sake of the holy, innocent, bitter sufferings and death of His beloved Son, to be gracious and merciful to you?” Silence. “Oh, yes.” “Finally, do you believe that my forgiveness is God’s forgiveness?” “Yes.” Let it be done for you as you believe.” Then I laid my hands upon Dave’s head and pronounced the absolution, “In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you all your sins in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” Silence. “Oh, wow!”
Most of you likely do not know, but Dave pretty much lost everything he had in the last few months of his life. Why is that? It’s because of the kind of guy he was – giving, loving, selfless, and humble. It’s frustrating, but if he only would have asked for help, many would have been happy to respond. But, Dave being the kind of guy he was, wasn’t concerned about himself. Dave simply wasn’t concerned with earthly possessions. Easy come, easy go, was his attitude. In this sense, Dave reminds me of the patriarch Job. As you know, the LORD permitted Job to be afflicted in terrible ways. Job lost his possessions, his wealth, his family, and finally his health. When it was all said and done, Job confessed, “The LORD has given, and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the Name of the LORD.” Even when his flesh had been reduced to sores and ashes, Job confessed, “I know that my Redeemer lives, … and after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God.” Dave’s was a Job-like faith. In the midst of tragedy and suffering, Dave took account of his blessings and was thankful and content. Dave’s treasures were not worldly things that rust and break, that thieves break in and steal, but Dave’s treasures were heavenly things: His Lord and Savior, his friends, people who needed his help, you. Though he should lose everything else, even his health, Dave still had all those things, and they can never be taken away from him.
Like Paul, Dave was tired and stretched thin, poured out like water. He knew the time for his departure had come. It was like someone flicked a switch from on to off. That’s how quickly Dave changed his outlook from one of hope for recovery to one of contented acceptance of his impending death. This change was accompanied by a story, a vision, a dream, likely many of you have heard. Dave saw his grandfather, just as clear as you see me – no, clearer, more brilliant and alive than that – and his grandfather said to him, “Come home.” It was after that moment that Dave began to prepare to go. Dave had fought the good fight. Dave had finished the race. Dave had kept the faith. Now was the time for rest – true Sabbath rest; to be comforted in the presence of His Lord and Savior Jesus, awaiting the Day of Resurrection when Dave and all who love His appearing will receive His crown of righteousness.
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in God’s Son Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Jesus, who had everything, gave it all up for Dave, and for you, taking up your poverty, your weakness, your sin and guilt, your death, and giving you in exchange His holiness, innocence, and righteousness, life that cannot die, and sonship with His Father that cannot be taken away. Jesus did this out of love for you and for His Father who loves you so much that He sent His only Son to die for you that you should be restored to Him. Jesus became what you are so that you can become what He is. Jesus walked through the valley of the shadow of death and suffered death for you. But, He was righteous and innocent and death could not hold Him. Jesus’ knocked down the gate that would have kept you in your grave and made it an open door into His Father’s house. He has gone there before you to prepare a place for you who trust in Him. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life; there is no other way. But, for those who put their trust in Him – those like Dave – they are with Him when their earthly race is run. And, more than that, the Lord will raise them up on the Last Day in a glorified, immortal body to join with their immortal souls and live with Him, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in His heavenly kingdom forevermore. There you will see Dave once again, face to face, with your own eyes, hug him with your own arms, and no one will take your joy from you ever again.
In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

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