Sermon for the Memorial of Allen Thomason, August 29, AD 2020

Isaiah 25:6-9

Grace, mercy, and peace be to you in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” So reads the end of our text from the prophet Isaiah. Waiting is never pleasant. It’s never what we want to do. Waiting is what we do when we are trying to do something else. Yet Isaiah says here that those who have waited are those who will be glad and rejoice in the salvation of God.

Now is certainly a time of waiting. Waiting for the end of this memorial, the end of the pandemic, for the hope that life will go back to normal. Yet this waiting is punctuated by the fact that it is without Al. Al has died and now we wait. Not that we wait for the pain of his loss to go away in this life. Not that our waiting will grant us peace in itself. I did not know Al, from but from what I heard, he was constantly working on something. Yet he also knew that he needed to receive. He came to church to wait upon the Lord in order to receive the gifts of God.

What we wait upon is described here by Isaiah, “On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.” The Lord prepares a banquet of the best food and wine. Wine that has been aging to perfection, not to make drowsy or drunk, but ready to lighten the heart and make merry. The finest pastries and cakes, fresh vegetables and fruit, and the best cuts of meat cooked to perfection.  This is the feast of our Lord, the Lord of hosts. It is a victory celebration. What is the victory?

And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken.” It is God’s victory over death itself. Our God took on flesh and became man, Jesus Christ. He lived a perfect life, but was sentenced to die on the cross. He died. But Jesus Christ, the God-man, could not be held by death. He rose again three days later defeating death for all time. Death could not swallow him. He swallowed death for us. Now it cannot harm us.

This does not mean we do not die. We die, and Al has died. But we wait with hope. Not because of anything Al did, but because of what Christ did. Al was baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection. In his baptism he already died to sin and was given a new life in Christ. His soul is with Christ now, but he awaits the resurrection, when, in Christ, he will rise from the grave because death has been swallowed and cannot hold him. Death cannot hold anyone who is in Christ.

So for us in Christ, we wait. We do not wait mourning without hope, although we will miss Al for now. We do not wait in despair, though life may tempt us to doubt God’s promise. We wait for that day when Christ shall return and all who are in him, baptized into his death, shall join in his resurrection and partake of that victory feast of the Lord of hosts.

Even these days, as we wait, we have the foretaste. We have the finest wine, the true blood of Christ, and the finest food, the true body of Christ, given every Sunday. Our Lord has not abandoned us to wait but joins with us now, sending his ministers to preach the word of the promise so we do not lose hope. That is what Al received in church. Not because he was better than anyone else, but he trusted in that strength to wait on the Lord. And now he waits in peace.

Christ has swallowed up death forever. We wait now, we may weep now, but not without hope. For one day, at the victory feast to come, there will be no more weeping. The curse of death will be gone forever. There will be no more shame or sorrow. And Christ will wipe away tears from all faces. So has the Lord spoken. Amen.

Preached at the Memorial Service of Allen Thomason at a funeral home in Lockport, Illinois

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