This is the Good News of Christianity. We all wonder what happens when someone dies. We all fear our own death. We also all hear a lot of platitudes about people being in Heaven who may or may not have been serious believers. The most common lie in our time is that good old uncle George is in heaven in spite of never having shown evidence of belief – but because they were a “good person”. The sad truth is that George is probably just dead. He had probably not developed a spiritual life, not asked for and received forgiveness for his sins, had no relationship with Jesus and his sin polluted soul and spirit could not survive in the presence of a holy God. The Readings (John 11 an 14) help us understand why we are celebrating the Earthly and continuing spiritual joy of our beloved Sister in Christ – who was also a very good person, but who had developed a strong spiritual life that could survive in the presence of a holy God.
1. We are not just physical beings – we have a soul and a spiritIn order to understand the joy of our spiritual life we need to understand how things work in the spiritual dimension described in the Bible. God, for example, is omnipresent – can be present everywhere, including in Jesus and including in us.
· We begin physical life with a small physical body
· This grows a develops a soul – our mind, will and emotions
· Soul has an enemy – Satan deceives us through our minds
· We develop a personal spirit – connects our soul to God
· Our personal spirit grows stronger and dominates our soul if we develop a spiritual life by learning about Jesus and developing a personal relationship of prayer, thanksgiving, trust, self-examination, confession and forgiveness
· Those who believe in their minds and hearts receive the Holy Spirit who guides them, strengthens them and convicts them of sin – so they can repent, confess and be forgiven
· Life becomes a struggle for control of our soul between – our desires, Satan’s temptations and the voice of God
· If we do not nourish our personal spiritual life our personal spirit shrivels and may even die – separating us from God
· If we do nourish our spiritual life by Bible reading, prayer and public worship our spirit grows strong enough to be with God
· This is what we are celebrating about Donna
2. Good News is that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life
- Bible is clear that God is holy and cannot be in the presence of those who rebel against His Commandments and sin
- All of us rebel and do things every day that could separate us from God – in thoughts, words and deeds – done and not done
- Human situation is hopeless – no hope of being close to God
- Rebellion or Sin separates us, leads to spiritual death
- Good News is that God made a new Covenant in Jesus
- God created a new way to overcome human sin guilt
- God came Himself, in the person of Jesus, to die in our place
- This is called grace – undeserved forgiveness
- Jesus is the way because we all need to believe in Him and trust in Him as the only effective way to forgiveness
- Sin can only be forgiven if we repent, confess and specifically ask Jesus for forgiveness
- This is what Donna did every week in church – and why her personal spirit grew more and more powerful
- This is how her soul was cleansed from spiritual pollution and can now be in the presence of God
- This is what we are celebrating today.
Rather than vague platitudes about angels and light she chose the hard parts of John’s Gospel which directly challenge what many people – including some in her family really believe. She was very concerned that some have been deceived by false teachings and corruption in churches; and given up on the Church as a place of teaching, support, forgiveness, healing and hope. She would want each of you to discover the joy she found in her spiritual life through
· Reading the Bible and praying daily
· Being part of a church community where she received good teaching, support in the challenges of life and spiritual nourishment
· Discovering the truth that Jesus loved her personally, forgave her and would give her a stronger eternal spiritual life of joy
The celebration of Holy Communion which follows is an opportunity for us all to re-affirm our Christian Covenant and strengthen our own spiritual life of joy.