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Delivered By
Pr. David Fleener
Delivered On
June 28, 2019 at 2:00 PM
Central Passage
Revelation 22:1-5
Funeral: Miriam Wise

Pr. David Fleener

Funeral sermon—Miriam Wise; June 28, 2019

Revelation 22:1-5, John 11:17-27


              Dear family and friends of Miriam: Grace and peace be yours from God the Father, who will dry all our tears, and from Jesus the Messiah, our healer, our Resurrection, and our life. Amen.


              Several months ago during a visit, Shelly handed me a card. “Look at this! This is Grandma’s old nursing card.” And it was, dating back to the 1940s when she first got her nursing license. For some reason or another, we had never talked about her nursing career. We hadn’t talked about her decades at the Marion VA, her experiences caring for sick, wounded, or disabled veterans. We had spoken about her Native American heritage. We’d also talk about our dogs. There was Deedee, the old, blind dachshund. There were our Chihuahuas: Hank, Sandy, Coco, and my own dog, Pablo. They often stole the conversation with their play. But it wasn’t until very recently that I learned that Miriam had been a healer.


              And it is in her healing work that Miriam’s story meets God’s story. All healing is an outpouring of divine energy. Jesus shows this healing energy in a complete, perfect way in his healing of the crowds. He heals the disabled, he restores people to their right mind, he gives sight to those who suffer from blindness, he gives movement to those unable to walk, and in his greatest miracle, he restores life to the dead. And every single healing is not done for its own sake, but to point to the greater healing offered in God’s Realm. It’s that kind of healing we hear about today in our reading from Revelation.


              A man named John is the recipient of all the visions in the Book of Revelation. And here, in the final chapter, he shows us a river. Bright as crystal, shimmering with the water of life. And on both banks of the river is the tree of life. This tree made its last appearance in the Book of Genesis, when it was in Eden along with the tree of knowledge. For thousands of pages, this tree has been utterly absent from the Scriptures. In Genesis, the way to the tree was guarded by a flaming sword after humanity’s expulsion from Eden, but here—here it can be accessed freely, no matter which side of the river you’re on. Both fruit and leaves of the tree are useful. John tells us that “the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations”. God doesn’t just give physical healing. God doesn’t just provide individual healing. God provides healing on a universal level. Whole communities of people are healed. Entire nations. The world, made new, will experience a restoration to wholeness that we can scarcely imagine.


              It’s that kind of universal healing that God gives Miriam now and at the Resurrection to eternal life. It’s that kind of universal healing that God also gives us. We do suffer in this realm, to be sure. Many of you could speak better about suffering than I can. And we don’t experience perfect healing on this side of heaven. But everything Jesus does—his healings, his miracles, his teachings—gives us a glimpse into life on the other side of death’s “sullen stream”. Everything that we read in Scripture points to this healing given to us in Jesus the Messiah—in a provisional way now, and in a full, perfect, complete way in the world to come.


              And Miriam is already part of that world to come because she belongs to Christ. She has left our realm of time, of suffering, sickness, and death. And she has entered that realm where there is no more pain, no more sickness, no more death. That realm where she experiences her Savior as the resurrection and the life in a way that we cannot experience yet. Miriam is there. And one day, we will be reunited with her. Amen.