Second Reformed Church

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Roman Theodore Memorial Service

Roman Theodore Memorial Service
[Psalm 23]
February 4, 2017 Second Reformed Church
Hear the Word of God:
            The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
            He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
            He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
            Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
            Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
            Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
            I’m sure most of us have heard this Psalm of David before – some of us may even have it memorized – and it is often read at funerals.
            But do we understand what David was talking about?
            David was a shepherd before he was king of Israel.  Shepherds take care of sheep.  They have sheepfolds in which to house the sheep which kept them safe from predators and thieves – there is only one way into the safety of the sheepfold.  And the shepherd is responsible for the lives of the sheep – to lead them and feed them and save them even to the point of giving his own life in battling predators and thieves.
            David begins this Psalm – this song – addressing the LORD – that is, the One Holy God of Israel – the God Who is just and loving – the God Who rejoices in glorifying Himself – the God Who cannot allow any sin or imperfection to remain in His sight.
            And David tells us that this God is his God, that is, David, who was a murderer and an adulterer, had somehow been made right with God, and so God always fulfilled His daily needs – he would not want for what God knew he needed for the day.
            This God gave Him protection and peace, salvation and righteousness, because it showed how great God is, and despite continuing to have enemies and be in a position to be harmed or killed, David did not fear, because the rod of discipline and the staff of guidance comforted him – growing in the knowledge of and obedience to this God Who satisfied him in this life no matter what else happened.
            And David knew that, in the end, the goodness and mercy of God would be what would bring him into the eternal Kingdom of God.
            Roman was a quiet man – as I knew him.
            He came to worship for several years, participated in the service, and enjoyed our coffee hour and fellowship time after service.  He also enjoyed our Women’s Association sale table – from which he bought bags of VHS movies.
            After a while, Roman quietly came to me and told me some of his story – his growing up in Maplewood, the death of his parents, and the trouble he had after the town noticed cars in his backyard.
            I know a number of us helped him with odd jobs, food, and gifts – and Roman expressed his gratitude.
            His first priority, as I understood it, was his dogs.  He had to care for them and make sure they were well and cared for above all else.
            Roman had received some work which kept him from attending worship with us more recently, but we were glad that he had work.
            It was truly a shock to hear that he died.
            I thank God for his example as a person who cared for others and animals.  I am glad he was able to join us for worship for some time.  And I am glad for the chance to reflect with you for these few minutes as we mourn his death and consider who he was and continues to be for each of us.
            And so, it seemed well to me to quickly say something about how we become right with God – the Lord God Who was David’s Shepherd as he wrote in Psalm 23, and it is my hope and prayer that each of us will consider Who God is and whether or not we can say He is “my shepherd.”
            How do we become right with God, David’s Shepherd?  How can we say that He is our Shepherd?  How can we recite Psalm 23 and know and believe that it is true for each of us?
            Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father” (John 10:14-18, ESV).
            In the Gospel of John, Jesus repeatedly affirms that He is God in the flesh.  And here, He uses the imagery of being the Shepherd that David knew and was made right with God by – Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
            Jesus explained that He was sent by God the Father to incarnate as a human to be the Shepherd of the sheep that the Father gave Him.  Jesus is the Shepherd of all those who repent and believe savingly in Him.
            Jesus came with the mission to lay down His life to secure the salvation of all those who would ever believe.  Anyone who believes that Jesus is God the Savior and repents of their sin will be saved by Him.  He will make them right with God and bring them into His sheepfold – into the Kingdom of God now and eternally.
            Anyone who wants to be right with God and receive all that is spoken of in the 23rd Psalm must believe in Jesus – God in the flesh – Who lived and died and rose to make all those who repent and believe right with God.
            That’s what I believe.  That is what I told Roman.  And that is what I tell you:  Jesus is the Only Way to be right with God; He is the Only Way to God and to eternal life now and forever.  Please don’t wait.  As we see the reality of life and death today, call out to Jesus, repent of your sins, and be made right with God.
            Let us pray:
            Almighty God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepard of the sheep, our One Hope and Only Savior, we thank You for the life of Roman Theodore. We thank You for all that was good and commendable in him.  And we ask that You would comfort all those who are mourning, and send the Holy Spirit to open hearts and minds to the Hope You have provided.  For it is in Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.

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