The Message of Comfort at the Christian Funeral of Frank W. Thompson
Delivered by the Rev. Mark H. Hein, Pastor of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Lockport, Illinois, on Wednesday, January 3, 2018
Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from the One who is the Lord of Life, our Savior, Christ Jesus. Amen.
Dear Family Members and Friends,
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.”
We are! Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses… those who point us to Jesus and show us what the Christian faith and life is all about. It includes the witness of the Prophets of old and that of the Apostles. It includes the Early Church Fathers and countless men, women and children down through the ages. It includes, yes, Frank Walter Thompson.
He is in good company… the best of company… and we are as well… for knowing Frank and having whatever length of time the Lord graciously gave us with him here on earth.
For you see, our dear brother taught us about laying aside every worldly weight… physical and spiritual.
He taught us about dealing with sin which clung to him and still does to us so closely.
He taught us about running the race set before us… the race from birth to death and all the years in between… all of our time here on earth.
But of far greater importance, and what is his true legacy to you dear family members and all of us, is what Frank taught us about the race of faith… our coming to faith, living in the faith through thick and thin… through all of the ups and downs of one’s life… keeping the faith regardless of what comes our way… regardless of what we face… to never lose hope, but to remain confident, always trusting in Jesus “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Frank’s life was a full life, a simple life and he, a simple man, who just happened to be among the wisest I know… the steadiest I know… among the most grounded I know. He was like a rock… and a rock to many. But you need to know it is all about the Rock that Frank faithfully stood on. And that Rock is Jesus.
Frank Thompson kept it simple. He kept his priorities straight. He kept His eyes on Jesus and lived his life under the shadow of the cross. He was all about loving the Lord, first and foremost, and loving one’s neighbor as one’s self, starting with the love that he had for his family, his brothers and sisters in the faith, his friends, acquaintances and everyone. As you know, this is the sum of the Commandments. It is also the sum of Frank’s life.
Talk about being a great Christian witness. At the top of the list of examples would be his faithful worship of our Lord, his coming to the house of the Lord, right here, Sunday after Sunday… and this in spite of the fact that Frank was many times in pain, serious pain. He could hardly walk. He made his way to St. Paul’s, parked many times on the eastside… who knows why… meaning, he needed to navigate the steps. He slowly made his way into the narthex, took off his signature hat, gave me and anyone in the narthex a firm handshake that one would expect from a person half his age, always asked you how YOU were doing and then made his way into the sanctuary of the Lord. Oh, how Frank loved this place, this holy ground.
And I have to tell you, I was so humbled and almost brought to tears more than once as I watched Frank, hurting, in pain, leave the pew and laboriously make his way to the communion rail and kneel, hurting, in pain, to receive again and again the antidote for all hurt, pain, sin and death itself, namely the precious Body and Blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Though not deliberately, our dear brother showed us how we can all, at times, be such wimps… such babies and even fools. How we can so easily forget what “this” is all about… what Almighty God offers and conveys to us in His Son, Christ Jesus… here… in His Church…in Word and Sacrament… the greatest of treasures, namely eternal life. The greatest of treasures including forgiveness of all our sins, complete healing, restoration, a new start, a fresh start and true peace… divine things which, if we really, truly comprehended, would leave us willing to literally crawl to this place to be here, right here, where Jesus is… where Jesus comes and bestows these things, divine things, personally, oh-so graciously and lovingly to us… to ALL!
You know, I have mentioned Frank quite a bit here, holding him up as a wonderful witness to the Christian faith, the Christian life. But if you think this message was… is… all about our dear brother, you missed the point. It was… is… all about Jesus Christ working in Frank Thompson, through Frank Thompson whereby we were all blessed… so blessed with Frank Thompson in our lives… and we will continue to be blessed in the Lord, by Lord, who will comfort us in this time of mourning and will give us the strength to carry on… to finish the race which the Lord has set before us here on earth until, just as He did with Frank, He calls us to our heavenly home.
Indeed, now in life and soon in eternity, to God alone be the glory. Amen.
May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.