Funeral Sermon for Charles "Chuck" P. Sciortino

Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn
Messiah Lutheran Church
Kenosha, Wisconsin
Monday after Rogate (April 28, 2008)
Funeral Sermon for Charles P. Sciortino
For an audio MP3 of this sermon, CLICK HERE

TITLE: “Charles Overcomes the World” (John 16:33)

Family and friends of Charles, especially Lillian, Sherri, Dennis, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews. Grace and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our text for today is from St. John chapter sixteen as follows:

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”” (John 16:33 ESV)

Charles “Chuck” P. Sciortino was born September 19, 1931 in Milwaukee, the son of Mariano and Jennie Sciortino. He was baptized and confirmed into Christ in 1958 here in Kenosha. On September 22, 1958 he married his dear wife Lillian. They were married nearly fifty years. He lived most of the rest of his life here in Kenosha, and died in Christ on April 23, in the year of our Lord 2008. “‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” ‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!'” (Rev. 14:13)

One thing that is for sure about Chuck’s life, it was definitely interesting. Fork trucks, woodworking, spaghetti, cakes, children, grandchildren, travel, jokes, the Army, married life, one could hardly contain all the stories by Chuck and about him in a day, far less in a sermon. I’ve only known Chuck for the past four years or so. My memory of him, among others, is that whenever his health allowed him to come here to church, he was always dressed to the nines. In a time of exaggerated casualness, Chuck and Lillian have always stood out as wanting to show honor and respect to the Lord in His house. It is a rare treat.

But things were not always bright and shiny for Chuck. I couldn’t begin to list his illnesses and ailments over the years. Heart disease and Parkinson’s probably are the most obvious. But these sicknesses ate away at him. They robbed him of life and vitality. I know it was painful to watch. It was for me, and I had only known him a few years. It made him cranky, if we’re honest about it. I’m sure it would all of us.

But this morning isn’t finally about Chuck. It’s about Jesus. You see, the suffering which Chuck endured, the hardships, the pain, and even his death itself, these are all the result of sin. Chuck was a sinner. It’s in his family. It’s in all of us. This sin infects us, wrecks things, ruins the best laid plans. Sin is not satisfied to ruin lives. It wants to ruin you for all eternity. There is nothing Satan wants more than for trials and hardships to drive you away from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

But that is the one thing that didn’t happen to Chuck. Just about fifty years ago, he was baptized. When he was baptized, Jesus life and death and life again became his. God washed away all Chuck’s sin. He was cleansed, purified, washed in the blood of Jesus and declared holy and righteous in God’s sight. When that blessed even happened, things changed for Chuck. I don’t mean his life got easier. It may well have gotten harder. He still sinned. He still suffered the weaknesses of this mortal life. He still died. But things changed nonetheless. Because Chuck is baptized, he could say with the prophet Job,

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!” (Job 19:25-27 ESV)

Chuck will rise again from the dead. As sure as the sun comes out each day, whether we see it or not, Chuck will rise again at the last day. On the last day our Lord will awaken him from death. Chuck will hear the call of the angel, and will rise again. Death has no more dominion over this saint. It cannot hold him down, just as it could not hold our dear Lord down in the tomb on Easter morning.

But this morning we grieve. We grieve because Chuck is not with us, at least not in the way we remember him. We remember him alive, but grieve because he is dead. But our grief is different. Our grief is set in hope, because our Lord promises to raise Chuck from the dead once again. Our Lord promises peace to Chuck and to you. Hear again those beautiful words of Jesus:

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”” (John 16:33 ESV)

Our Lord Jesus Christ gives you hope this morning. Chuck is with Jesus. He has overcome the world by the blood of Christ. He is without pain, without aches or sorrows or worries. He is one with Jesus. And so are you, dearly baptized. Jesus washes you in the waters of holy baptism. He promises eternal life to you and to all who trust in Him. We will be reunited with Chuck, and with all the saints. That is God’s promise. He says, “I have overcome the world.”

So be at peace, Chuck. Be at rest, and we look forward to the day where we are reunited with you again in heaven. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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