Memorial Sermon for the Reverend Dr. Harry Waite

by Sean Foster on January 18, 2014

The Reverend Dr. Harry Waite was the minister of Hopedale Presbyterian Church beginning December 11, 1969 for eight wonderful years.

As he shared in the History of Hopedale Church, he recalled, that it almost never happened. The vacancy team that was established after The Reverend Tom McKennel left, went out to hear a number of potential ministers that they were interested in hearing, one of them being the Reverend Harry Waite who at that time was the minister at Atwood Presbyterian Church. They selected a date and went out to hear Harry only to discover he wasn’t in the pulpit that Sunday, he was actually preaching in another congregation as guest speaker.

The Team was not to be deterred and they selected another date and asked the Interim Moderator to ensure that Reverend Waite would be in his pulpit. Once again they discovered that he would be in another pulpit preaching an anniversary service. And so they decided to go hear Harry preach the anniversary service at that other church.

Over the last several years Harry suffered with Parkinson’s, and suffered he did.

A few years ago Hopedale celebrated 50 years of ministry and to celebrate, we invited all of the past ministers to come and share the Word with us. Knowing that Harry had Parkinson’s I went to visit Harry thinking that it would be impossible for him to preach the Word, but that it should not limit Harry from coming to share in the celebrations and participate in some way in the worship. However, when I arrived, Harry made it very clear to me that he wanted to preach. How would be the question that we would spend time answering; and together we devised a plan complete with logistics.

I remember one comment that Harry made to me: he said that of his entire ministry, he enjoyed most his time at Hopedale.

Harry is survived by his loving and faithful wife, Wilma;
His children Howard, Donna and Shane;
His grandson Chris and his extended family and friends.

When I die… I want the Gospel to be preached.

And for me, the Gospel can be stated very simply: Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead.

Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead.

The resurrection of Jesus is the corner-stone of the Gospel. Without the resurrection, without Jesus rising from the dead, our faith is without hope. It is futile!

Of course, these are not my words. I do not base my hope on my own authority, or even my own words; I base my hope on the resurrection of Jesus on the authority of the Scriptures, and those who were eye witnesses to Jesus victory over sin and death.

Paul the Apostle in writing to the Church in Corinth writes the following:
Now I should remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain.

For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas [who is Peter], then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to someone untimely born, he appeared also to me. I Corinthians 15.1-8 NRSV

Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead.

Jesus death and resurrection was not for himself. For Jesus who was without sin, He had no need to be redeemed from sin. Jesus was God of God. God is in no need of salvation. God, who is life, is in no need of winning life for Himself.

Instead, Jesus came to give us life.
• Jesus came to save us from sin.
• Jesus came to pay the price of sin.
• To offer sacrifice to pay the price of sin.
• To offer sacrifice to pay the debt of sin.
• That sin who no longer be the barrier that separates us from God.
• To give us victory over death.
• And to redeem all of us, Spirit, Soul and Body.

It was on the cross that Jesus atoned for our sin. And it was His resurrection, defeating death that gave us life. A restoration of the life that God originally planned for us.

There is no doubt in Paul’s mind that Jesus was risen from the dead.

Paul was once a persecutor of the church of Jesus Christ. He sought to destroy the Church of Jesus. He hated the name Jesus the Christ. And yet,
• Jesus went to Paul,
• conversed with Paul,
• and then called Paul to follow Him.
Paul met with the risen Christ. And there was no doubt in his mind that Jesus was risen from the dead.

But as he writes, he urges that we don’t just believe his testimony, believe those who were themselves eye-witnesses – not only of Jesus death, but also his victory over the grave. Jesus appeared to many after he was risen from the dead.

Paul gives a list. He appeared
• First to Peter.
• The to the twelve.
• To more that 500 – most of whom were still living (at the time he was writing).
• Then to James.
• The to the apostles.
• And then to himself.

Paul records six resurrection appearances, a list that is by no means complete, for the Gospel accounts record several other accounts where the risen Christ appeared to people,
• conversing with them,
• teaching them,
• walking with them,
• eating with them,
• before he ascended into heaven.

Let me just finish with a couple of verses from this passage of Paul’s concerning the resurrection. That we may be edified in the hope that we have in the resurrection of Christ, as we grieve the passing of a pastor; a friend, the Reverend Dr. Harry Waite.

Paul writes, But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead. He, [that is Christ] is the first fruits of those who have died. What this means is that Jesus was the first to be resurrected to eternal life, and we too share in this wonder; we too will be resurrected. It continues.. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, the first born, the first, created of humanity, [but] so all will be made alive in Christ – the first to be resurrected to eternal life from the dead. I Corinthians 15.20-22

So,… just as Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica, let us not grieve as those who have no hope. I Thessalonians 4:13 We have great hope! Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead.

I mean, please understand that Jesus redeemed more than just our spirits, our souls by dying for our sin and reconciling us to God. It is more than that. Jesus was raised from the dead. He redeemed our bodies and one day we too will be raised bodily, our salvation finally complete.

Today as we stop to remember, give thanks and celebrate the life of a pastor, a husband, a father, a grandfather, brother and friend. Take hope the Gospel. Jesus died for our sins and was raised from the dead. In Christ, we have life and life eternal.

A-men.

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