Summary: A funeral sermon preached for a long time member of our congregation who has been a shut in for several years. She died at 94
Eleanor, October 29, 2009
Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, through the power of your Holy Spirit, open out hearts and minds to your Word, granting us a renewed and strengthened faith, that we might find comfort in your grace, and hope for the future. Enable us to trust in your gift of eternal life, accomplished for us through the death and resurrection of your Son, Jesus the Christ, so that we might live our lives in the confidence of being reunited with all your redeemed saints in your heavenly kingdom. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. Amen.
Let me begin by expressing to you, Eleanor’s family and friends, not only my own personal sympathy, but also the sympathy of our congregation. Quite frankly, Eleanor has been a respected member of St. John’s for more than the 20 plus years that I have been their pastor. Thus we share in your grief, and lift you in our prayers and concern, that God’s grace might bring you his peace.
Eleanor has always impressed me as having a similar attitude toward life as did my grandmother. She had a set of ethics by which she lived her life, along with the old German attitude that everyone else should live by those ethics as well. I guess we could say that like my grandmother, that made Eleanor a little bit stubborn. Of course, like my grandmother, she could have picked up some of that stubbornness from her husband, Gus.
There is just something about Eleanor’s generation that is endearing to me. She had a tremendous work ethic. She often told me that she rarely ever missed a day of work, and when she was at work, she gave her best effort. Of course, she would also lament that those days seemed to have gone by the wayside, because, according to Eleanor, with the exception of her sons, people don’t have a good work ethic today.
And that brings me to the thought that she truly love her husband and her family. I can’t think of a time in which I brought her communion, that Eleanor didn’t fill me in on what was happening in the lives of her kids and grandkids. But then, true to that old German attitude, Eleanor didn’t always approve of all of the decisions that her family had made. She could be hard on you guys at times. But she still loved you.
But lest you think that I am painting a picture of Eleanor as this stoic, prim and proper woman who never let her hair down, I have a story to share with you. Gus and Eleanor were very good friends of Floyd and Ginny Bortz. One time, when I was out making my home communions, I stopped at Floyd and Ginny’s, only to discover that Gus and Eleanor were there visiting. After about a half-hour of conversation, Eleanor suggested that I could save myself a trip to Palmer road, and commune all four of them together.
That would be nice, I said, but I only have three of the little communion cups in my communion kit. It was then that Ginny said, well, Pastor Ron, I think I can take care of that. And when Ginny returned from her kitchen, she set down on the coffee table four, rather decent sized wine glasses.
I then retreated a little and quipped, I hope you don’t expect me to fill those glasses. My little vial of communion wine only holds three ounces. Eleanor then responded, “Oh, Gus and I have the wine. It was our turn to supply the beverage. And sure enough, Eleanor went into Ginny’s kitchen, and brought out a bottle of wine, handed it to me, and said, “Fill them up.”
Well, I did just what I was told. After all, you can’t win an argument with people from that generation. And when I had celebrated the sacrament with them, and exchanged pleasantries, I left. And all four of those great persons had one of those “gotch-ya” grins on their face, as they lifted their half full wine glasses to toast me good-bye. Of course, I didn’t have a problem with using a full glass of wine for communion. After all, the Seder meal, or Passover, calls for four glasses of wine to be consumed at its celebration.
But the truth is, the most important story at this moment, when we gather to remember Eleanor as a person whom we have come to love, as a person who has loved us, is that she was also a person who loved and was loved God. Eleanor was a person of faith, who, humbled herself beneath the cross of Christ, and blessed God’s Spirit for enabling her to keep her faith, even though, as age took its toll, she was not able to worship any where near as often as she wished.