Summary: A Funeral sermon for a faithful, elderly woman.
Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, through your Holy Spirit, open our 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 the life to come. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. Amen.
Let me begin by expressing to you Ab, and the rest of your family, not only my personal sympathy, but also the sympathy of our congregation. Quite frankly, you and Yvonne have been well loved and respected members of our congregation for more than the 20 years that I have been your pastor, and so we share in your grief, and lift you in our prayers and concern, that God’s grace might bring you his peace.
Yvonne struck me as a quiet, unassuming, loving person, who was very faithful in her worship of our Lord. And every Sunday she was here, she would always greet me following worship, with a handshake and wish me a good day. In fact, over the past couple of years, when she was able to come to worship, using a cane and Ab’s arm to steady her walk, she would still greet me at the entrance to the nave.
Of course, our handshake then provided us with a little bit of humor. No matter what hand in which she carried the cane, I would reach for it, telling her that I could use either hand to greet her. Sometimes I would even turn my hand backwards, telling her I could take her greeting any way she wanted to give it.
And I would assume that Yvonne must have been a pretty good cook. For outside of her growing frustration with her health, there were only two complaints that I ever heard her voice. One was that she really did not like the food at White Cliff. The other, spoken more out of a sense of concern, was, and I quote, “Ab can’t boil water.” Ab, I’ll take that to mean that Yvonne preferred her cooking to yours.
The truth is, Yvonne loved you, her family very much. And over the past few years, when she spent time in the hospital or the nursing home, her greatest concern that she voiced to me on my visits, was concern for you. In so doing, she expressed to me a very special, genuine love for you, her husband and children.
Yet, over the past few years, we have all seen Yvonne’s health gradually deteriorate. It was difficult for us all to witness, but especially for you, her family, to experience. And as we have watched Yvonne’s health wind down, rather quickly during the past month or so, we may have experienced our own anxiety winding up. Our hopes that she may have been healed of her various diseases, slowly gave way to the thought that she might not be with us much longer, and the hope that she need not suffer indefinitely. It is a painful transition to make, for all involved, as we face the finite existence of life here on earth.
Listen to how Paul expressed his faith, as he perceived his life here on earth coming to an end. Paul writes, in his letter to the Philippians, and I quote, “For I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance. It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be put to shame in any way, but by my speaking with all boldness, Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death…
If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which I prefer. I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you…” End quote.
I believe this is the struggle that Yvonne faced, as she neared the end of her life. She dearly loved you, her family, and cared for you deeply. She wanted to be with you, cook for you, and do what she could to enhance your life with her presence. And yet she knew, that the ultimate goal of her faith, was to be with her crucified, risen and ascended Lord, as a baptized child of the kingdom of God.