Summary: Funeral for a faithful woman who died in old age. The sheep know the voice of the good shepherd and need not fear even death.
Ella Freimark Funeral 22 April 2002 John 10:22-29
Rev. Roger Haugen
At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly." Jesus answered, "I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand."
Advancing in years, like any other stage in life, has its own joys and sorrows, pleasures and pains. Old age can bring with it infirmity. As the years go by one has to make sacrifices, giving up activities that were once a part of our every-day life. One hasn’t the same strength or energy. There are the inevitable disabilities and illnesses. All of this is a bitter reality which we all come to know. Ella knew what it was to grow old. It became tougher to get to those hockey games that she loved. She always said how she wished she could get to church more often but some days it just wasn’t possible. The times of illness and periods in the hospital took their toll.
But old age has its good side also. There are advantages, comforts and joys. After the hustle and bustle of the working years, comes a slower pace, time for good friends and good conversation. Retirement from the farm and moving into town, first Rabbit Lake and then North Battleford, meant that the long hard farming days were replaced by an easier pace and the opportunity to be involved in community affairs.
For those who look back on life and see a life of meaning and fulfillment, retirement years can be a time of thanksgiving and hope. For Ella Freimark these past years have been years of living faithfully and with joy the life that God had given her. Taking whatever came not asking "Why me?" but knowing that in the midst of it all, God had not forsaken her. Yes, death was at work diminishing Ella’s strength but it could not take away her faith or her hope. Her story is one of a life filled with certainty that no matter what happened in life, God was always leading her into the future.
We all want peace of mind throughout our life but especially in our later years. To find beauty and meaning in life one must say "Yes" to our aging and everything that comes with it. We find peace when we know with certainty that we belong to God and nothing is able to change that. In our baptism we are given the gift of no longer having to fear death and once being freed from that fear, we are freed for life. We can look back on our lives and accept it for what it was, its joys and its disappointments, knowing that no matter what, God has never abandoned us.