Summary: A funeral surmonette for an elderly lady, based on Psalm 23 and Jude verse 24.
Before Gladys’ moved to Bradford Manor, I remember visiting her one day up at Redroofs, there were a number of times I visited, but this day as I moved into a tight sort of a spot to see her I bumped into another old dear, not too much of a bump but boy did I get a telling off from this lady. Gladys however was happy to see me.
One of Gladys’ favourite scripture passages was Psalm 23. This psalm is a Psalm of David, I think for all of us there is plenty in this Psalm to identify with.
This starting verse “The Lord’s my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” David had himself been a shepherd, his knowledge of a shepherd’s responsibilities was first hand, this was king who knew all about docking and footrot. Back in the day as we know from the stories about David that there were animals, bears and lions that would see sheep as an easy meal, except for a shepherd sheep were defenceless, but a shepherd made a formidable foe, Goliath and the Philistine army were to find this out.
Not wanting for protection the sheep of a well shepherded flock were safe. Gladys had had her times of trial, but knew what it was to have her prayers answered, to have her needs met, in recent years her health had failed, at 93 she has gone to be with the Lord, her shepherd, her soul restored in his presence, I know that those of you who attend this Corps have heard me many times talk of those words of Jude, the brother of Jesus, a man who felt unworthy to say it; but referred to himself as the brother of James, James himself could only refer to himself as a servant of Jesus Christ. Jude declares what is a wonderful benediction. “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with Great Joy.” (Jude verse 24) Gladys, a faithful traveller with her Lord is now restored in his presence, the pains of old age, her mind restored, she is without fault in Jesus presence, no wonder there is great joy!
“He guides me in paths of righteousness for his names sake”, Gladys’ life had been one of being guided and guiding others, she was a righteous woman, a caring person. Righteousness is about having a right relationship with the Lord. As a shepherd leads his sheep, Gladys sought after God’s guidance in her life. Because she had this relationship with God today we praise him, with our singing and our words as we remember her life.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” When we come to Christ, we come to an understanding that there is no need to fear death as he has gone before us as the first to be raised from the dead. We have an eternal body awaiting us when these are worn out. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians says; “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.” (2 Corinthians 5:1). At some stage we all have to leave the camp ground.
The protection of God is with us, we need not fear death or evil; David said it when he stated “I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” We have an assurance that God has what it takes in the here and now to be our shepherd, here and for eternity.
I’ll skip over the preparation of the table in the presence of my enemies for unlike David who was a warrior king, I don’t believe that Gladys was a person who had enemies. It is interesting that David though even as king saw his place as being a person under the authority of God. His anointing came from God, his overflowing abundance came from God.
“Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Gladys has lived a full life, a life with its ups and downs; so let’s continue to celebrate a lady who lived a full life, a life that may not have always been materially prosperous or physically easy, but a life that counted for family and her community, a life in step with her God, a lady who will be remembered as one of the good ones. Let’s also celebrate that she now dwells in the house of her Lord forever.