Funeral Sermon, Emma Hodel / Tuesday November 7th 2017
November 7th, 2017
Theme: Looking forward to
Intr – Good Christian friends: what are we looking forward to in life?
Sometimes we are looking forward to a new job, to a new opportunity in life. Sometimes it is college, the wedding ceremony, a new house. At some point we look forward to children; we also look forward to retirement. As we walk down the path of our existence, we are always looking forward to something. So too was the case for Emma: she looked forward to many of these things in her life.
Maybe speaking about looking forward to something sound strange today since after we cross a certain age we usually say we have more life behind us than ahead of us. That was surely the case for Emma since she reached the blessed age of 91 years on this side of heaven. But I know that even at this late age she always looked forward to something. While I can’t say very much about all the things Emma looked forwards to in her life, the things she specifically looked forward to, I think there is at least one thing I know for sure. Last Friday I had a good conversation with Gail and Sharon, while we had our funeral-planning meeting. They told me about many aspects of her life, and I learned also about the blessed opportunity they had to serve and help their mother daily until the very last day. Then I learned one thing, one special thing that she looked forward to: she always looked forward to be with the Lord.
What did it look like? Her looking forward to being with the Lord? It looked like this. Emma looked forward to every Sunday when she would join her family of faith at The Church. That comes from early on we she had more life ahead of her than she had behind. That looking forward to was along with her as she walked through life and she carried it on to her elderly days. Even after the health issue that prevented her from coming to Church altogether she would look forward for the visits she received from pastors and elders from her congregation. Because in those visits she received the Holy Supper for the forgiveness of sins and salvation. As Christians, we know that Christ is physically present when the Supper is celebrated. I can say for sure then that she looked forward to be with the Lord; to receive the Lord in her home.
What do we look forward to? We all are in different stages of our lives at the present moment, so certainly the answer to this question could outnumber the pews we have in the Church. I think we might even get the answer that it is sometimes hard to look forward as we could, or as we would like to, because there are times when we are not looking forward to something in the future but rather we are caught staring backward. We look to the past, we suffer with our past; we even get stuck in the past. Then, we forget that looking excessively to what is behind us will get in the way of our speeding ahead.
God invites us to look upward. He daily invites us to look to Him for help, comfort, forgiveness and hope. His voice calls us to stop looking only inwardly to figure out solutions and answers because we are too weak sometimes, too sad at other times and not as strong as we think all the time. Our outward look to His Word, to his Love comes from faith in Jesus, who went upward, to His Cross, to bring us what we needed the most, and to which we couldn’t add the least of our efforts. He offers to every heart as He offered during 91 years to Emma’s heart His presence at her side, at your side, in us through faith, to walk with us and to take hold of us whenever we need it.
When we face death and loss, it becomes hard to look forward. Because we tend to dwell in memories and good times, and we usually have hard times figuring out how to live from that moment on. Still, God invites us to look forward, to look ahead in life and know that in every step along the road we are in His hands. By faith, as we look forward we know that if death and pain abound, His Grace overwhelmingly surpasses them in intensity and closeness, bringing comfort and hope to our weary and sorrowful hearts. We can rely on His promises. We will find rest in Him. We will find strength to carry on. Walking by faith we will look forward to what is still to come.
And, if we stop to think, at any given moment in our lives actually we always have more life ahead than behind us. Yes, because in Christ we have the hope of the resurrection for life everlasting. Human life once started at conception has no end. We believe that Emma departed in peace last week to be with God awaiting the last day, when we with faith in Christ will enter eternal life. This hope and promise is for each and every one of us. “Who wants to live forever?” In Christ we will. We will be reunited with Emma and all our loved ones to live all the life that we have left ahead of us, which means: eternity.
Cc – Forward. This is the direction none of us can avoid in life. Time never rolls back. So as we necessarily move forward, looking forward to many things in life, we can, as Christ granted to Emma, look forward to something precious. We can look forward to be with the Lord on every new day of life that He bestows us. We can look forward to appreciate every gift He gives us – starting with our family and our loved ones. We can carry on in life knowing that in Christ we have one blessed and certain direction to move to: heavenward. Amen.