Funeral Sermon / Gertrude Kreis / August 26th, 2014 / Psalm 103 / Pastor Terry Defoe
My remarks this morning are based on these words from the 103rd Psalm:
1 Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 2 Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits.
(New International Version)
This morning, we gather here in this place to remember Gertrude Kreis and to pay our respects. I would like to do that in the context of Holy Scripture, specifically the inspired words the 103rd Psalm. I knew Gertrude well and had visited with her, and previously with her husband, Edmund,often. I pray that God would bless our consideration of His Holy Word this day, and bless this gathering with His gracious, consoling, enriching and renewing presence.
The Psalm we are considering this morning – Psalm 103 – is part of our worship service. It was also part of Edmund’s funeral service back in 2011. Psalm 103 presents us with an extended list of the “Good Things” God has given His people by His grace.
Psalm 103 lists at least seven Good Things that God has given. Reading from verse 3 to 6 we find these words:
3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. (N.I.V.)
I’d like to focus on just three.
First, God’s Forgiveness
Second, His Love and Compassion
And third, the renewal he has for his people.
God’s forgiveness brings His people a fresh start in life when they fail to measure up to His will. His forgiveness establishes their relationship with Him and maintains it afterwards. God’s love and compassion enrich this life and promise His people a place in heaven with him. His love and compassion are seen most clearly in the life, and death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. The renewal God brings uplifts the spirits of His people and reminds them of his many precious gifts – both physical and spiritual – that they enjoy in this life and the next..
Psalm 103 carries within it a gentle reminder that all of us are mortal and that someday, this life will end. Verses 15 through 16 say:
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
God’s people are prepared for the end of this life, knowing that absolutely nothing can separate them from God’s love, seen so clearly in His Son, Jesus Christ. There’s absolutely no doubt about it. Jesus’ cross and empty tomb brought great comfort to Gertrude Kreis all her life, and not just to her but to a multitude of others as well. For 82 years, Gertrude was continuously blessed by the forgiveness her Savior had earned for her at the cross. His love and compassion brought her great joy. And his ongoing renewal brought strength and motivation for the journey, which was often very challenging for her.
There were many “Good Things” in Gertrude’s Life.
First, her life was blessed by innumerable good things received from God. As noted above, there were many spiritual blessings evident in Gertrude’s life, all originating in her Savior, Jesus. These blessings were received in the context of the church – which was her beloved faith family. She was comfortable in this environment and missed it when she couldn’t be here. Gertrude’s family and friends were a great blessing to her as well – God’s gifts of grace.
Secondly, there were many good things that Gertrude was able to give back to others. She knew that she had been blessed by God, so that she could be a blessing to others. And she certainly was. Gertrude Kreis was a selfless person, always giving. We can see that so clearly in all the love and support she offered her beloved husband Edmund, with all of his health issues over the years. Gertrude was a wonderful servant of the Ultimate Servant, Jesus. Her whole life was, and is, a clear example of what Christian service looks like. Her service for God and for others was faithful, and uncomplaining. Gertrude was a family-oriented person and that included her faith-family. She was close to her children as well as to her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She had a listening ear and a compassionate soul. She knew how to build people up and encourage them. And they did the same for her.
Gertrude’s faith was – and is – a multi-generational faith.
What I mean by that is, by God’s grace, her positive and enriching faith has been passed along to the generations that followed her. We see evidence of that often here at Mount Olive. When I think about Gertrude Kreis, I can’t help thinking that hers was a life well lived. Faith was definitely the frame on the portrait of her life. She remembered the Bible verse given to her on the day of her confirmation. It’s found in Matthew, chapter 26, verse 41 –
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Gertrude did watch and pray. And God blessed her with a robust faith. Life dealt the cards for Gertrude, but, by God’s grace and enabling, she played those cards and she played them well. And, amazingly, in the midst of all the challenges she faced, she never lost her sense of humor. God has a place for Gertrude in heaven, based on what her Savior, Jesus, did for her. She would be pleased to know that her funeral was a time when the faith of many was strengthened and encouraged. I pray that God would grant that. In Jesus’ name. Amen.