Eula Wagner Funeral Sermon - Philippians 1:3-6 September 21st 2022 / Faith, Hope & Love - Farewell & Godspeed
Eula Wagner Graveside Service Sermon, Pr. Ted A. Giese Wednesday Sept 21st 2022, Regina SK: Season of Pentecost Philippians 1:3–6, "Faith, Hope and Love - Farewell and Godspeed"
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at The Day of Jesus Christ.
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends, Family of Eula Wagner. Eula faithfully attended Mount Olive from 1997 to 2013 and when I heard she would be moving to Calgary to be closer to family I asked her if she would like to transfer her membership to one of our churches there. She said no, so I offered to have a short moment for her at the end of her last Divine Service with us at Mount Olive to mark her departure. It’s called Farewell and Godspeed to Members and she very much appreciated it. I’ll share that with you today.
It begins with this address:
Beloved in the Lord, in Holy Baptism you became a member of the holy Christian Church, and our Lord's Word and Sacraments have nourished you in this congregation for 16 years. As we bid you farewell and Godspeed, hear the words of the apostle Paul:
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at The Day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And then we had this prayer:
Lord God, heavenly Father, we give thanks that You have so faithfully nourished our sister with us in the communion of this congregation. Bless, protect, and defend her as she now departs from us. Preserve her in the confession of Your name and in loving service to others. Keep us in fellowship with all Your saints, and bring us at last to the joys of Your heavenly kingdom; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
And then it concluded with these words:
Go in peace and joy. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
She was most pleased with this and thought it was a very kind and moving send off as she headed to Calgary. It acknowledged something very true, her faithfulness over the years; just as it also acknowledged another truth, her hope as a Christian firmly centred on Christ Jesus.
First a word on faithfulness: For all our faithfulness, for all Eula’s faithfulness, it is good to remember that our faithfulness is not without fault, there are times when we struggle, when faith feels like an uphill battle, when the World challenges our faith and the winds of the times we live in blow hard against us. In those moments we need to call to mind that while we feebly struggle at times there is one who met the challenges of the World and faultlessly stood against the winds of time and that is Christ Jesus. He is ever faithful even unto death, even death on a cross for sins He did not commit and for this reason Eula firmly centred her faith on Him. Jesus is the faithful one who is full of forgiveness therefore when we struggle and fall we trust that He comes to us with blessings in His hand to lift us up. He is the one who leads us through ups and downs, the one who is with us in the valley of the shadow of death, the one who follows us all the days of our life, the one that restores our soul, comforts us, marks us as His own and teaches us the hard lessons of contentment.
Contemplating the nature of Christ Jesus’ faithfulness think again on what Saint Paul wrote to the Philippian Christians, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” On the day she left us for Calgary I was able to say those words from Scripture with a good conscience about Eula and her faithfulness at Mount Olive, trusting that her faithfulness was a reflection of the faithfulness of the one who is faithful above all others.
This leads us to hope. Our hope in not in ourselves, or in the works of our hands, it is not in our heart or in our pureness of thinking for all of these things fall short of the glory of God, our hope as Christians, Eula’s hope as a Christian is in Christ Jesus and in His Heavenly Father and in the Holy Spirit. This is why Saint Paul writes to the Philippian Christians about his certainty on their behalf saying, “I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at The Day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Eula, as with all Christians, are baptised in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and God begins this work in us and God brings this work to completion in us as well. In the Small Catechism we are taught and we confess that the Holy Spirit “calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith,” that He does this not just for the church in general but for each of us in particular, for Eula, for you and for me. And while it has taken a fair amount of time for us to finally gather together to lay Eula’s earthly body to rest she has not been restless in her spirit or in her mind or in her soul, by the grace of God those parts of her have been taken to Christ Jesus who promises to come and take us to Himself in our hour of death. And now as we mark and remember that Eula’s earthly life in Christ has come to its completion, we likewise remember and mark that The Day Saint Paul speaks of, The Last Day, is yet to come and when That Day comes, when The Day of our Lord Jesus Christ comes, He who began a good work in Eula and in you and in me will have brought that good work of faith to completion in Christ Jesus. That was her hope, that is the hope of the Christian, keep that as your hope, remembering we are the redeemed and Jesus is the Redeemer.
Dear ones Saint John promises us that, “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in Him, and he in God. So,” Saint John writes, “we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for The Day of Judgment.” And so with joy we remember that all the good that Eula had in her life, was a gift from God, including her salvation and redemption, in the sending of His Son God the Father loved the world and not just the world in general but Eula, and you and me in particular. For this reason we have spoken of the faithfulness of Christ, and the hope we have in Him and the love of God towards us and towards Eula, therefore with a thankful heart I conclude with these words from Saint Paul, “so now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Take heart, Eula is loved by God in Christ Jesus, and you are loved by God in Christ Jesus. He is faithful, keep your hope centred on Him.
Today we again say “Farewell and Godspeed” to Eula but we say it as ones with hope that we will see her again in Christ Jesus our Lord: To God be the glory, rest in peace Eula. Amen.
Let us pray: Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Philippians 2:8
 2 Corinthians 5:21
 Psalm 23
 Romans 3:23
 John 14:1-3
 1 John 4:15–17
 John 3:16
 1 Corinthians 13:13