Funeral Sermon / Arlene Hubick / January 2, 2016 / Psalm 57 / Pastor Terry Defoe
My message is based on the 57th Psalm, highlighting the following verses:
Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.
God sends forth his love and his faithfulness.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.
My heart, O God, is steadfast
I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.
Arlene Hubick's funeral takes place during the season of Christmas in the church year. Next Wednesday, the season of Christmas comes to an end with the Epiphany - the celebration of the appearing of our Lord. At Christmastime, Christian people around the world celebrate the arrival of God's Christmas gift to the world. They celebrate the arrival of God's own Son who came to restore humanity's broken relationship with Him. And then, at Epiphany, Christians celebrate the appearing of the One who enriches this life and promises our participation in the life to come in heaven.
A funeral helps all of us to be ready for whatever the future may bring. As we gather in this place to remember Arlene Hubick this morning, we are reminded of our own mortality. A funeral helps all of us to be ready for the end of this life and the beginnning of the next. A funeral is a worship service. It's a time for the gathered assembly to come into the presence of God and hear His Word of hope and peace. A funeral is also a time to remember. It's a time to remember and pay our respects to a friend or a loved one who has passed away. But, more than that, it's a time thank God for his goodness and grace. This morning, as I say, we consider the 57th Psalm. This morning, we consider the life of Arlene Hubick from the perspective of this particular Psalm. And I pray that God would bless the short time we spend in his Word this day.
Arlene Hubick was a caring person. She was a caregiver in her employment and with her family and friends as well. She worked hard. She kept things organized. She was a faithful curling fan. Her faith was of the quiet variety. She was baptized as an adult here at Mount Olive in January of 2010. At that time, her son Nathan joined this congregation as well. We see Nathan here on a regular basis as part of a crew that helps with church cleaning. Arlene had more than her share of health problems. She certainly had burdens to bear. But she was always more concerned about others than she was with herself. She did well managing the blessings bestowed on her by the Lord. And now he has called her home.
Psalm 57 reminds us that the Christian God is a God of mercy. Christian people pray to him and express their needs to him. They express praise and thanksgiving to him as well. The God of the Holy Scriptures is a gracious God. He doesn't treat us as our sins deserve. He deals with us according to his love and grace. Through His Son's death on the cross, and Jesus' resurrection from the dead, God offers forgiveness to the world, even though that forgiveness is not deserved. That forgiveness cannot be earned. The God of the Christian faith seeks to restore humanity's broken relationship with Himself. That's why He sent His Son that first Christmas. And once that broken relationship is restored, God seeks to maintain it. God wants all people to enjoy an abundant life in the here and now. He wants all people to seek his kingdom, and his righteousness, and when they do that, he promises that all the other things they need in life will be provided for them.
God is a God of mercy. In Him, as the Psalm‑writer says, His people find refuge. God is like the mother bird who protects her little ones under her wings. God protects His children under his wing, until the disaster has passed. In this life, we are threatened by many things that seek to destroy us. But God protects His dear children. Psalm 57 reminds us that we are threatened by forces that can attack suddenly, forces that seek to destroy us. The Psalm compares these things to nets that lie hidden. Life sometimes sends things that can catch us, trip us up, and rob us of our freedom. But God is there for us. And nothing, we are told, can separate us from His love. Should we fall, God is there to stoop down and rescue us.
According to the Psalm‑writer, life's dangers cause stress in our lives. They cause us to be weighed down by all kinds of burdens. Arlene Hubick experienced more than her share of trouble in her lifetime. There were forces that tried to destroy her. There were spears and arrows headed her way. Nets were sometimes hidden in her path. There were pits to fall into. Many times, she felt burdened by the weight of it all. Arlene knew life's stresses and strains. But she also knew the Lord, and that made all the difference for her. When I last saw Arlene here at Mount Olive, I didn't know that I would be doing her funeral. She didn't know it either. But she was ready for whatever might come her way. Because of her faith in the Lord Jesus, she had her spiritual bags packed, and her tickets for heaven were ready.
Psalm 57 says that God provides refuge for his people. It says that God rescues His people from destruction. In verse 3, the Psalm‑writer says that God "sends from heaven and saves me..." As Christmas has just come and gone, Christians around the worldd remember that God sent his Son from heaven. He sent his Son to be our Savior from the curse of sin. He sent his son to open the door of heaven for us and for all people everywhere.
Christians believe that God's Son ‑‑ Jesus Christ ‑- came to this earth and lived among us for a while. And while He was here, He taught God's will. He revealed spiritual truths. And now, because of Jesus' death on Good Friday ‑‑ and the resurrection that followed on Easter Sunday ‑‑ there is hope at a Christian funeral, just as there is hope for us here today. God has made a way for us. His Son is the Way, and the truth, and the life. Arlene Hubick knew Him. She knew the truth. And she received the life that lasts forever.
Psalm 57 relates very well to the life of Arlene Hubick. She knew God's mercy. She found refuge under his wings. God was Arlene's salvation ‑‑ through Christ. The Psalm‑writer speaks of the many things God does for his people. And he speaks about the response of God's people to these things. God's people exalt him! They praise him in word and deed. They live for him. They receive, and then manage, his many gifts. They seek to do his will. They praise him, even at a funeral, for his precious gift of eternal life.
Arlene Hubick attended worship services here at Mount Olive. She came here to ask God for his mercy. She came here to find protection under his wing. She held out the hand of faith and received His gift of salvation. In this place, Arlene sang songs of praise to the Lord. As the Psalm‑writer says, "Our hearts are steadfast ‑‑ because of him." Christians trust him ‑‑ as Arlene did ‑ despite life's troubles and burdens. His love graciously lifts His people out of the pit of despair. As we face life's challenges ‑‑ as Arlene did ‑‑ with God at our side, our faith grows stronger. As we face life's challenges and see what God has done for us, we learn to trust him even more. And as we overcome life's challenges with his help, our hearts overflow with praise.
It's true. Life is precious. And it can end at any time. The Christian God is a gracious God. He wants to go with us on life's journey. He wants to protect us and to bless us. He wants to be with us, now and into eternity. Arlene Hubick has passed from this life to the next. And she has taken her most important possession ‑ her faith - with her. May her faith be an example to us who remain. May her faith be an example to friends, and to family. May God bless us with a faith that enriches this life, and opens the door to the next. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.