Funeral Sermon, Ella Anderson / Wednesday March 28th 2018
Funeral Sermon for Ella Anderson / Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Wednesday March 28th 2018: Lent / 1 John 4:7-11, 16b "Jesus Loves You."
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another … God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in Him.
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 Ella Anderson. A good Scripture passage to remember on a day like today is this one found in the Book of Hebrews, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”
During the planning of this Service today the family gave me two simple sheets of paper, copies of a typewritten outline from the funeral of Ella’s father Reinhold Rinas. He was a man who instilled in his family a deep appreciation of the faith entrusted to them by the Holy Spirit in their baptism. Some of you will remember him, but some of you - the younger ones - will not, he fought his good fight, he received his crown of glory before you were born; he finished the race of faith in this life before you even began running it.
Ella looked up to her father and was thankful for him, thankful for his courage to leave Russia and come to Canada not knowing what the future would bring but trusting in God the Father and in Christ Jesus His Son every step of the way. Reinhold encouraged her in Her Christian faith and she imitated his Christian faith in her life. You would be well served in your Christian faith to do the same, to stop and think on what mattered most to Ella as she fought her good fight, as she ran her race, as she came to the finish line of that race and received the promised crown of glory and her promised entry into the Eternal Rest won for her by Christ Jesus on that first Good Friday so many years ago.
“Consider the outcome of their way of life,”
Think on Ella’s love for you, her love for others, her service to family and friends and community, her faithfulness to her church and her brothers and sisters in the faith here in this place who knew her and loved her. And what then was the outcome of this way of life? When you look back on it you can clearly see that she lived a full and love filled life, even in her troubles she had Christian joy and peace, a deeper joy and peace than the World gives. The kind of peace that was with Ella right to her blessed end, what does Jesus say, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” She had this gift of peace from Jesus and in her last days Ella would often say that she was not afraid, she had nothing to fear, she waited on Christ Jesus who promised to come to her and to take her to Himself so that, as He puts it, He would come again so, “that where [He is, she] will be also,” a promise from the lips of Jesus to Ella a promise from the lips of Jesus to you.
Ella, therefore, looked forward to her happy reunion with her sister Lilli, with her husband Rudy, and with her father Reinhold and the rest of her family and friends who had fought the good fight, who had finished the race of faith before her. She looked forward to the resurrection of the dead and the new heavens and the new earth where she would sit upon her heavenly horse … or maybe even her heavenly motorcycle … and firmly seated on that saddle, healthy hands strongly gripping the reins, feet safely in the stirrups ride on to enjoy eternal life without sin, without death, without temptation, without physical ailments; an Eternal Life of perfect love in Christ Jesus with those she loves, with you once you arrive there too.
Our epistle lesson from 1 John came to mind for me as Ella was in hospital this one last time. She had been in before, she had been given extra time on this side of life following her “brain bleed” and she knew it. More and more she talked of love, through her life phone calls ended with “I love you” and Ella was not afraid to tell you that she loved you. After her stroke she more and more spoke of her love for you, for me, for us. In the end she would simply say “I love, I love.” This is why this passage from 1 John came to mind, Saint John says, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” When Ella said to you “I love you” she was both expressing her love for you and her love and knowledge of God the Father, her faith given by the Holy Spirit and her trust in Christ Jesus her rock and her redeemer.
The love Ella showed to you, with every bowl of soup she gave you, with every smile, with every day she shared with you was a reflection of the love she first received from God. Ella led you by this example; she led you likewise by an example of faithful church attendance, of faithful reading of Scripture, of her portal of prayers devotions, of faithful reception of Holy Communion, of faithful care and concern for your wellbeing, and faithful service to you in your needs as she was able to help. Consider this and imitate it. But remember this is a like an iron chain, and you are a link in it, she was a link in it, her father Reinhold and others in the family who lived their lives in this Christian faith are links in this chain, but these links don’t start and end with Ella or with them, or even with you … they start and end with Christ Jesus. Jesus is The Link in the chain of faith that holds us all together, with His bloody sweat and passion, with His love poured out for us in His blood and forged in His perfect innocent body given in death for you: He gives this iron chain of Christian faith its strength to endure all things, to endure even death in this life. This is why Saint John says, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [The Satisfaction] for our sins.”
Ella took serious St. John’s words when he wrote, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” The love you received from her, you received in Christ Jesus and because of Christ Jesus. That love is and was and ever shall be Christ Jesus Himself for you, as St. John says, “God is love.” … “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” Ella knows God, in her baptism she was born of God, just as you were born of God in yours. Yes there is sadness and there is grief today, but there is also love. Scripture tells us that in this life, in the face of death and illness and trouble that we may indeed “see [everything as though we look at it all] in a mirror dimly, but then [once Christ has come to us in our final hour and taken us to Himself as He promises, on That Day we like Ella will no longer see Christ as in a mirror dimly, on That Day we like her will see Him] face to face. Now [we] know in part; then [we like Ella and Reinhold and all the faithful] shall know fully, even as [we by God] have been fully known.” “So [Holy Scripture says,] now [in these days as we live out our lives in Christ Jesus] faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
As you look at Ella’s life, as you think on those who have gone ahead in the Christian Faith the Holy Spirit today sets your eyes on Christ Jesus the author and perfector of Ella’s faith, of your faith, look to Him, and remember Jesus Christ, who in Scripture speaks to you the Word of God, who is the very Word of God. Consider the outcome of His way of life, His death, His resurrection, His ascension, His promised second coming on The Last Day and imitate His faith, His love, seeking forgiveness where you fail, just as Ella did as she fought the good fight, as she kept the faith, as she ran the race. Keep your eyes on Jesus; keep your eyes on His love; keep your eyes on His forgiveness just as Ella did every step of the way while she ran. In this life we stumble and fall as we fight and run but Christ is with you along the straight and narrow way to lift you up, He is likewise standing at the finish line holding in His hand the Crown of Glory the final gift of Eternal Life in Him. Keep fighting; keep keeping; keep running. Ella loves you but more importantly Jesus loves you. Love one another. God is love. 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.
 Hebrews 13:7
 2 Timothy 4:6-8
 John 14:27
 Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:13
 Psalm 19:14
 1 Corinthians 13:12–13