Funeral Sermon for Hilda Tourney / Wednesday May 8th 2013
Funeral Sermon for Hilda Franziska Tourney / Wednesday May 8th 2013 / Rev. Ted Giese / Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Regina, Saskatchewan.
“Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot [in life]. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil —this is the gift of God. For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.” (Ecclesiastes 5:18-20)
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, Hilda would tell me, "I had a good life." In the last year or so she talked about her life like this, she knew she couldn't keep on going like she was and it wasn't hard for her to see that an end was coming; she knew she was 96 years old and that eventually she would have to face death. But death wasn't all that frightening to her, in fact she often wondered aloud why she had lived so long, and why others, who were younger, had gone on ahead of her: her husband Emil; her daughter Ruth; three of her sisters, Frieda, Ella and Evelyn; three of her grown brothers, Rudy, Johnny and Erwin, and two more of her siblings in infancy. Hilda thought she should have gone to her rest in Christ earlier than some of these because she was older than most of them, but I’d assured her that God had a reason for her to live the life she had been living, for the length of time she’d been living it, that God had planned her days and given her work to do in them for her enjoyment and for the benefit of others.
King David in Psalm 139 speaks of the Lord, saying, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” From conception, to cradle, to casket, God knows your unfolding life and for 96 years, each and every day, God provided the gift of life and the gift of daily bread to Hilda and God provides these gifts to each of you whether you believe in Him or not, whether you have faith in Him or not. Hilda did have faith in Christ Jesus and He was, and is, the Rock of her Salvation, her refuge and her strength. She trusted that Jesus had her hid away in Him. In these last few years Hilda could no longer do much of the work she had enjoyed in life but God still had work for her to do: right up until the end she meditated daily on God’s word, reading her portals of prayer devotions and her Bible and praying.
This is the thing that people most struggle with today, contentment. There were times when people had next to nothing, and now people have all sorts of material blessings, but whether you have little or much makes no difference when it comes to contentment. People often fall into the trap of thinking that if they had more that they’d be content but this is not often the case. Whether Hilda had a farm under her feet or a small apartment made no difference to her because she was content in both places, her contentment was not found in things but in the One who gives them. Her contentment was not found in the work of her hands but in the One who gave her the work to do, in the first place. The passage from Ecclesiastes that I read at the start of this message is about contentment in life and King David’s Son, King Solomon, in his wisdom wrote this for us all ... God has provided a Saviour in His Son Christ Jesus and God provides all manner of other gifts along life’s way, we as recipients of these gifts are given the simple task of enjoying them; in our baptism, enjoying our salvation, trusting in the One who saves, trusting in Jesus; in our daily life, enjoying our food and our drink, enjoying the work we’ve been given to do: if a farmer, enjoy the farming; if a mother, enjoy the mothering, if a baker, enjoy the baking, you get the picture. We often forfeit our joy in life when we find fault with every gift we’re given and when we fail to thank God for what we have: when we fail to thank God for the life we’ve been given; when we’ve stopped bringing our prayers to God. Take heart there is forgiveness in Christ Jesus for all of this.
There is a simple way to embrace the gifts of God and to enjoy a life of contentment. It’s actually so simple that many people don’t take advantage of it. It is to regularly attended worship in God’s house, to follow the rhythm of the church, the big days like Christmas and Easter, the weekly gatherings on Sunday; to come and receive the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion, to hear His Word, to sing His praise, to hear the forgiveness of sins applied to you. Hilda loved this and in the end when she could no longer get out she desired it greatly and I was honoured to bring it to her when she could no longer bring herself to it. This rhythm of the life of the church in our lives gives us perspective. And with a perspective informed by the word of God contentment comes all the more easily; Appreciation for the blessings of life then naturally flow and the life we live moves from a series of hardships and trial into “the good life” that Hilda spoke of so warmly.
King Solomon says that in the end, we “will not much remember the days of [our] life because God keeps [us] occupied with joy in [our] heart.” What does he mean by this, when does this happen? Does it happen in our 96th year: Or in the last days of our earthly lives? Is this about a fading memory or a mind that’s faltered? Hilda’s mind was good, was very sharp, what could this mean? Here we have a promise of the future. When you come into your rest in Christ Jesus, you won’t be left to dwell on the days of your life, you won’t be left to fret over the past, or to quibble over the little things of life, for in your promised rest in Christ Jesus you will know nothing but joy and peace. As content as Hilda was in life she is even more content now, because she is at home with the Lord (He has come to take her to where He is). St Paul says that he “would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” Hilda now has this.
Hilda would tell me, "I had a good life." The truth is that Hilda most certainly "Has a good life in Christ Jesus." God is not the God of the dead but of the living. In the Gospel of St. John, chapter eleven, Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” In Christ Jesus Hilda’s life continues and God has more days for her to live, in fact she is now living her eternal life, her life without end: And on the last day, when all people will be raised to new life, she will be reunited with her body and her body will be transformed to be like Jesus’ glorious resurrected Body. Her contentment will be perfect, as He is perfect. She will have perfect joy as His joy is perfect. At the cross Jesus won this victory over death and now gives it to you as He gave it to Hilda. This is part of the daily bread God provides you: in your faith grow in this contentment as Hilda did, ever focusing on the nail pierced hands of the giver of the gift.
This gift of eternal life and all God’s gifts are yours (now and forevermore); enjoy them as Hilda did in her earthly life, and look with hope to enjoy them as Hilda does even now in her present rest. 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 Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Psalms 139:16
 Matthew 6:9-14
 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48 ESV)
 Psalm 62:7
 Large Catechism: Part III. The LORD’S Prayer, “Concordia, the Lutheran Confessions,” A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord, Pocket Edition 2006, Concordia Publishing House, pg. 582 .
 “Pray without ceasing,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 ESV).
 Ecclesiastes, Concordia Commentary, Concordia Publishing House 2011, James Bollhagen, pg 210.
 John 14:3
 2 Corinthians 5:8
 Luke 20:37-38
 John 11:25-26
 Philippians 3:20-21