Funeral Sermon for Bertha Gurke

Funeral Sermon for Bertha Gurke, based on Ps 23, Heb 10:19-25 & Jn 14:1-6 by Rev. Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson

A mother, grandmother, friend, neighbour, resident of South Ridge Village, and sister in Christ, Bertha Gurke, has left this life for her eternal home in heaven. Today we remember Bertha, give thanks to God for her life, and commend her into the LORD’s loving hands.

The last few years have not always been easy for Bertha—having to live and cope with all of her health problems. Nor has it been easy for you, the family members either; with most of you living out of province. Yet, the LORD was there for Bertha during these past few years, just as he was throughout her lifetime. You see, Bertha was a woman with a strong faith in her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Bertha knew and trusted that because the LORD was her Shepherd she had everything she needed.

Bertha’s strong faith in the LORD her Shepherd certainly inspired me as her pastor and, I’m sure many others too. Her close relationship with the LORD her Shepherd reminds me of this beautiful story. The Lord is my shepherd…” A famous actor was once the guest of honor at a social gathering where he received many requests to recite favorite excerpts from various literary works. An old preacher who happened to be there asked the actor to recite the twenty-third Psalm. The actor agreed on the condition that the preacher would also recite it. The actor’s recitation was beautifully intoned with great dramatic emphasis for which he received lengthy applause. The preacher’s voice was rough and broken from many years of preaching, and his diction was anything but polished. But when he finished there was not a dry eye in the room. When someone asked the actor what made the difference, he replied, “I know the psalm, but he knows the Shepherd.”1 Bertha knew the Shepherd; I am certain of that—and what a precious gift that is! Bertha knew the LORD was her Shepherd and now she knows the reality of our Psalm’s last verse: “I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

For Bertha, her home was important. On occasion, when I called on her, she would point to the picture of her home where she lived in Maple Creek. I think she was proud of that home, and enjoyed it very much. Looking at the picture, her home certainly had some unique qualities and character. In that home, Bertha raised you her children, and she also welcomed others, so they could feel at home there.

Bertha knew the LORD her Shepherd and she wanted you, her loved ones to know him too. She wanted to dwell in the LORD’s house forever. So Bertha was faithful. During her seven years with us at South Ridge Village, she faithfully attended the Sunday afternoon Worship Services and Wednesday morning Bible Studies. In fact, oftentimes she was the first resident to show up at the Worship Services and Bible Studies. She wanted to be there and she committed herself to be there to worship the LORD her Shepherd and study his Word. Bertha told me that she so looked forward to them, and they were a highlight of her week. Bertha was also a friendly neighbour to Irene—bringing Irene along with her.

Yes, Bertha was a faithful follower of Jesus; and I am sure that her hope and prayer was that you, her loved ones, also be faithful followers of Jesus; that you too attend Worship Services on a regular basis to grow closer to Christ and be at home with him. As I think of Bertha and her faithfulness I’m reminded of these words from Hebrews 10:24-25: “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” For Bertha, a home was important; therefore she attended Worship and Bible Studies to help her be close to Jesus and at home with him. She was a faithful role model for you and others—encouraging them to worship the LORD on a regular basis so that you too can be close to Jesus and at home with him. By faithfully attending Worship and Bible Studies, Bertha grew in her faith in the LORD her Shepherd and received the encouragement of other faithful Christians. Yes, for Bertha a home was important and she wanted, more than anything else, to be at home with her LORD the Good Shepherd.

In our Gospel, Jesus speaks words of encouragement and promise regarding an eternal home, saying: “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.” And he goes on to say that there is nothing more that he wants for us than we be at home there with him; he wants nothing more for us than to fulfill this promise: “I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.”

You see, as comfortable and friendly and loving as any home can be in this world—nothing, not even the best home on earth can compare with what we have to look forward to in heaven, our eternal home. On earth there are no perfect homes. We gather our loved ones around us and think we can be permanently happy. However, death comes to rob us of our loved ones. Or one of those near and dear to us decides to move far away from us. Our earthly homes are in a state of flux and being broken up. Not so with God’s heavenly home. Our eternal home in heaven is permanent and there death shall no longer rob us of loved ones—nor shall loved ones move far away from us. In heaven there are no broken homes. We shall all be celebrating a wonderful family reunion. The greatest celebration shall be to have the holy privilege of living forever in the presence of God our heavenly Father and Jesus our Good Shepherd who is also known as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Yes, one day you and I shall be in that eternal home; the place of joy and love unending. On that day we shall meet up with Bertha and all of our loved ones again; we shall be with the LORD every day. Jesus promises this to you, me, and everyone who believes that he is “the way, and the truth, and the life.” My hope and prayer, and I’m sure Bertha’s hope and prayer was and is that you do believe Jesus to be the way, the truth and the life. Amen.

1 Bible Illustrator for Windows, diskette, (Hiawatha, IO: Parsons Technologies, 1994).

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About dimlamp
I am, among other things, a sojourner, a sinner-saint, a baptized, life-long learner and follower of Jesus, and Lutheran pastor. Dim Lamp: dimlamp.wordpress.com gwh photos: gwhphotos.wordpress.com

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