Funeral Sermon for Doreen Anderson

Sermon for Doreen Avonne Anderson funeral, based on Ps 23, Prov 22:6, Gal 6:6 & Jn 14:1-6 by Pastor Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson; Burgar Funeral Chapel, Camrose, AB, March 21, 2018, twelve o’clock.

Doreen Avonne Anderson has left this life behind and is no longer with you. All of you who knew and loved Doreen will miss her. Yet, as the psalmist reassures us, even though Doreen had to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, the LORD her Shepherd was with her, leading her through death, so that now all of her suffering is over.

For the last years of her life, Doreen was a resident in Spruce Cottage at Bethany Meadows. As her pastor there, I came to know Doreen as a quiet, soft-spoken person. She told me about her life as a teacher and, in her retirement years, how she enjoyed travelling, she also was an avid reader until her eyes were no longer able to focus. So with that in mind, I thought a couple of Bible passages were appropriate as we remember Doreen today and give thanks to God for her life.

The first passage is from Proverbs 22:6: “Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.” Or as the Good News Bible puts it: “Teach children how they should live, and they will remember it all their life.” What a privilege it was for Doreen to be a teacher for thirty-seven years and do exactly what this proverb describes! She taught the young children for over three decades and, I’m sure she made an impression on their lives—teaching them things that set them on the right track to succeed in their lives. Teaching them so that they could go on to live meaningful lives by making a difference in the world. Perhaps her teaching even inspired one or more children to become teachers like herself. In any case, I’m sure that all of those years of teaching had their rewards for Doreen, because she spoke to me about a couple of her students—one of whom I know, and today he is a well-respected teacher and scholar in the church, Rev. Dr. Gordon Jensen. What a privilege it is to be a teacher and set students on the right path, which they will remember all of their life!

Another passage from St Paul’s letter to the Galatians 6:6 also reminds me of Doreen, teaching and education: “Those who are taught the word must share in all good things with their teacher.” I would hope that after teaching for thirty-seven years at least a few of Doreen’s students shared the good things they learned from her. I would also hope that Doreen having been taught by other teachers in order to get her degree was able to share good things of what she learned from her teachers—teachers who inspired her and made a difference in her life.

Turning now to John’s Gospel, which is a favourite passage of the Anderson family, we are given another reason to place our trust and hope in God. Jesus speaks to us, saying: “Let not your hearts be troubled,” or, as the Good News Bible puts it: “Do not be worried and upset.” He goes on to say: “Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.” What wonderful words of promise and hope Jesus speaks here!

This picture of “my Father’s house,” as Jesus describes it here gives us the sense that there is plenty of room for us there to enjoy—a location where there are “many dwelling places.” In the old King James Version of this passage, it is translated “many mansions.” It’s rather interesting that Jesus speaks of heaven in this way as a place where there is plenty of room for us—since in the Hebrew language of the Old Testament, the word for salvation actually literally means: to be open wide, to be unconfined, to be free. The word in Hebrew is yasha, which interestingly enough is closely related to Jeshua or Joshua, which is the Hebrew for our English name, Jesus, meaning “God saves.” You can find comfort and peace if you trust and hope in this Jesus who is one with God and saves. Jesus is our way, truth and life through placing all of our trust in him and following him, we are given the gift of eternal life.

As I mentioned earlier, one of the other things Doreen enjoyed talking with me about was her travels. She was blessed to be able to travel to several places, including: New Zealand and Australia, Europe, several of the United States, and down to Eastern Canada. However, as much as we travel in this world, it is always good to arrive back home. As the old adage goes: “There’s no place like home.” Now Doreen has gone on her final journey, and she has reached her final home—that dwelling place, that room, that mansion in her permanent heavenly home to be with Jesus and those whom she loved who are already there.

So, let us all place our trust, our hope, our lives into the hands of this God who is our Loving Shepherd; whose love is completely and always dependable; who is the greatest, most inspiring Teacher of them all; who is our loving Saviour providing us an eternal home with lots of room; and a place where we shall dwell in perfect freedom; living under the power of his love. Amen.

 

 

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Sermon 3 Lent Yr B

Read my sermon for March 4, 2018 here: 3 Lent Yr B

Sermon 19 Pentecost Yr A

Read my sermon for October 15, 2017 here: 19 Pentecost Yr A

Sermon 9 Pentecost Yr A

Read my sermon for August 6, 2017 here: 9 Pentecost Yr A

Sermon 8 Pentecost Yr A

Read my sermon for July 30, 2017 here: 8 Pentecost Yr A

A Brief Graveside Sermon for Bryan Braim

A Brief Graveside Sermon for Bryan Ross Braim, based on Job 19:25-27; Rom 14:7-8 & Jn 11:25-26; by Pastor Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson; April 29, 2017, eleven o’clock.

A husband, dad, granddad, friend, neighbour, and member of God’s family, Bryan Ross Braim, has left this life and is no longer with us. You will miss him for sure, as will all of us at Bethany Meadows. In times like this, we turn to the Word of the LORD for comfort and strength, healing and hope.

Our first reading from the Book of Job is quite appropriate for this season of Easter, reminding us that, even though Job faced many sufferings and losses, including his family members, property, and ill-health, he still refused to lose hope in God. In these verses, he looks forward to God the Redeemer who is the God of life, and after death, the resurrection of the body. As a person of faith, we trust that Bryan, like Job, looked forward to a hopeful future, when God would heal him of his ill-health, and raise him to life eternal.

As we remember Bryan and his life, we are also encouraged by the words of the apostle Paul in our passage from Romans. Bryan, as the apostle Paul says, did not live to himself, nor did he die to himself. Rather, he lived and died to the Lord Jesus. He did this; I’m told, by thinking of others putting them first before himself, with a kind heart and a life for serving the needs of others.

I appreciated Bryan’s very supportive attitude toward me and my work as the chaplain at Bethany Meadows. Bryan, when he was able to, enjoyed attending all of the pastoral care activities and events at Bethany Meadows. He would often tell me that he appreciated the sermons, and thanked me for the Bible studies. On one occasion I recall he was so enthusiastic about the Bible Study that he even tried to recruit staff members to attend. As the caring, kind-hearted person that he was, sometimes he would express concern that I might be working too hard. Bryan’s expression of concern for me was a moving example of his compassion for others. I’m told that he was also supportive and kind-hearted to all of his pastors where he attended church.

As a person of faith then, it is with hope and confidence that we entrust Bryan to Jesus, who speaks those words of comfort and hope in our passage from the Gospel of John: “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”

My prayer for each one of you is that you will take these words of Jesus to heart, believe them, trust them, and move into the future with comfort and strength, healing and hope. As the resurrection and the life, Christ has conquered the powers of sin, death and evil. As his followers, we too, including Bryan, shall share in his Easter victory, and one day a resurrection like his, and life with a capital L-life eternal. Amen.

 

 

Sermon Easter Day Year A

Read my sermon for April 16, 2017 here: Easter Day Yr A