Brief graveside sermon for Jean Velma Braim, by Pastor Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson, based on Isa 40:31 & Jn 14:1-6, on November 3, 2018, Camrose Cemetery.
As I mentioned earlier, one of Jean’s favourite Bible passages was Isaiah 40:31. What a beautiful passage this is too! The prophet who wrote it was living in Babylonian exile along with his people. The people of Judah and Jerusalem living in that strange land were likely rather discouraged and feeling weak, weary and faint. In that situation, God inspired the prophet to speak these words of encouragement and hope.
Notice that the prophet starts off saying: “Those who wait for the LORD.” Much of life involves waiting. Jean had to do her share of waiting too. She had to wait for all of the blessings that the LORD gave her—blessings such as a loving husband in Bryan, all six of you children, eighteen grandchildren, and forty great grandchildren. Jean had to wait on the LORD throughout her life in various circumstances, good times and more challenging times, times during the last days of her life when she had grown weak, faint and weary. Such times are difficult, yet Jean waited for the LORD then too, because she knew that he would come and bless her. He would come and take her to himself in heaven. Now her waiting is over.
Throughout Jean’s life she waited on the LORD for compassion to love her husband, and you her family members. She waited on the LORD in order that she could be a person of faith. Jean was faithful to her husband, and you her family members. Her focus in life was on servanthood. She served you and others in the community. She served by putting her gifts of sewing, gardening and crafts to work. She served by being involved in the United Church Women’s group. She served along with Bryan to deliver Meals on Wheels for shut-ins. She served as a volunteer in the hospital. She served as a caregiver for her siblings when they were sick by sitting with them. Jean, by waiting on the LORD found that he renewed her strength, as if she were mounting on eagle’s wings. She waited for the LORD’s strength during times when she was weak, weary and faint. In so doing, she set a fine example of faithfulness and compassion for each of you too. You and I, all of us here today, need to follow that example—to wait on the LORD for strength in all the circumstances that we encounter as we journey through life.
One of the most beautiful word pictures that the prophet gives us in this passage is that of the wings of eagles. Have you ever seen an eagle with its wings spread out in flight? Recently I was blessed to see a beautiful eagle flying right above me with its outstretched wings. Wow! It took my breath away when I observed how powerful and graceful those wings were as they caught the air currents in flight.
So the wings of eagles are a beautiful symbol of God’s power, God’s protection, and just as the eagle is free when it flies so gracefully, we too are set free by our God through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ—which brings us to the Good News from John’s Gospel.
The words of Jesus are also wonderful words of life! His words bring us comfort and hope in times of sadness. The comfort and hope that Jesus has gone ahead of us into heaven to prepare a dwelling place for us. He will come again to take us to our eternal dwelling place.
Jean is now in that dwelling place, my guess is that she may very well be singing there too. One of Jean’s favourite things to do at Bethany Meadows was to participate in my cottage Hymn-Sings. She just loved them! Jean found much joy and comfort in music throughout her life. In her early years, she and her sister made a 45 record. She also played the guitar and sang in choirs. Music is also one of God’s gifts. Now I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if she is singing away in the heavenly choir!