Thursday, May 6, 2010

Funeral Sermon for Fred Stuber

Funeral Sermon for Frederick Stuber
Based on Ps. 23, Rom 8:31-39 & Matt 7:12 By Pastor Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson,
Chaplain, South Ridge Village, Good Samaritan Society, Medicine Hat, AB May 6, 2010

A loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, a dear friend, and kind neighbour, Frederick Stuber, is no longer with us. Those who loved and knew Fred shall certainly miss him. Fred will continue to be loved and remembered for his friendliness and kind qualities.

Fred had a big heart, loved conversation and coffee row. Because of his friendliness and kindness; he knew everyone and everyone knew him. He always enjoyed being with his friends and family. His grandchildren and great grandchildren had a special place in his heart. At times he loved to tease. Those who shared Fred’s companionship shall surely miss him. If he were able, I’m certain Fred would say thank you to his family and friends, the staff at South Ridge who came to know, love and care for him; and, he would also express his deepest gratitude to his loving wife Joan, who faithfully provided for his needs and was with him every day.

In Psalm 23, we are given a beautiful picture of a God who is like a loving, caring shepherd. A God who is always with us, providing for our needs, and protecting us from danger and harm. A God who walks with us even in our most trying and difficult times. A God who walks with us even to the end, to lead us through the door of death, into life everlasting.

As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are here to embrace Fred’s family as they mourn his death. We are also here with them today to listen to the Good News of Scripture. During times like this, we can be overwhelmed by our emotions, it is important to hear the words of faith, words which keep us on track through the good and difficult times of life. The apostle Paul’s words from Romans assure us that there is nothing—not hardships, nor poverty, nor danger, nor disease, nor illness, nor the unknown, nor death itself—nothing in all creation can sever our relationship with God in Christ. Nothing can separate us from God’s love, and that’s the Greatest News we could possibly ever hear!

We can depend on God’s love, which constantly surrounds us; creating the bedrock of our faith. What a wonder it is and how beautiful it was demonstrated in Fred’s life. Christ’s love strengthened him, empowered him, even as he became increasingly ill. And it is comforting to know that, should you and I be stricken with illness or disease as Fred was, we will not be separated from the love of God in Jesus our Lord and Saviour.

We have experienced God’s love here together today as it surrounds us and flows through us. God’s love will also accompany us as we go from here to begin our daily routines. The LORD promises to go from here with us; encouraging us through loved ones and friends. His Holy Spirit ministers to us—providing us with strength, comfort, and hope day-by-day. God’s grace gives us a solid foundation for the living out of all our days, regardless of what happens. Christ’s healing and resurrection presence embraces us; so we can look forward to the future. Whatever the future holds for you and I—God’s love will be there to lean on, rest in, and grow stronger. Nothing in all of creation—not even death can separate us from the love of God thanks to Jesus our Lord and Saviour’s victory over sin, evil and death through his suffering on the cross and his resurrection. Jesus rules! We who believe in Jesus and the winning power of his resurrection shall, when we die, share in a resurrection like his. That is something wonderful to look forward in hope for!

Fred was a man of deep faith in Jesus, and for that we thank the LORD. One of the deepest values and beliefs of Fred, which he practiced in his life, is the central message of Christian faith—namely, to love, care for, and be kind to one another. Psalm 23 certainly provides us with an excellent example of God’s love and care for us, and God’s kindness toward us.

Jesus, in Matthew’s Gospel, chapter seven, verse twelve, teaches us the true meaning of kindness, which is often referred to as the Golden Rule: “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” Fred strived to live up to this teaching of Jesus by looking for the good in everyone. That is certainly something all of you can strive to do, as you remember Fred and are inspired by this way of looking at and treating others. By doing to others as you would have them do to you, you love your neighbour as yourself. A wise person once said that God is as close as our neighbour. Therefore, to love and care for our neighbour is indeed to love God. Fred demonstrated his love by his love and kindness to his wife, children and grandchildren; and by his many kindnesses and friendliness in the community. I know I witnessed Fred’s kindness and friendliness to others at South Ridge Village. While he was still able to walk; I remember how he would enjoy walking in our building in order to mingle with others and greet them. Later, when he was confined to the wheelchair, Fred would still enjoy peoples’ company and give them a big smile, shake their hand, and his eyes would light up.

And so, we can give our thanks to God our Good Shepherd, God our loving Father, and Jesus his Son, who provides us with all that we need in this life and the next. We can give thanks to God for the life of Fred. God who has called Fred to a better place, where peace, joy, and love have no ending. God who offers you here today his comfort, kindness and love, and provides for all of your needs now and in the future. God who, one day, shall call us all to that better place, to dwell with him and our loved ones forever. Until then may our prayer be:

O God our help in ages past, Our hope for years to come, Our shelter from the stormy blast, Still be our guard while troubles last And our eternal home! (Lutheran Book of Worship #320, Isaac Watts) Amen.

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