Monday, June 13, 2011

Funeral Sermon for Irene Inman

The Rev. Paul J Cain
Psalm 27
She Has a Friend in Jesus
Friday of Easter III, 13 May 2011
Funeral Sermon for Irene Inman
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
1The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
This was Irene’s confirmation verse on April 2, 1939, Psalm 27:1. It was well-marked in her Bible. It was a life verse for her. Psalm 27 confesses the confidence of faith in good times and bad. She has a friend in Jesus.

770:3  Are we weak and heavy laden, Cumbered with a load of care? (sung)

Yes. Yes, we are. Psalm 27 continues into uncomfortable territory. Honestly, Irene loved verse one of this Psalm but struggled with much of the rest. I don’t blame her. As we hear the Psalm together, note the contrast between challenging circumstances and confident faith in Christ.
2When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.
3Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.
The bold text in your bulletin today for this Psalm is not the typical “half verse by half verse” or “whole verse by whole verse.” The bold text is the bold confidence of faith speaking. Yes, evil happens, but it will ultimately fail. We are weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care, but Christ calls us to Himself. He is the Resurrection and the Life! His yoke is easy and His burden is light. We live in the valley of the shadow, but the Lord Himself is our light and salvation! As you know, our Nebraska girl, Irene, was a very independent and self-sufficient person, except when it came to her salvation. Jesus was her 100% Savior.

Precious Savior, still our refuge—Take it to the Lord in prayer. (sung)

The Lord is our refuge and strength. We abide in Him and He abides in us in Word and Sacrament. And He nourishes us for our difficult journey through this life.
4One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.
Irene Inman died in Christ surrounded by Christians singing, praying, and reading Scripture. The way she died was much like the way she lived. She dwelt in the house of the Lord.
In recent years, she had to get up at 5 or 6 on a Sunday to be ready by 10:30. And then she was exhausted once she got home. Consider Irene’s priority.
Matha told me, “All these years, I thought I was bringing her. But she was bringing me.”
Sometimes Irene would convince the bus driver to go around the church block on a trip to the doctor or the hospital—just to feel close to her spiritual home. I pray this detail helps give you insight into her faith in Christ. He was her mighty fortress. He still is!
5For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.
Irene lived her faith in the midst of days of trouble. We don’t like the negative parts of life. Who does? Yet the Lord shows His strength in our weakness. The contrast between the hard and the happy (like in Psalm 27 and the hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”) help us to appreciate our gifts from the Lord, gifts like Irene was to us.
6And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.
When Irene couldn’t make it to Church because of her therapy and recuperation, Church went to her. She missed being personally in Bible Class, yet during pastoral visits she regularly heard God’s Word, the hymn of the week, heard a sermon (or a shortened version of a Bible Class she missed) and received Holy Communion. The Lord sought her in Christ. Her faith sought His face.
7Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
8You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
9Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
10For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the Lord will take me in.

Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer. (sung)

Prayer doesn’t have to be spoken aloud. It can be thought, sung, or said. I encouraged Irene to sing “Fight the Good Fight with All Your Might” as she did her stretches and activities.
Therapy can be a challenge for anyone. No one likes to be pushed, poked, and prodded. Irene knew she was stubborn. She admitted as much during several of our visits. She turned her stubbornness into a tremendous strength to persevere and meet the goals her therapists and doctors set for her.
Her goal at several points was a big one: to go home. And she reached her heavenly home on Mother’s Day. What a gift for Irene! Now she is reunited with all who died in Christ before her and awaits Resurrection Day.
Irene fed on Christ as she daily read Portals of Prayer and Meditations. The Lord taught her His way, and she did what she could to teach family and friends by word and example. As the banner says, “Radiate His Love—Tell His Story.”
11Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
12Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.
13I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!

In His arms He’ll take and shield thee; Thou wilt find a solace there. (sung)

Irene Inman had faith and hope in the Lord because of His love for her. She still has a friend in Jesus! She rests in peace, lives with Christ, and will be raised to life again.
Irene died in Christ surrounded by Christians—young and old—singing, praying, and reading Scripture. She is still surrounded by Christians, the whole heavenly host, as well as angels, archangels, and the Lord Himself. She would want you to be with her, but more importantly, she would want you to spend eternity with your Lord Jesus Christ, her Lord Jesus Christ.
He who died for the sins of the world died for you to take away your sin. That is the Good News, His Gift to you. He who died on Calvary on Good Friday and rose from the dead on Easter Sunday did so that when you die, you can be with Him and that on the Last Day, your body would be raised and glorified and be reunited with your soul that you may dwell in the house of the Lord forever, just like Irene Inman.
14Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

What a Friend We Have in Jesus                                                       LSB 770
1        What a friend we have in Jesus,
    All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
    Ev’rything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit;
    Oh, what needless pain we bear—
All because we do not carry
    Ev’rything to God in prayer!

2        Have we trials and temptations?
    Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
    Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our ev’ry weakness—
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.

3        Are we weak and heavy laden,
    Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
    Take it to the Lord in prayer.
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee;
    Thou wilt find a solace there.

Public domain