One Story about my Aunt Helps Make This Clear
Many people say they “believe in” Jesus. Sadly, this is often faith with no foundation and no real understanding of true belief. My Aunt Vera believed in Jesus. However, her belief was not fuzzy. Her faith was trust and confidence for both life and for eternity. This was evident in a story Pastor Mark Gass shared at my Aunt Vera’s funeral worship service. He graciously sent the portion of his sermon where he shared a story of my aunt’s profound faith. I will let him tell the story….
Aunt Vera’s Move to Tomahawk
“It comes as no surprise to you that all the hymns in today’s worship service were chosen by Vera. She was a woman who knew many Christian hymns. It also should be no surprise that she also chose the Scripture lessons for today. She knew her Bible. This Word of God is the same Word that I used for my first sermon at this congregation 34 years ago. I can remember preaching the sermon. It wasn’t too long after that first Sunday that I went to visit Vera, Bill, and Berger. Upon entering their home on Germond Rd, Vera said to me, ‘Pastor, we know you are the pastor God wants for us. After we heard your sermon on Ephesians 3, you are the kind of pastor we have been praying for.’ For a young man just beginning his ministry, that was so very encouraging. They continued to encourage me in my ministry. During the first two years here, there were a number of struggles. I contemplated leaving the ministry. There were many problems and struggles. However, I can always remember Vera and Bill in worship. I knew where they sat, and I could hear them sing. Vera always reminded me she was praying for me.
After Bill and Berger died, Vera decided to move to Tomahawk. Basically, she wanted to be closer to church. We helped packer her up. 24 years ago, we moved her from Rhinelander to Tomahawk. She sold her place in Rhinelander and was scheduled to move to Tomahawk. However, she had not found a house. It was one week away, and I kept asking Vera, ‘Where are we moving you to?’ ‘Pastor,’ she replied, ‘I am looking, and I know the Lord will provide. I have been praying.’ The Thursday night before the week we were to move her, my wife and I were taking a walk around the block when we saw a for-sale sign. Vera came over on Friday. She signed papers on Saturday. Tuesday, we moved her in. The Lord answered prayer. It was a little too close for my comfort, but Vera was not shaken. She knew. Prayer is a powerful and effective blessing from our God.” – Pastor Gass
The Funeral Message
Then Pastor Gass shared the following, using Ephesians 3:14-21. This was the passage my aunt had hear him preach 34 years earlier. He said the following:
“What was unique about this Word of God for Vera? What makes it unique for us? I chose this Word of God 34 years ago as I began my ministry here at Redeemer. As the pastor of this congregation, it was my prayer that all of us would all of us would be strengthened so that through faith, Jesus would live in us more and more. It was also my prayer that we know more of the love of God. Paul emphasizes three points with this prayer:”
Ephesians 3:14-21 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Be Humble before God (3:14-15) For this reason I kneel before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the entire family in heaven and on earth receives its name.
Be Filled with God (3:17) so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
Be Mesmerized by God (3:20-21) Now to him, who is able, according to the power that is at work within us, to do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.
Three Images of Aunt Vera’s Life
It is time to wrap this one up. To do so I will share three images from the fifteen pages that made up the worship service for my Aunt Vera’s funeral. The first one reminds us she is safely home. The second one tells us of her life, which was not always easy. The final one is her statement of faith. As you read these, recognize real faith.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
2 Timothy 3:14-15 “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom[a] you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 2:14-15 “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,…”
LINK to Aunt Vera’s FUNERAL SERVICE
If you advance about 13 minutes and 45 seconds, you will see the beginning of the funeral service. The service was about one hour long.
All scripture passages are from the English Standard Version except as otherwise noted.