Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Funeral message for Eunice Berkvens

Earlier this evening, I had the privilege of officiating at Eunice Bervens funeral before a few select family members due to Covid restrictions. I know that many of her friends from Gateway Church would have loved to have been there, and so I'm sharing the funeral message that I felt God gave me to celebrate the life of this precious daughter of God...

I’m really grateful to have the opportunity to share something at Eunice’s funeral service today. Thank you Brett for the invitation to share this time with you as a family. I feel honoured to be here.

I can’t actually remember the first time I met Eunice, but as a pastor at the church she attended for at least ten years, I was able to get to know Eunice over the years. I know you as a family obviously know her far better than me, but in the time I knew her, I grew very fond of Eunice. There were many people at Gateway Church who loved Eunice. If it weren’t for the Covid-restrictions on the number of people who could be here, I know that many from Gateway would have wanted to attend today.

We all knew that Eunice wasn’t perfect – some Sundays when she came to church, she could be in a very grumpy mood, and didn’t try to hide it. But most Sundays, we knew Eunice to be a very sweet and soft-hearted lady.

I’ll never forget how she used to go up to people she knew, and open her arms up as if to invite a hug, and say with a happy grin, “I love you!” and then given them a big hug! I was on the receiving end of many of those hugs. But Eunice didn’t just come for the hugs – she came to church to worship Jesus – who she loved most of all! At Gateway, our worship times go for about 20-25 minutes of singing, and Eunice loved those times! She would sing with her arms stretched as high as she could reach, her hands open to heaven, and her eyes clenched shut as she sang. The way she worshiped as we sang songs to Jesus made it obvious that Eunice truly loved Jesus.

But as I said, not every Sunday was like that – sometimes Eunice came to church looking like she’d had a very hard week. I don’t actually know a great deal about what happened in Eunice’s life between Sundays, but it was clear from my occasional conversations with her that her life had been hard, and still was hard. Sometimes she just looked tired, or hurting, or upset, or sad. But she still came to church, because she really loved Jesus. And Jesus also really loves Eunice.

With that in mind, I’d like to read a very short story in the Bible that feels appropriate for this occasion. It’s a short story about a woman who also probably sometimes came to the “church” of those days feeling tired, or hurting, or upset, or sad. But she still kept coming. Let me read it to you. 

"One Sabbath day as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, he saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, 'Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!' Then he touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!" (Luke 13:10-13)

Can you picture that woman, doubled over, unable to stand, and probably found it difficult to walk? But there she was in God’s house. It would’ve probably been easy for her to think, “Why should I go to church? What’s God done for me lately? Look at me – doubled-over, unable to stand – and God has ignored me for 18 long years!” But she must not have thought that, because after 18 years, there she was in church on the Sabbath Day. And after 18 long years, Jesus met her there and healed her.

Now I need to say that God’s timing of when and how he helps us with the troubles we face is a mystery, and He expects us to trust Him when He takes longer than we’d like. And Eunice expressed her trust in God by continuing to come to church for many years, even in the midst of her troubles. And she expressed her love for God by enthusiastically worshiping Him for many years, despite the feelings she struggled with.

Did Jesus eventually show up and heal her of kidney failure, like he healed the woman in this story? No, but it was Jesus who eventually showed up and called Eunice home! You see, I hope you can be encouraged today that Eunice herself is still alive with Jesus in heaven. Her body has failed, but Eunice’s spirit is alive and she is in a place of great peace and joy!

Do you want to know how the Bible describes where Eunice will now be forever?

“Then I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:3-5)

And the truth is, the soul in each one of us will need a home after life on this earth is over, and every one of us can spend eternity with Jesus in the place I just read about. But the only way to be admitted there is to accept who Jesus is, what Jesus did for us when He lived on this earth, and to give our lives to Jesus.

As to who Jesus is, He is God’s Son, and has been for eternity past! As to what Jesus did for us, He came to earth as a man (while still remaining God’s Son), lived a perfect life, and then died to pay the penalty for humanity’s rebellion against God. Our rebellion is expressed by how we try to live life without God. And those who rebel against God deserve to die and spend eternity separated from God. But God is also a Father – a Perfect Father – and doesn’t want to be separated from us for eternity. So God’s Perfect Son was willing to die to pay the penalty we deserve so that we could be forgiven and spend eternity with Him! That means that even though we feel very undeserving of such a gift, it’s possible because it’s not based on anything we’ve done, but on what Jesus has done for us so that we can be forgiven!

Eunice believed this, and even though we all know Eunice wasn’t perfect, I can say with confidence that she is forgiven – and has been welcomed into eternal life with Jesus. And you can be too. It can all start with a simple prayer that expresses our acceptance of who Jesus is, and of what Jesus did for us when He died on the cross for us, and our desire to give our lives to live for Jesus (however imperfectly).

Eunice prayed such a prayer, and as we remember and honour Eunice’s life here today, I invite you to pray such a prayer with me in your heart as I pray it now…

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Amen, She is at peace and well with Jesus.