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Funeral Sermon for Ruth Hanzlik July 9

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Funeral Sermon for Ruth Hanzlik  July 9, 2007 


James, Raymond, Jackie, Connie, dearest family and friends – Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus, the Christ.  Amen


I want begin by thanking you for sharing stories of Ruth’s life.  While I didn’t have the opportunity to know her in this kingdom, through the stories of her life I experienced glimpses of her life and I long to meet her in the next kingdom. 

An old story is told about:

John Quincy Adams – Friend walked up and slapped him on the back

“well, how’s John Quincy Adams this morning?”

“Fine, sir fine! But this old tenement that John Quincy lives in is not so good.  The underpinning is about to fall away.  The thatch is all gone off the roof, and the windows are so dim John Quincy can hardly see out anymore. As a matter of fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if before the winter’s over he had to move out.  But as for John Quincy Adams, he never was better . .  never better

As I heard of Ruth’s journey and health the past months – the image of a tent kept coming back to me.  Tents are an image that is used in the scripture – in fact St. Paul uses the image of our bodies as a tent in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians.

16 So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17 For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, 18 because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.

5 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens

Seminary – Janice – Wife & I were in MN – we used our little resources to camp & visit

        Tent camping allowed us to tour and experience everything

        The tent worked great – even kept us warm when it snowed memorial weekend.

        Until my senior year – on the temperance river – developed a leak

                I can think of few times so miserable

                Only time we left early

        That which had been a place of shelter and rest – was no longer a refuge.

        Tents by their very nature are temporary dwelling places.

        It was in a tent that Abraham lived as traveled – responding to God’s call

        It was in a tent that the arc of the covenant resided as it traveled to the P Land.

        Yet is remains a temporary dwelling  - Seminary chapel at Trinity – tent like

In the scriptures one of the images for our bodies is that of a tent.

        It is really designed to be the temporary dwelling place for our souls

As you shared the story of the past months I was struck.

        The infection was really the first assault on her tent

        Then came renal failure – the body that had served her was failing.

It had to have felt that things were coming apart at the seams, though you shared her peace in the midst of this.


While it would easy to gather this night and focus strictly on the life and stories of Ruth, that would leave a hole.

Our gathering this night is in the solid hope God offered Ruth in the waters of baptism when she was named, claimed and marked as a child of God!

I need to share my appreciation for the texts you chose for tonight.

We are reminded in Lamentations that our hope is in God’s steadfast Love.

Psalm 23 provides comfort by reminding us of who the Good Shepherd is for Ruth & US.

John reminds us of the resurrection inheritance. 

But 1 Peter – this epistle spells out for us God’s mercy – our hope – our living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It speaks not only to a life of faithfulness, but to the very real and appropriate grief at the loss of your wife, mom, grandmother, friend.

In the letter we are reminded that an inheritance has been prepared on other side.   This inheritance made possible by God’s very grace. 

God’s mercy means life beyond a body that is failing.

God’s mercy means our hope is not in technology or yet another treatment

Our hope is with the Lord

Our Hope is that death is not the victor – God through Christ Jesus has defeated death.

Our hope is in the salvation that God has prepared for Ruth – and for us.

I would like to end with a reading from Henri Nouwen

        A priest who left a posh position in academia to follow God’s call to serve in a community of mentally handicapped adults in Canada.

“How then, de we prepare ourselves for death?  By living each day in the full awareness of being children of God, whose love is stronger than death.  Speculations and concerns about the final days of our life are useless, but making each day into a celebration of our belovedness as sons and daughters of God will allow us to live our final days, whether short or long, as birthing days.  The pains of dying are labor pains.  Through them, we leave the womb of this world and are born to the fullness of children of God

We are challenged once again to look at our lives from above.  When, indeed, Jesus came to offer us full communion with God, by making us partakers of his death and resurrection, what else can we desire but to leave our mortal bodies and so each the final goal of our existence?  The only reason for staying in this valley of tears can be to cointiue the mission of Jesus who has sent us into the world as his Father sent him into the world.  Looking from above, life is a short, often painful mission, full of occasions to do fruitful work for God’s kingdom and death is the open door that leads into the hall of celebration where the king himself with serve us.

This day is a celebration of the life of Ruth

        A celebration also of the life given Gertrude through the cross.

May God’s promises, love and mercy grant you strength and a solid hope to meet the days ahead.



[1] The Holy Bible : New Revised Standard Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1989, S. 2 Co 4:16-5:1

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