Saturday, December 3, 2011

Homily for the Christian Funeral of Anna Hohmann 6/29/1909–11/22/2011


John 14:1-6; 1 Peter 1:3-9; Job 14:1-17

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

If you wish to hear a sound perspective on life, read Job. You know his story, how Job was a righteous man who feared the Lord, how the Lord blessed him richly with family and wealth. But then, Satan accused Job before the Lord saying that he only feared God because God blessed him so richly and that, if Job’s blessings were taken away from him, he would curse God. So, God permitted Satan to afflict Job sorely. He took his wealth. He took his family. And, finally, he afflicted Job’s own body with horrible sores and disease that caused him to be cut off from all others and all manner of living.

Affliction like that of Job’s has a way of causing a man to take stock of his life. A man will ask questions like: What is the cause and purpose of suffering? What is the meaning of life? What kind of God causes or permits pain, suffering, and death? Job asked all those questions and more. Likely you have asked a few of them yourself. However, though he asked such questions, and though he struggled with doubt and uncertainty, Job continued to trust in the Lord God and he would not curse Him and die. But, in the face of all his afflictions, Job gained perspective on his life. He remembered that he was brought into this world and life apart from his choosing. He was born to his particular mother and father apart from his choosing. He had the number of sons and daughters that the Lord permitted him to have, and they were taken from him apart from his will. Indeed, he himself was met with physical afflictions and disease, having no control over his situation. And, finally, he died as the Lord had appointed, and was powerless to extend his own life. Thus Job confessed that a man’s days are determined by God, that the number of his months is known only to God, and that the appointed time of his death is established by God. Why is it that a man may live to be a hundred years old and another may not make it out of his thirties? Only God knows. However, what we share in common is that the number of our years is determined by God alone, apart from our control. But what we do have some control over is what we do with our days, months, and years while we have them.

Job recognized everything that he had, even his own life, as a gift and blessing from God. When it was all taken away from him, Job would not curse God, but he said, “The Lord has given, the Lord has taken away; blessed be the Name of the Lord.” There is a certain peace and comfort, even confidence that comes from confessing that you are not in control of the totality of your life, but that God is in control, and that He works all things, even the bad things, for your good and for the good of those He has called in Jesus Christ. That peace, comfort, and confidence comes, ironically, by death – that is, it comes by dying to yourself and living to Christ. “For whoever would save his life will lose it,” says Jesus, “but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” Indeed, Job’s peace, comfort, and confidence did not come from himself, but it came from his fear, love, and trust in God and in His promise to send a savior, a redeemer for Job and for all men. “I know that my Redeemer lives,” Job confessed, “and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!”

It is those who die to themselves that God is able to raise up to new life now. Those who believe, who put their fear, love, and trust in the Lord and not in men, themselves, and the things of this world, are born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” For the faithful, Christ’s death on the cross and His glorious resurrection stand outside of ourselves as a sure, certain, and unchanging guarantee of our victory over death and the grave, our forgiveness and redemption, and life with Jesus after death. Kind of changes the way you view your life in this world, doesn’t it? Gives you a new perspective, doesn’t it?

Anna Hohmann shared this perspective on her long and blessed life. She recognized that everything she had, even her own life, was a gift and blessing from God. She was born during the Great Depression and learned to live simply and with frugality. She worked as a secretary for many years in New York City and, later, as church secretary right here at Christ the King under Pastor Arthur Gronbach. Ann never complained. She was at peace and content, comfortable, and confident that the Lord was in charge of her life. Whatever she had, it was enough. The things she didn’t have, she reckoned that she didn’t need. “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away; blessed be the Name of the Lord.”

But, in truth, Ann was rich. She was rich in friendships and she was rich in kindness, gentleness, and humility. She had so many good friends it would be difficult to account for them all, particularly given her long life. But, Pastor Gronbach and Baldur from Iceland immediately come to mind as holding a special place in Ann’s heart. Her dear friend Mary who passed away not too many years ago and Oskey, who was a dependable handy-man were regular visitors at Ann’s home. From the church there is Janet Sullivan and Nancy Ettinger, both of whom would drive Ann to church. And then there is Kathe Foster who took special care of Ann particularly the past couple years. And that’s just scratching the surface and from my relatively brief knowledge of Ann. These each can testify to the contentment and peace that Ann represented.

We are thankful for Ann and the blessing that the Lord has made of her to us. She is an example for us of a better perspective on life. Indeed, you could just as well hear the words of faith uttered by the Mother of our Lord Jesus rolling off of Ann’s lips, “Lord, may it be to me according to Your Word.” God has blessed us with the gift of Ann’s life, and God blesses us now with the certainty of His promise to Ann fulfilled as she now lives with Jesus in paradise. “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

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