Monday, May 7, 2018

Funeral Sermon for Veretta Cheal May 5, 2018

Title: At home with Jesus forever!
Text: John 14:3 (English Standard Version)

3And 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.

Dear friends, family and loved ones of our beloved Veretta.

I’m Pastor Russ Tkac, Pastor of Peace and I've been blessed to be Veretta’s pastor for the last 5 years and joyfully be able to celebrate her life with you, her dear family and friends.

Prior to becoming her pastor I had only heard about her.

In the Gospel text for today we read: (Jesus says)

1 "Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2In 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? 3And 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. (John 14:1-3)

So what had I heard? Well she was a charter member of this church and had a long history here. She was a shut in and not regularly able to come to church. she was a name and a story. After ordination and installation here at Peace I received this folder. It was the shut-in and home visitation list folder. This is my latest and updated list.

Number 1 on the list is Veretta Cheal. This hand written list was Pastor Merrell’s. He was here before computers … maybe before electricity! He was here and served so long and especially the home bound members of Peace like Veretta. On his list Veretta is number 5, not because she was of less important but numbers 1-4 have gone to be with the Lord and Veretta has now joined them.

When it was my turn to make the visits from Peace I was a little concerned. Veretta had been burdened with depression for many years.

Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28 come to mind: 

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
I couldn’t think of anyone more heavy laden than Veretta. How could I help? What could I do? On bad days it was heard. My typical call:

Pastor: Hello Veretta
Veretta: Oahhhh…
Pastor: I was hoping to stop by and see you.
Veretta: Oahhh….
Pastor: Would Tuesday work for you?
Veretta: No …. I have … an appointment.
Pastor: Great! I’m seeing Kathy on Wednesday and I’ll stop by and see you at the same time. That would be alright wouldn’t it?
Veretta: Oahhh … I guess so.
Pastor: When I get there, if you don’t feel up to a visit you can let me know and I’ll leave. I never left.

It took all of my 32 years of sales skills to out maneuver her. She was good. But as a salesman I knew how to answer objections … and once I earn her trust … this burdened, depressed, shut-in, charter member of Peace became a joy and a blessing in my life.

In John’s gospel:

Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" 6Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:5-6)

Veretta knew the way and she knew Jesus as her Lord.

When the depression came she closed up like a shell but when she had relief from her illness she had joy to spare.

One of my last visits with her she had been burdened and as I thought about what to do I said to myself, I wonder when Veretta last sang some hymns? So I took my guitar and some song sheets and in Veretta’s apartment we sang I am Jesus little Lamb, Amazing Grace, Christ is our Cornerstone, I know that my Redeemer lives and a few others. We had communion and our prayers and went I was leaving I say, “Now Veretta you call me when you’re feeling better.”

Well a day or two later as I was sitting at home and thinking I should call her my phone rang. I looked at it and it was from Veretta. She had a wonderful way on the phone. 

I answered: “Hello Veretta its pastor.”

She answered: “Hi! … It’s Veretta. I’m feeling better. Debbie said I should call you.”

We had many calls. Sometimes it was for prayer and other times to rejoice. At times to simply ask for comfort and peace or to return thanks for his great blessings in our lives.

Veretta enjoyed growing up on a farm and always desired to get back up north whenever she could. She had a deep love for her husband Jim meeting at the bowling alley after moving down here for work at Consumers Power. Her apartment was … pretty … with quality furniture that showed Veretta’s joy for order and care. Each piece had special meaning to her and was decorated with family mementoes and joyful history.

Veretta was a focus in my sermon for Good Shepherd Sunday a few weeks ago as I shared her introducing me to her neighbor John Stade. Veretta wanted to make sure that John received the Lord’s care just like she did. It is that caring love that Veretta had for you her dear family and friends and also for her savior Jesus and all that he did for her in this life.

On one of my last visits before she entered the Lord’s presence I read her these psalm verses.

They can bring comfort and peace for you and me as we all grieve.

Psalm 4:8 (ESV)
8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

Psalm 27:1 (ESV)
27 The 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?

Psalm 31:5 (ESV)
5 Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.

Psalm 73:26 (ESV)
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Veretta prayed the Lord’s Prayer - which were her last words – and though is was hard and a bit labored, she did it as well as best she could. Debbie told me it was the last words she spoke.
Heaven is now Veretta’s home.

You too have this home waiting for you. The blessed Good News that Jesus died for your sins is the wonderful Gospel message you can trust.

Jesus has forgiven your sin and by the power of the Holy Spirit, in you, has given you the faith to believe in His saving work and a place prepared for you, forgiven in Christ and forever with our Lord and savior Jesus, and that’s a Heaven and an eternity you can trust.

The Lord kept Veretta to himself and to Peace. He connected her to our physical congregation through my visits and through his gifts of word and sacrament. But more importantly he connected her to an eternal peace and an eternal life with Christ forever. Though Veretta is no longer here for me to visit we are forever united in Christ and one day we will be reunited with glorified bodies in heaven where no, doctor’s visits, hospital beds or wheel chairs will be needed. This is the Lord’s promise! 

Veretta was prepared, she was forgiven in Christ, and she will be … at home with Jesus forever because Christ has promised:

3And 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.

May the Lord comfort you with this blessed good news now and forever!


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