Funeral Service: Sarah Cornelia Erasmus
12/08/1944 – 29/08/2017
2 C0R 4.16 – 5.10
1. OPENING PRAYER
16 Om hierdie rede word ons nie moedeloos nie. Al is ons uiterlik besig om te vergaan, innerlik word ons van dag tot dag vernuwe. 17 Ons swaarkry in hierdie lewe is maar gering en gaan verby, maar dit loop vir ons uit op ’n heerlikheid wat alles verreweg oortref en wat ewig bly. 18 Ons oog is nie op die sigbare dinge gerig nie, maar op die onsigbare; want die sigbare dinge is tydelik, maar die onsigbare ewig.
1 Ons weet dat, wanneer ons aardse woning wat maar ‘n tent is, afgebreek word, ons ‘n vaste gebou in die hemel het. Dit is ‘n woning wat nie deur mense gemaak is nie, maar deur God, en dit bly ewig staan.
2 Terwyl ons in die tentwoning leef, sug ons, want ons verlang daarna dat ons woning uit die hemel ons sal oordek.
3 Ons wil nie ontklee wees en naak voor God staan nie.
4 Ons wat nog in die tentwoning is, sug en voel bedruk omdat ons nie van die aardse liggaam afstand wil doen nie; ons wil die hemelse bo-oor die aardse aantrek, sodat wat sterflik is, verteer kan word deur die lewe.
5 Hy wat ons vir hierdie oorgang voorberei het, is God. As waarborg hiervan het Hy ons sy Gees gegee.
6 Daarom is ons altyd vol moed. Ons weet dat, solank as ons in die liggaam bly, ons nog nie by die Here woon nie,
7 want ons lewe deur geloof, nie deur sien nie.
8 Ons is vol moed en sou liewer ons verblyf in die liggaam wil verlaat en by die Here gaan woon.
9 Maar, of ons hier woon of daar woon, ons het net een wens, en dit is om te lewe soos Hy dit wil.
10 Ons moet immers almal voor die regterstoel van Christus verskyn, sodat elkeen kan ontvang volgens wat hy tydens sy aardse lewe gedoen het, of dit nou goed was of kwaad. 2 Korintiërs 4 (AFR1983)
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
1 Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.
2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling,
3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.
4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
5 Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.
7 We live by faith, not by sight.
8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due to him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 4 (NIV)
For you, as the family and friends of Sarah, the life and death of a loved one is of utmost importance. For months to come you will sit and speak of Sarah, the things she has said and things you have done together. She will live in your thoughts and in your words.
Death is a constant reminder that life is not static and has different phases. We all know that, sometimes, we can see the phase of death approaching us or a loved one, and that at other times, it comes suddenly, without any warning.
In our text for today, the Apostle Paul describes his understanding of life and death. He specifically contrasts life before death and life after death in terms of “temporality” and “eternity”. He describes life before death as if we are living in a tent vs the permanent building built by God. He also describes life before death as being full of troubles and suffering and the eternal life as one of eternal glory.
The transition to a different phase in our life is often difficult. No other phase is so dramatic as death, and there is no turning back from it. Paul seems to realise how difficult it is for us to think about entering the new, unknown phase through death. He brings us encouragement, not only about what this new phase would hold, but also comfort that we are not alone during this transition. For Paul, God had created us and at the same time prepared us, in the life we lead, for the eternal life. The Holy Spirit is our guarantee of the eternal life (5:5). Life with God is also a life of justice (5:10).
There is a danger that we might read Paul as if he is saying that this life is unimportant. As if this life is something that we should just wish away and that the eternal life is the only thing we should focus on.
This would be short-sighted. We should have both a long-term and a short-term view. The long-term view is eternity. The long-term view, in times of suffering, should help us to understand that there exists more than only this moment. When Paul experiences difficulty, it is this long-term view that carries him and encourages him to go on.
In the short-term view, this bodily life in our temporary tents is of tremendous importance. Our bodies may be temporary, but we are not temporary. Paul was thinking not only about the eternal life (long-term view). According to Paul, we would have to give an account of our lives before God (5:10). I do not think he is using this as a threat, because he is trying to comfort his readers. The reference to “judgement” confirms how important this temporary phase of life really is. We have to take responsibility for this phase and what we do. We can’t just sit and dream about the future. It also confirms that this temporary life in tents, on its own, is not complete. We all know that in this life we will never see justice and equality to their fullest. It is also a promise that, eventually, there will be justice and equality.
It is also not as if we are all on our own and just have to perform. Through the work of reconciliation of Christ, God lets us become new people (5:16-17). God wants to help us to live this life in our human bodies to its fullest. To make the most of this life.
The promise of eternity should not be understood as an invitation to see living in a tent temporarily as unimportant. This life, this earth, and our bodies, are of great importance. Therefore, the Bible puts much emphasis on loving your neighbour and yourself.
We, are together here today to think about the promise of eternity, the long-term view. This is something that we know Sarah was looking forward to during the last days of her life. She was encouraged by the knowledge that her shortage of breath would come to an end and that there was something better awaiting her.
We are also together because you as her friends and family must go on living, must also find some sense in this life, although without Sarah’s physical presence. Some of you might be wishing today to join Sarah! But your task is in this physical world, with all its challenges, sorrows, but also beauty.
May God, who already reconciles heaven and earth in Jesus Christ, give you the strength through the Holy Spirit for the days, weeks and months ahead. May you find purpose in this life, in the midst of pain and longing!
Frederik B O Nel