Blessed In The Sight Of The Lord Is The Death Of His Saints — Funeral Bernice Schwaab

Call To Attention for the Funeral in memory of Bernice Schwaab and for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

25Jesus said…”I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” John 11


Exalted and Condescending God of all comfort, we thank you, that for the sake of your and our beloved Jesus Christ, you come near to us in our time of grief. We confess that thou art the author of life and death and life beyond death. We are humbled that as Sovereign of all the universe you are still intimately concerned with the sorrow of thy people who you have put in Christ. We thank thee that thou hast not abandoned us to grieve as those without hope. We thank thee that in Jesus you have provided a Redeemer not only from our sins but also from our corruption. In this hour of bereavement cause us to be satisfied with your present comfort and sustain us by the Spirit of Christ. In Jesus Christ’s name we pray … AMEN.

* Scripture Reading

4″O LORD, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
5Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!

15As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
17But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,
18to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
19The LORD has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort. (II Corinthians 1)

1God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. (Psalm 46)



The word ‘eulogy’ literally means ‘good saying.’ Its practice in funerals is the desire to accentuate the blessing that the departed was to those in this life because of their character. We speak eulogies not with the purpose of turning the deceased into an Angel but rather to recognize that as all men bear the image of God so there is in the character of all men that which can be esteemed and well spoken of. In speaking the eulogy we are extolling the one we love who has gone to sleep but more importantly we are praising the one who gave life, breath and character to all that have come from His Creative hand.

When we think of Bernice we are mindful of a woman who was far more typical of another era then women of our era. Bernice’s life was largely characterized by what we might style as a homespun life.
Over the years during our conversations I learned that if something could be grown or slaughtered Bernice could and did can it. I learned about things I was genuinely interested in. Bernice explained how to can pork or beef and in the explanation she would regale me about the many hours she had spent in such projects. I learned that vegetables and fruits and meats could be canned that I never knew existed. I also learned of a woman who deeply cared for her family for whom she was exerted all this labor.

And of course before the produce could be canned it first had to be grown and Bernice and I had many conversations about the best wisdom for growing this or that vegetable. I learned she loved the simple things in life that one can get from a garden like a good tomato sandwich, a ear of corn and a portabella mushroom. The homespun life is the good life.

The homespun life of Bernice extended to her abilities in the home. Bernice was famous for her ability to knit and crochet and the general ability to create joy and warmth for people from one or two needles and some thread or yarn. Bernice knitted mountain of mittens and scarves and contributed them to organizations that would distribute them to those who were in need. It is difficult to believe that there were enough babies in the world for all the baby blankets Bernice crocheted in her life. She took this talent and ability and showered it upon her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

The homespun life of Bernice was simple and thus she liked the simple things, whether it was a moonflower or apple blossom-growing outsider her windows or whether it was a meal of macaroni, and tomato soup with just a touch of bacon grease. There is much to be praised in taking enjoyment in the simple things and living a simple homespun life.

The homespun life includes love of family and Bernice loved her family – not only her family that was living but also her family that had passed. I learned a great deal about Bernice’s teacher organist playing mother and her hard-working father. I learned a great deal of her husband. Indeed, I would say when we weren’t talking about gardening or canning we were talking about her family. She mentioned how faithful they were in visiting her. I must admit that her family is so large it took quite some time in our conversations before I could even begin to keep the many family member names straight in my head –but she had you all straight and she loved all of you as only a mother, grandmother, sister, or Aunt could love her family.

Like all of us here Bernice wasn’t perfect. Her fierce independence, occasional stubbornness and the ability to give someone a good piece of her mind when necessary were also a part of the portrait that God painted in the life of Bernice. In an age where we are suffocating from syrupy sentimental niceness I tend to think to highly of these kinds of character agitations.

There was something else that was a constant hum that provided the background ambiance for Bernice’s life and that was the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Like many from her generation her faith was a simple faith that wasn’t worn on her sleeve but that simple faith gave ballast and gravitas to all that she did. Bernice believed the simple basics of the Bible and having been called by Christ she died in the faith.

If we said nothing else in this eulogy then saying, “she died in the faith” we would be saying enough.



It is my earnest prayer that you will pause to listen to the next 10 minutes for it is entirely possible that you will hear something more important in the next 10 minutes then you will hear in the next 10 years.

Bernice was what Scripture calls a ‘Covenant child.’ In the Church that means a great deal, not least of which is the God of the Bible claimed Bernice as His own in Baptism.

And even though God’s people might neglect God’s covenant claim upon them by absenting themselves from the proclamation of the Word and from feasting upon Christ in the Sacrament that doesn’t negate God’s ownership claim upon his people who he has marked as His own in Baptism or by His general ownership claim upon all mankind.

In the few minutes that we have what shall we say of this God of the Bible that has a special claim upon those brought to the Baptismal font but also lays a general claim upon all who live and breathe?

First Scripture records that God is big and man is small. Of course our tendency is to turn around this truth so that man is big and God is small. Still, the Bible teaches that God sits upon the rim of the earth and that its inhabitants are as Grasshoppers.

Scripture further teaches us that this Great Big Transcendent God is so Pure, Holy, and Just that any creature that has any sliver of evil about them cannot be allowed into His presence, for to keep time with such sinfulness would call into question God’s Holy character.

Obviously what we have said already is not good news for people like you and I have more then just a sliver of evil to contend with. Indeed the Bible teaches that we were born with a human nature that is evil. We were born not able to commune with God due to God’s awesome purity and our ugly sinfulness. Indeed Scripture teaches that we increase our debt to God every day.

So, how does God resolve this dilemma?

On the one hand we have God who has a claim on us that if we fail to take seriously will result in eternal separation from the good life that only He can give – the good life that any sane person would desire.

While on the other hand, because of our moral impurity, it is impossible for God to even hear any of our appeals for help.

The answer that the Church offers to this dilemma, in submission to God’s revelation in Scripture, is the person and work of Jesus Christ.
God, with regard to His mercy and the need of fallen men, out of love, sent forth Christ to be the means by which His Just anger against our moral impurity would be extinguished through the punishment of His Son on the Cross. In Christ He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ.

During the Christmas season that is upcoming we celebrate this coming of Christ to save His people from their sins. During the Easter season we celebrate that Christ triumphed over the death that we deserved insuring that we likewise triumph with Him.

You see my friends Scripture teaches that the soul that sins shall surely die. Every sin must be visited with its proper penalty or God stands being accused of being unjust. Scripture further teaches that in what happened in the death of Christ on the Cross, God out of regard for His own merciful character, decided that He would lay the penalty of the sin of His people, people like you and I, upon the God-Man Jesus. On the Cross-Jesus takes the sin of His people and in Spirit given repentance He covers us with His obedience – an obedience that makes us a delight to the Father.

The result of this work of the Cross where God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself is that people like you and I can know what it means to live the good life in fellowship with the God who created us. The rejection of this God who sacrifices Himself to restore us to our full humanity results in an increasingly inhumane life that is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.

And then God having taken us out of our contrived, cruel, and pretend reality puts us into His real reality. In this new creation Kingdom we are made joint heirs with Christ and are adopted into a close knit family that gathers Sunday after Sunday where God reminds us that despite our ongoing sin we really are forgiven and to be fed and nourished with the King’s Word and the King’s Food & Drink. We call this Church and our absenting ourselves from gathering to hear God’s gracious Word week in and week out is to the peril of our souls.

This is the God who laid claim on Bernice in Baptism. And this is the God who even now offers Himself to those who recognize themselves to be living on the wrong end of a life that is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.

Lord’s Prayer

Our Father Who art in heaven Hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil
For thine are the Kingdom, and the power and the glory forever. AMEN

Prayer For Family

Benediction / Dismissal – Numbers 6:24-26

News From Zimbabwe


While I was in Seminary I developed a solid and close friendship with a family from Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia). Amos and I took classes together, studied together, and were next door neighbors in our living arrangements for a couple years. Our first born children (both girls) were born within 6 months of each other. Once I took my first ministry his family and my family shared a very large garden together on the land that the Manse sat on. We shared in the labors and we shared in the harvest. A few years later I visited Zimbabwe and did a wee bit of missionary work while staying in Harrare (formerly Salisbury). It was quite the eye opener to say the least.

Amos and I have continued to stay in touch through the years. We have continued to support the family and the Church work that they are involved in. We are a small Church and so our support is just a drop in the bucket in comparison to the need.

As many of you might know Zimbabwe currently is in desperate throes as a Nation.

Below I have reproduced a recent letter from the family.

Dear Friends

We take this opportunity to update you of our situation here in Zimbabwe. We can not say much but enough to just say our situation here continues to deteriorate very rapidly. Actually we have moved from three meals a day to one. There is literally no food in our shops, no sugar, no mealie meal, no rice, no noodles, no meat, no milk, the list is endless. We were excited when we received news of your desire to assist our family financially. It is our hope that God will enable you by his grace to do so. We explored several ways of sending money and the only way to do currently is through the Western Union, They are able to pass on the money without any difficult.

Our prayer is that is we would get some hard currency, ie. US$ or South African rands than we we can go to South Africa or Botswana to purchase food stocks for the family. Our thanksgiving and Christmas prospects look very gloomy but who knows what God can do in such a time as this?

Yesterday we had a very exciting Sunday service.It was a Bring A Friend Sunday.Quite a number of new faces visited our church and 3 of them gave their lives to the Lord. So despite of other hardships the Lord is at work.

God bless you,

Zimbabwe Family

If on the off chance you would like to support this family in their physical need and in their ministry you can make a check out to the Charlotte Christian Reformed Church. In the notation space in the left hand corner of the check designate it as Zimbabwe.

The Church’s mailing address is

Charlotte Christian Reformed Church
421 State Street
Charlotte, Michigan 48813

My Kingdom Is Not Of This World

“‘My kingdom is not of [ek: out from] this world,'” is a statement about the source — not the nature — of His reign, as the epexegetical ending of the verse makes obvious: ‘My kingdom is not from here [enteuthen].’ The teaching is not that Christ’s kingdom is wholly otherworldly, but rather that it originates with God Himself (not any power or authority found in creation.”

Dr. Greg Bahnsen
God & Politics — pg. 27

B. F. Wescott speaking of John 18:36 could comment,

“Yet He did claim a sovereignty, a sovereignty of which the spring and the source was not of earth but of heaven. My Kingdom is not of this world (means it) does not derive its origin or its support from earthly sources.”

The Gospel According To John — pg. 260

John 18:36 along with Matthew 22:15-22 are two of the passages that are often put forth as defeaters for the comprehensive sovereignty of the Lord Jesus over this world. Bahnsen clearly shows here, quite in agreement with the Greek scholar B. F. Westcott, that God’s Kingdom, as it manifests itself in this world, is energized by a source outside this world. This is important to emphasize because many people read John 18:36 as proof that the Kingdom of Jesus does not and should not express itself in this world. Often this verse is appealed to in order to prove that God’s Kingdom is only “spiritual” and as such Christians shouldn’t be concerned about what are perceived as “non-spiritual” realms. Support for such thinking, if there is any, must come from passages other than John 18:36.