We gather this morning to remember and celebrate the life of Clarissa Alice Lanphere. As we do so, we take the opportunity to regain perspective on life and death.
In Psalm 39 the Psalmist says,
Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath. But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you. Save me from all my transgressions; do not make me the scorn of fools. Hear my prayer, O LORD, listen to my cry for help; be not deaf to my weeping. For I dwell with you as an alien, a stranger, as all my fathers were. (vv. 4,5,7,8,12)
The Living Bible has a wonderful paraphrase of the 23rd Psalm,
Because the Lord is my Shepherd I have everything that I need. He lets me rest in meadow grass and leads me beside the quiet streams. He restores my failing health. He helps me do what honors Him the most. Even when walking through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way.
You provide delicious food for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcomed me as your special guest; blessings overflow! Your goodness and unfailing kindness shall be with me all of my life, and afterwards I will live with you forever in your home.
And it was Jesus who said to us: “Come to me all who are weary and are heavily burdened and I will give you rest.”
So this is what we do today. We turn to Him for comfort, we look to His promise for hope and we commit Mrs. Lanphere to His mercy and grace.
Let’s pray together,
Father we gather today to acknowledge that life is in your hands. You give us life and you number the days of that life. Today you bring us together as family and friends and help us renew acquaintances. Today we remember your blessing in our life given through the life of Clarissa Alice Lanphere. Help us as we remember her. But even more, help us to find the comfort that comes only from You.
Mrs. Clarissa Alice Lanphere, was born December 18, 1915 in Hamilton, Illinois, the daughter of Floyd and Pearl Law Ebert. On June 16, 1933 she married Alvin Weber in LaHarpe. On January 2, 1956 she married Dale Lanphere in Des Moines, New Mexico. He died July 31, 1991. Mrs. Lanphere was 92 when she passed away last Saturday, November 15, 2008 at 7:00 A.M. at the Grand Court Assisted Living in Farmington Hills MI.
Mrs. Lanphere was raised in Hamilton and Nauvoo, Illinois. She worked at the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant during World War II and as a clerk at a large chain store. She graduated from Delmar Beauty School and worked as a beautician for several years. She loved to garden and sew. In 1997 she moved to Michigan to be near her son Alvin and his family.
She is survived by 3 grandchildren, Alice (Alfred) Diebel of Farmington Hills, Alvin (Kate) Weber III of Sterling Heights, Michigan and Wendy (Bruce) Arthur of Waterford, Michigan, 3 step-grandchildren, Ed (Liz) Dirnberger of Shelby Township, Michigan, Christine (Phil) Guilbault of Macomb Township, Michigan and Cheri (Ken) Redman of New York, 11 great-grandchildren, 6 great-great-grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Dale, son, Alvin Weber Jr., daughter-in-law, Marlene Weber, 2 sisters, Leona Quivey Hobby and Frieda Smith and 4 brothers, Fred, Floyd Jr., Max and Clarence Ebert.
I did not know Clarissa (as some of you know her) or Alice or Aunt “Sis”. From what I understand she got the name “Aunt sis” because her sister Leona couldn’t say Clarissa so she just called her “Sis”. The name stuck.
Mrs. Lanphere grew up in this area. She enjoyed spending time with her sisters. She and Leona used to go mushroom hunting. From what I understand, if you wanted to go mushroom hunting with them you had better be in good shape because it was going to be a long day.
She also enjoyed taking trips to Florida to see her sister Frieda. She liked to go down there and go shopping. I think she also enjoyed the warm weather. She and Leona used to enjoy taking bus trips together.
If I understand correctly, Mrs. Lanphere lived in Michigan with her first husband and son. During those years she worked at a dime store. After Alvin was raised Alice and her husband were divorced and she retuned to La Harpe where she met and married Dale Lanphere. These were very happy years.
In 1997, Alice returned to Michigan to live near her son and Grandchildren.
Alice was known as a sweet and soft-spoken woman. Every Christmas she would give the Grandchildren new pajamas. She always sent homemade cookies and fudge.
Wendy remembers Grandma’s patience in teaching her how to knit one summer when she came to visit in LaHarpe. Alice made many hot pads and slippers over the years.
Sherry remembers how easy she was to talk to. She would give you her full attention. She was gentle and caring with the kids. Grandma used to write great letters and notes. The letters all included details of her day to day activities and she always described what the weather was like in LaHarpe.
After Alice moved back to Gladwin, Michigan she always enjoyed when the kids would come and take her to lunch at Robins Restaurant near Frankenmuth Michigan. She always said she wasn’t very hungry but she never left anything on her plate!
In her later years she didn’t complain much. She said, “it wouldn’t do any good anyway.’
She was an independent person. Even in later years she was still driving herself to the hairdresser and the store.
Alice loved to garden. She enjoyed her flowers and her vegetables. She also loved sports. She especially liked watching baseball and football on television. She especially enjoyed watching the Detroit Tigers.
Alice was blessed to be able to enjoy her Grandchildren, Great-Grandchildren and Great-Great Grandchildren. They loved her and she returned their love. Even though she lived a full and long life, she will still be missed.
In John 14 Jesus gave us these wonderful words of comfort
Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my fathers house are many mansions; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go and prepare a place for you? And when 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. You know the way to the place where I am going…Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except through me.
This passage has dried more tears, strengthened more hearts, and graced more funerals than perhaps any other passage apart from Psalm 23. Jesus spoke these words in the Upper Room on the eve of His crucifixion. His intention was to comfort the troubled hearts of His disciples. Jesus had told them that he was going to lay down His life for them. The thought of His death created a great deal of fear in their hearts. INn these words Jesus gave them reassurance.
Note three things. First, note the peace that Jesus offers. “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me.” He is telling us that we can take charge of our hearts. We can determine our emotions and our attitudes. We are the ones who determine whether we view this day as the end or as a transition. We can choose to despair or to hope. The key is to trust the testimony of the Bible. We must focus on the teaching, the experience and the resurrection of Jesus and entrust ourselves to this One who rose from the dead. If we do this, we will have peace and hope even in the midst of sadness.
Second, notice the Place that He has prepared for us. In my fathers house are many mansions; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go and prepare a place for you? And when 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. Jesus promises life beyond the grave. He promises a home in heaven. Whether this is some big mansion or a nice little condo really doesn’t matter. As long as we are in Heaven, the size of our residence is inconsequential.
Jesus said he will come and take us to Himself. This may refer to the time in the future when Christ returns to earth and gathers all of His followers together. But it also may refer to the point of death. I like the image of a family walking their loved one to death’s door (as you have done) and then entrusting that person to the nail-scared hands of Jesus. Think about it. As they walk through that door
- Infirmity gives way to health
- Weakness gives way to strength
- Sorrow gives way to joy
- Resignation gives way to Victory
- Good-bye gives way to Hello
- Separation gives way to Reunion
Imagine crossing the threshold of Heaven and being hugged by Jesus and then seeing a host of family and friends who serve as the “welcoming party”. Jesus does not point to death as the end of life . . . simply the end of the journey. When we get to Heaven we have reached our destination.
When you go on vacation you don’t see the arrival at your destination as a bad thing. It’s the best thing! It is the very thing you have been looking forward to. Now the vacation can begin! What we have looked forward to is now reality. It is my hope that this is Alice’s experience today.
Third, notice the Path that Jesus prescribes. You know the way to the place where I am going…Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except through me. Jesus warns us that not every road leads to heaven. There’s only one way, one road, and one plan of salvation. Peter later put it this way: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
The Bible tells us that we gain eternal life when we put our trust and confidence in Jesus Christ. Those who recognize Him as the Lord of Life and who put their confidence in His sacrificial death and decisive resurrection are those who live even though they die. This is not a matter of suspending your thinking and reasoning. It is a reasoned choice based on the evidence of His perfect life, sacrificial death and verifiable resurrection. Faith is taking Him as His Word.
Suppose someone put a million dollars into a trust account for you. You did nothing to earn the money. You did not ask for money. You are told that you will receive this money if you have enough faith to write a check on the account. Those who disbelieve and ignore the invitation will get nothing. Those who believe will be richly blessed.
This is a picture of our salvation. Jesus has paid for our failures and rebellion. Only those who trust what He has done will live beyond the grave. Those who ignore His words and promise will not be granted life beyond the grave.
Since I did not know Clarissa Alice Lanphere, I can’t possibly know whether she trusted the promise of Jesus. Only God knows her heart. We know she went to church. We know this was important to her. I hope and pray that she also put her faith and trust in Christ. If she did, she is now enjoying the place that God has prepared just for her.
Our job today is to do several things. First, we should remember and celebrate Alice’s life. I encourage you to learn what you can about her life. Share stories, re-read letters, look at old pictures. Savor the life that was lived.
Second, we have come to comfort each other in loss. Family and friends provide the strength needed in such times.
Finally, we take this opportunity, when we must face the reality of death, and evaluate our own lives. Are you ready for eternity? Have you put your trust in the One who alone can lead you to live even though you die? Do you know your final destination?
I encourage you to look at the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. Look at His life. Listen to His words. I am confident that if you will do so, you will be willing to entrust your life and future to Him. And then when you face death’s threshold you will not face it fear but with anticipation. Then you too will enjoy that place that He has prepared for You. And who knows, the welcoming party may just include Alice. That will be a reunion worth looking forward to.
Father, again we thank you for the life of Clarissa Alice Lanphere. Thank you for her years of life, the wisdom she passed on, the skills she taught, and the joy and love she gave to those who are here today. Father, please wrap your loving arms around her and bring her to the wonderful place that you have prepared for her.
Help us O Lord to remember the healthy times. Help us to remember the life lessons passed on. Help us to find faith in You.
Please protect and keep this family as they travel and as they wait for that day when we will all be reunited in Your house.