We are gathered here to mourn the death and celebrate the life of Hazel Lucille Lund. If we look to the Bible, there are many passages that bring us comfort. In 1 Corinthians 15, we read these words:
I declare to you brothers that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery, we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
This is our hope today. Though we bury Hazel’s body, we claim the victory that comes through Christ alone.
Hazel Lucille Lund was born Hazel Johnson on November 2, 1913 near Raritan, Illinois, the daughter of Carl J. and Helga Alida Reed Johnson. Growing up she attended the Melville Country School. She was baptized at the Lomax Christian Church, where she once learned the books of the Bible, earning herself a pocket New Testament. On November 18, 1933 she married Charles “Buster” Lund in Macomb, Illinois.
She and her husband lived and farmed for 34 years near Disco, Illinois. Hazel took an active role in the family farm and could often be seen driving the tractor down the road full throttle in third gear. On December 27, 1978, Buster was admitted to the hospital with chest pains and only about an hour later, Hazel received word that he had died. After Buster’s death Hazel moved in with Homer and Charlene, and in 1980, the three of them moved to LaHarpe. She lived with Homer and Charlene up until recently when she moved to the LaHarpe Nursing Home. Hazel was a member of the D.E. Club, the LaHarpe Senior Citizens and the LaHarpe Union Church.
Hazel passed away Saturday, February 24, 2007 at 8:25 A.M. at the Great River Medical Center in West Burlington, Iowa at the age of 93.
She is survived by one daughter, Charlene (Homer) Quigle of LaHarpe, two grandchildren, Jeffrey (Susie) Quigle of West Des Moines, Iowa and Candy (Kurt) Kapischke of McKinney, Texas, four great-grandchildren, Christopher and Kyle Kapischke and Abby and Claire Quigle, one sister, Margaret Cratsenberg of LaHarpe and one cousin, Lee Carlson of Stronghurst, Illinois.
She was preceded in death by her husband, two sisters, Clarice Eckhardt and Dorothy Bowen and one brother, Kenneth Johnson.
Though Hazel’s life on earth has ended, we have hope from the words of Jesus. The day before Jesus died, he told his disciples:
“Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s 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.”
Jesus tells us that even though we are sinful and are deserving of hell, he has made it possible for us to have a place in heaven after we die. He assures us that our salvation, our place in heaven, isn’t dependent upon anything that we do, but rather on the fact that He has gone to prepare a place for us. If we trust Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life, the only one who can forgive us of our sins, he guarantees us that our eternal home is heaven.
Knowing Hazel, I sense that she understood this fact, and trusted Jesus alone to forgive her of her sins. I firmly believe that on Saturday when Hazel’s earthly life ended, her new life began with Christ. While we mourn today that we will no longer see Hazel, we can rejoice that she is now at home and not enslaved by her earthly body an longer.
Will you pray with me? Father, we bow before you this morning and honor you as the only one who can determine the number of our days. You determine when we are born and when it is time for us to die. You are also the only one who can forgive us for the things we’ve done wrong. Father, today we mourn the loss of Hazel, but we have assurance that if her faith was in you, she is now home. Help us to remember and celebrate her earthly life and give us strength as we grieve. We ask these things in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Hazel Lund was a woman who liked to be active. As a child she worked on the farm. She milked cows, took care of chickens, hogs and sheep. She was right out there helping to drive the tractor.
She learned to drive when her brother moved away and there was no one at home who could drive. She learned to drive on a Model “T”.
Hazel was always close with her sisters: Margaret, Dorothy, Clarice, and her brother Kenneth. She was also very close to her nephew Rodney Cratsenberg. They were close throughout their lives.
When Hazel married Buster she worked side by side with her husband. She was a person who always made sure the living room and the front bedroom looked extra nice. She wanted to make a good first impression. She was a good cook and homemaker. She liked to say, “There is a place for everything and everything should be in its place”. She liked to say that even though that wasn’t always true in her life.
Hazel was active in the Disco United Methodist Church. She helped prepare for communion, lent a hand whenever a hand was needed, and even played the piano now and again for Sunday School.
When Charlene started to date Homer, Hazel and Buster thought of him as the son they never had. He was welcomed warmly into the family. Hazel loved being a Grandma. Grandma and Grandpa visited Jeff and Candy every chance they had.
Jeff remembers when the family lived in Burlington, on Sunnyside. Hazel was always reminding Jeff not to play near the street. One day, Grandma Hazel wasn’t doing exactly what toddler Jeff wanted, and he said, “If you don’t take me to the Dime Store, I’m going to play in the street!” They went to the Dime Store.
Grandma loved to play games with the kids. I understand that Jeff didn’t like to lose.
When the Quigles moved to Disco, life for Hazel was grand. It was great to have the family so nearby. Candy remembers that every time she knew Grandma and Grandpa were returning from Burlington she would run to the car to see what they had purchased for her. She remembers another time when she was sitting at Grandma’s nice vanity and was putting on Grandma’s make-up and jewelry. As she was playing she spilled some nail–polish-remover on the vanity. She remembers that Grandma didn’t get mad, but she did “look funny”. Candy used to help Grandma dust the house . . . all except for two dolls that Grandma never wanted her to touch.
Hazel and Buster had a regular Saturday night ritual. They would head to LaHarpe to get groceries, they would come home and then Lee and Peggy would come by to pick them up. They would all cram into the front seat of the truck and then go to the home of Kenneth and Goldie to play SkipBo and Pitch. It’s a wonderful memory.
Buster died while Homer and Charlene and the kids were in Florida at DisneyWorld. Buster had chest pains so Hazel brought him into the hospital in LaHarpe. After he was settled she went back home to take care of some chores and as she got home the phone was ringing. It was Dr. Mueller. Buster had died. Hazel was beside herself. Fortunately, Rodney happened to come by at just that time.
Hazel never had the chance to say good-bye to her husband. Following Buster’s death, Hazel never would go back into the house. Her grief overwhelmed her for awhile. She didn’t want to do anything. She moved in with Homer, Charlene, Jeff and Candy after Buster’s death. In 1980 they moved to town into a bigger home.
Hazel didn’t want to stay home alone . . . especially at night. So she often spent time with her sisters. Andrea, Heather and T.J. remember fun conversations with Dorothy and Aunt Hazel. When Dorothy had cancer Hazel was there to help and lend support to Peggy until Dorothy’s death.
I suspect it wasn’t always easy having mom live with her but Charlene and Homer treated mom with respect and honor as part of their immediate family for almost 30 years. When Hazel had to be put in the Nursing home it was a very difficult decision and a very hard day. I think it is safe to say that I can’t imagine a daughter and son-in-law (and family) who could have treated a person better than Homer and Charlene treated Hazel.
Over the years friends were very kind. Roger and Marge Crum, John and Marilou Fredrickson, and Bonnie and Owen Kendall of Burlington all always made it a point to invite Hazel anytime they were inviting Homer and Charlene to do anything. They were and are great friends who will always be cherished for their love and kindness. Hazel also had a lot of fun with Tom and Elie Koopmans also.
Hazel Lund was a woman of faith and a woman who was filled with grace and compassion. I can’t think of a single time when she came out of worship with anything but a smile and a kind and gracious word. Even after she moved to the Nursing home, where she had some mini-strokes that changed her personality, you could still see that graciousness come out. Even in the hospital last week, she was sure to thank the nurses for their help (even if what they were doing wasn’t pleasant).
Hazel loved her God and she loved her family. They also loved her. When you think about it, it’s hard to think of a better epitaph than that.
I want to read to you a text that I think brings great comfort in times of loss.
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 Corinthians 5:1)
Notice two things. First, death is a normal part of life. Paul was writing to people about the reality that we all experience; people we love sometimes die. Our bodies (or earthly tents) wear out. That’s the way we are designed. Death is not abnormal, it is normal.
Certainly some people die tragically but, apart from the possibility of the second coming of Christ, we will all die. As we watched Hazel Lund we could see her dying. She became forgetful, she became confused, at times she became unnaturally agitated. These were all signs that her body was giving out. Over the last week that process of decay became quite evident in her frame.
No one wants to die. But we all will. It is helpful in times of sadness to remember that this is a normal part of life. One of the things that makes this so hard is the fact that we are confronted with the reality of our own mortality. As we grieve at death we are also reminded of the importance of living while we are alive.
Second, notice that Paul points us beyond death. He says when we die we will have a new body in Heaven. Joni Eareckson spends most of her life in a wheelchair. Her legs are lifeless and her arms are limited in what they can do. Joni spends a lot of time thinking about the transformation of the body. She imagines what it will be like,
One day no more bulging middles or balding tops. No varicose veins or crow’s-feet. No more cellulite or support hose. Forget the thunder thighs and highway hips. Just a quick leapfrog over the tombstone and it’s the body you’ve always dreamed of. Fit and trim, smooth and sleek. [Eareckson, HEAVEN p. 34]
The Bible likens our resurrected body to the transformation that takes place when a seed is planted in the ground, or when a caterpillar comes out of the cocoon as a butterfly. The transformation that takes place is something that we can’t understand. Eareckson writes,
trying to understand what our bodies will be like in heaven is much like expecting an acorn to understand his destiny of roots, bark, branches, and leaves. Or asking a caterpillar to appreciate flying. Or a peach pit to fathom being fragrant. Or a coconut to grasp what it means to sway in the ocean breeze. Our eternal bodies will be so grand, so glorious, that we can only catch a fleeting glimpse of the splendor to come. [Eareckson, HEAVEN p. 39]
This is the kind of life that awaits those who have put their trust in Jesus Christ. I believe Hazel Lund was one of those people.
But here’s the question: “Is it true?” Is Heaven simply something that we have made up so that can cope with the reality of the end of life?
I believe in Heaven with all my heart. The Bible tells us that we can know there is life beyond the grave because the One who has risen from the dead, Jesus, has told us that it is true. He has told us that He is going to prepare a place for us so that we may live with Him when we die.
Think about it. When you look at an airplane what you see is this big metal tube with wings on it. When someone tells us that such a thing will safely fly through the air loaded with people. . . we have every reason to be skeptical. It seems absurd. Why would anyone get on one of those things? Why? Because we have seen those metal birds fly. We know people who have been transported by those tubes.
In much the same way, the talk of living beyond the grave sounds like wishful thinking. However, Jesus rose from the dead and has promised that those who put their trust in Him will live even though they die. We know that He has risen and we see how He has changed our lives and the lives of many others like us. So, we believe what He says about life beyond the grave.
So, as we gather today, we are sad. That is a right and normal response to loss. However, we need to remember that we are sad because of our loss. As far as Hazel is concerned, there is nothing at all to be sad about. She has traded in her old worn out shell for a new heavenly body. She has traded the struggles and heartache of life for the glory of Heaven. After all these years, she is reunited with Buster. But even more significantly, she has met her Lord in person. She knows His love, peace, joy and renewal personally and fully. Now, she knows the truth with clarity. She rejoices in a way that is richer than anything we have experienced in this life. She worships with a depth we can’t begin to imagine. To wish to have her back is selfish.
So I encourage you to share your stories. Celebrate the blessing that Hazel brought to your lives. Rejoice in this gift of God to you. Allow yourself to grieve . . . but do not grieve as those who have no hope. Grieve as those who know that this is not the end of the story.
Father, we give you thanks for the life of Hazel Lund. Thank you for her spirit, her laugh, her kind and loving heart, and her sure faith. Now embrace her with your loving arms. Renew her heart and her body. Welcome her into the place that you have prepared for her in your matchless grace.
Thank you also for Jesus. Thank you for His life, His death, His resurrection, and His present intercession on our behalf. Thank you for the hope that we have in your promise of eternal life.
Father, I ask you to comfort and strengthen this family. They have been wonderfully close for a long time. Please help them as they face this change in their lives. Comfort them with the knowledge that they have been faithful and loving toward Hazel right up to the end of her life. Grant many warm memories and grant that the lessons learned might be passed on to others.
And for all of us Lord, teach us to number our days aright. Help us to live with an eye on the life that is to come.
We ask all these things in Jesus’ name.