We have gathered this evening to remember, celebrate and thank God for the life of Maude Ebert; to comfort each other in loss and to remember the promises of God.
Any death of someone we care about leaves us aching in loss. In such times we remember that the Bible gives us a different perspective on death. Paul writes,
51 But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 52 It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. 53 For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.
54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 15:50-57)
Paul reminds us that this life is temporary; a prelude to something wonderful; something better. Though we do not minimize the reality of loss (grief is a natural consequence of love) we want to focus on these truths in time of loss. It is not “pie in the sky denial”. It is a sober reflection on what is true.
Let’s pray together,
Father, we come to you tonight in a time of loss. We confess that we feel numb. We know that death is a part of life. We know that Maude was blessed and lived long. However, death is still a cruel visitor.
Tonight we ask that you help us to find perspective. Comfort this family and friends in loss. Grant us that hope that comes from your promises and from the life and death and resurrection of Jesus.
Maude Lucille Ebert, was born in Burlington, IA on August 13, 1932 the daughter of William and Maude Adams Marshall.
Maude was a graduate of the Nauvoo High School. She grew up working in a restaurant and she became a Nurse’s aide. She would have enjoyed becoming a nurse but it was too costly to do so.
On August 13, 1950 she married Clarence Ebert in Nauvoo, IL. The two of them farmed most of their lives in Fountain Green Township. Maude was a fully involved farm wife. She enjoyed the farm animals (the cattle, hogs, and bottle feeding the lambs). She had a large garden. She was good cook. She even enjoyed walking beans!
Maude was a person one might call “driven”. She had an intensity that often came across as harsh. When she was angry (usually from frustration) everyone knew it. I mean that quite literally. Maude would at times get on the C.B. radio and yell at Clarence or Mark. You might hear her say, “Clarence, do you hear me?” a number of times. After which Clarence would respond with “Yes”. I’m told Maude could “heat up” a lot faster than she could “cool down”.
Maude loved her husband. She would often finish his thoughts for him. If he did something she didn’t agree with (such as drilling a hole in the floor and snagging the carpet in doing so) she let him know in a way that conveyed that let him know she was not happy.
Maude had a great business sense. She helped make the farm successful. She was admittedly frugal. This was because Maude knew what it was like to not have money. She knew how fragile life could be. Clarence preceded her in death on February 16, 1988.
As a mom, Maude wanted to make sure her son grew to be a good man. She taught him to work hard. She believed old adage, “idle hands are the Devil’s workshop”. Long before Larry the Cable Guy Maude was constantly telling Mark to “Get er done!”. Maude believed you should do things right, she believed you should be on time, be careful with money, and always show good manners. She was determined to build these good qualities into the life of her son. Those of us who know Mark, know that she did a good job.
When Mark married Aletha, Maude got to be Grandma to Misty. She enjoyed that greatly. When it was time for Aletha and Misty to move into the house Maude told Mark to make sure that he painted Misty’s room any color she wanted. She had a lot of fun with Misty. One of the favorite pictures of Maude is where she is doubled with laughter at the sight of Misty’s cat all dressed up.
Like many moms Maude at times was not sure that Aletha was good enough for her son. Yet, over the years, Maude came to love Aletha as her own daughter. She even learned to love the pet pigs.
Maude had many interests. She was a member of the Fountain Green Presbyterian Church and the South County Pitch Club. She was a fan of the Chicago Cubs (which, of course meant she had great endurance), the Chicago Bulls, the Dallas Cowboys and NASCAR®, she especially liked Jeff Gordon. Maude loved Politics and was a strong Democrat. It is said that she had more pictures of Bill Clinton than she did of her family!
Over the last number of years it seemed like Maude mellowed. Her faith grew and her life took on a much more Christlike character. The Bible in her room was well read.
Maude originally moved to Galesburg Towers to be near her sister Doris. After Doris died, she stayed because she enjoyed her time at the “Towers” and others seemed to enjoy her. Maude (and Mark and Alertha) was fortunate that one of Maude’s nieces, Connie Knott, was wonderfully attentive and always ready to help when she needed something.
Maude went into the Heartland Nursing home in Galesburg just a couple of weeks before she died. She was well cared for. She went to be with the Lord last Monday afternoon February, 25, 2013. She was 80 years old.
Mrs. Ebert is survived by 1 son, Mark (Aletha) Ebert of rural Blandinsville, 1 granddaughter, Misty Nelson of Chicago, 1 brother, James Marshal of Wataga, IL and several nieces and nephews. Since Maude enjoyed Mark and Aletha’s pet pigs we should say she is also survived by 4 grunt-daughters: Harley Ann, Piggy, Shantel, and Amy.
Maude Ebert was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Clarence, 2 sisters, Anne Crowner and Doris Marshall and 1 brother who died in infancy, Karl Marshall.
Maude was pretty clear that she did not want a visitation or a funeral. People make such a decision for different reasons. Some don’t want a fuss made over them because it makes them uncomfortable. Others are trying to spare their family any burden. Some perhaps don’t believe anyone would attend. I don’t know Maude’s reasons but I do know why we have gathered for this memorial service.
The Bible tells us that a gathering such as this is important. In the book of Ecclesiastes listen to Solomon’s words,
Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties.
After all, everyone dies—
so the living should take this to heart.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter,
for sadness has a refining influence on us.
4 A wise person thinks a lot about death,
while a fool thinks only about having a good time.
No one prefers to attend a funeral. However, Solomon understood that while parties and other social gatherings may be fun, funerals (or, in our case, a memorial service) serves some very important purposes.
First, at a funeral we are led to think about what is truly important in life. It is true that we often don’t appreciate what we have until it is gone. We don’t truly appreciate our home until it is destroyed or we have to move. We don’t appreciate our health until we are sick. We don’t appreciate our children until they move away. And we don’t appreciate many of the special people in our lives until they die. Movies such as “It’s A Wonderful Life” and Charles Dickens “The Christmas Carol” drive home this theme.
There is quote that is attributed to the Dali Lama (with whom I would disagree on many things). He was asked what surprised him most about humanity. He answered,
“Man sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.
A funeral breaks us out of this cycle. It reminds us to our eyes and see what is right before us. It causes us to cherish relationships and appreciate blessings that all too quickly can be taken from us.
Second, a funeral reminds us that our life is temporary. I think one of the reasons we don’t like funerals, is because it reminds us that some day we too are going to die. The truth is that we are not guaranteed a single day. Realizing this fact helps us to live more fully. We are reminded that we must not delay in expressing love. We must not put off teaching values to our children. We should enjoy being with those whom we love. We are reminded that we need to forgive quickly and be reconciled fully. We shouldn’t put these things off to some future day because we may not have that future day.
Third, a funeral is good for us because it forces us to consider eternity. It is easy to sidestep questions such as: “Is this all there is?” “What happens after we die?” “Is life really just a mad dash to nowhere?” We can’t sidestep these questions at a funeral because suddenly those questions matter greatly.
At a funeral we are forced to deal with the questions. If life is merely a mad dash to nothingness, we are left with despair. If this is all there is, then what motivation do we have to sacrifice our lives for someone else? If there is no real destination to life, what real value is there in any virtue? Why not just get what you can, in whatever way you can, and just forget about the other guy? Why not just live for the moment because nothing else matters? Sadly, we know people who seem to do just that.
There is another possibility. “What if there is a life beyond the grave?” If there is, that changes our entire perspective on living. Suddenly what we do now matters greatly. This changes how we view death and how we respond to today.
The Bible has stood up under intense scrutiny for centuries. It proclaims a bold and wonderful message. It says we are living now to live again. It tells us that there is a God who created the world and everything in it with a purpose. It tells us that we are valuable and precious to God and He wants to have a relationship with us. It says that there is a right way and a wrong way to live and we will someday give an account for our choices.
In the Bible we read about Jesus. He is not a work of fiction. Outside history books confirm what the Bible says. The Biblical record is one that is recognized as valid and true by anyone who honestly examines the historical record.
In the Bible we see Jesus who claimed (as did his friends and followers) that He was God in human form. Jesus taught brilliantly, lived like no one else, and was a victim of grave injustice. He was executed because he bucked the status quo. We are told that He died willingly and He Himself said that He did it for us. He paid the price for our rebellion. The Bible loudly proclaims that Jesus came back from the dead. History and science have never even come close to being able to prove otherwise. Hundreds saw Jesus alive after He had died. The evidence for His resurrection is compelling and people were radically and permanently changed (then and now) because they were convinced He had come back from the dead. It was this Jesus who told us,
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”
5 “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. (John 14:1-6)
The Bible tells us not only that there is life beyond the grave; but also that we can know life after death if we will truly acknowledge Christ as our true King and only Savior. It is a bold promise. It says we should live differently now because what we do here matters forever. Justice will be done. Sacrifices do have value. Death need not be feared.
This may seem like a depressing place to be tonight. However, this is a night when we are reminded of hope, of blessing, and are challenged to savor life and the people who share that life with us. Tonight we are reminded that there is only One way to life beyond the grave – it is through Jesus.
Tonight we are challenged to stop playing at faith and truly begin to follow Christ. We are urged to take stock of our lives. It’s time to hug those people we love and find a way to express that love. It is a time to take a firm hold of the grace of God which leads to eternal life.
This is not a “waste of time” unless you aren’t paying attention. If you are paying attention, then I say with all due respect, Maude was wrong on this one. We need this time together.
So tonight we remember, we grieve, we hope, we believe, and we move forward from this place as people who hopefully have a new outlook on life. And even in the midst of loss we look forward to the day when we will see Maude again . . . in that place that Christ alone has prepared for her . . . and for anyone who will put their trust in Him.
Before I conclude in prayer I want you to know that the family will remain after the service to visit with anyone who would like to remain. They would enjoy having you share your memories with them.
Let’s pray together.
Our Father, thank you for this opportunity to remember Maude’s life and influence. Most of the people here have been touched by her in some way. We thank you for her blessing in our lives.
Thank you also for reminding us of the hope that is ours because of Jesus. It would be such a sad day if we did not know of life beyond the grave through Christ. We are grateful that Maude put her trust in you. We are grateful that because of this fact we know she is now in your presence enjoying that life to which we do not understand but aspire to enjoy. Help those here this day who have not yet come to faith. Draw them to You; we want to know that we will see them in Heaven also.
Please grant comfort to Mark and his family. Grant sharp memories and deep gratitude for what he was given in Maude. Grant Him comfort through your promises.
Thank you for this reminder of the things that are truly important in life. Open our eyes to the richness of the relationships around us. Help us to cherish those whom we should cherish.
Hold us tight dear savior. Hold us and lead us until that time when we too step into your presence and experience your love in all its fullness.