We gather this afternoon to remember the life and mourn the loss of Leah D. Breckon. Today we wish to give thanks for the blessing that has come from Leah’s life. We also want to look beyond the heartache of death to the hope that comes through Jesus Christ alone.
We look for comfort in the time of loss from the Word of God.
For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our rebellious acts as far away from us as the east is from the west. The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he understands how weak we are; he knows we are only dust. Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. The wind blows, and we are gone as though we had never been here. But the love of the LORD remains forever with those who fear him. His salvation extends to the children’s children of those who are faithful to his covenant, of those who obey his commandments! Psalm 103:11 through Psalm 103:18 (NLT)
2 Cor. 5 (from the Message)
We know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven God-made, not hand made and we’ll never have to relocate our tents again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead, He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.
That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.
Will you pray with me?
Gracious Father, today we come to you with sadness mixed with joy. We are saddened by our loss. We didn’t want Leah to suffer but we sure weren’t ready to let her go. But we also come to you with joy at the opportunity to remember and celebrate Leah’s life.
We ask for your help today. Help us to see beyond this temporal world. Help us to find hope in the midst of our sadness. Grant us your comforting presence in our midst today for we ask it in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Leah D. Breckon was born on December 12,1918 in Crookston, Minnesota to Clarence and Ethel Pensinger Hornbaker.
Leah grew up on a farm and attended school through 8th grade. She used to love the summer barn dances.
When her family moved to Illinois she began working on a farm where she met and fell in love with one of the other farm hands, James H. Breckon. They were married on August 21, 1936. A little over a month ago they celebrated their 67th anniversary.
The Breckons lived in Moline for nine years while James worked for John Deere and Leah worked at the Kresge Store.
In 1948 they moved to Roseville where they met many wonderful friends who have remained their dearest friends over the years. Leah was a member of the Roseville United Methodist Church and the Point Pleasant Women’s Club.
The Breckon’s moved to Blandinsville in 1977. In addition to being a farm wife, Leah also worked as a sales representative for Dunsworth Office Supply and Albee’s Florist, both of Macomb.
Leah died on Saturday, September 20th after suffering from pancreatic cancer.
Leah is survived by her husband , James H. Breckon
Three Sons: James C Breckon and his wife Edie (Eddie) of Bonner Springs KS.
Steven D. Breckon and his wife Janet of Elvaston, IL.
Bruce L. Breckon and his wife Catherine of Macomb,
Six brothers and sisters: Beulah Hobbs of Walnut Grove, Mildred Hobbs of Bushnell, Ray (Nancy) Hornbaker of Ft. Myers FL.; Marion Hendrickson of Colchester; Ruth (husband Arlo) Harper of Good Hope,
And Marvin Hornbaker of Blandinsville.
- Cindy (Husband Jim) Mutchie
- Curtis (wife Dixie) Breckon
- Cheryl (husband John) Steffy
- Brent (wife Kristy) Breckon
- Paul (wife Kim) Breckon
- Diane Breckon
- Matthew (wife Jennifer) Breckon
- Martha (husband Jason) Swiger
And 20 great-grandchildren.
Leah Breckon was a people person. She enjoyed other people, she cared for other people and she gave to other people.
Leah spent most of her life in a home filled with men. She was remarkable in her ability to adapt to the interests and appetites of these men. They would dress animals on the kitchen floor and hand her newly dressed animals to cook for them. One time they brought home 120 rabbits! She even went hunting with James . . . she didn’t hunt but she sure enjoyed the company.
Leah loved being a farm wife. She loved to garden and enjoyed canning pickles, tomatos, peaches and more. She loved flowers and just a couple of weeks ago in her weakened state she was out checking on her flowers. When she was so ill the family thought she would die last May, she still was able to give instructions about taking care of her roses.
Leah helped in all the farm duties. She drove trucks, tractors, and even helped with the cattle drive each fall as they marched their livestock (around 150-160 animals) down route 67.
Leah enjoyed cooking for all the men who would gather to put up hay. People used to love to come work at the Breckon’s because Leah had such a great lunch and provided a great snack mid-afternoon. One time she baked a huge chocolate cake and cut half of the cake into pieces for all the men. The cake went around the table and by the time it got back to James he cut another piece and sent it around the table again! The ladies never found out how good the cake was.
Many people will remember her legendary Chocolate cake, her terrific Thanksgiving dinners, her great sweet pickles, Strawberry Shortcake and her amazing ability to cook almost anything.
One day Steve brought home some wild grapes from the hedgerow and wanted to know if mom would make some grape jelly. She sent Steve out for more grapes and made him some wonderful jelly. When the boys marveled at Grandma’s homemade ketchup Leah had the boys save up ketchup bottles for a year and the next year made them homemade ketchup.
Leah would cook you whatever you enjoyed eating. She’d bake several dozen cookies at a time and on occasion found them eaten before supper time.
Leah was not one-dimensional. She was a talented seamstress and used to make the boys clothes when they were younger. She made an afghan and a quilt for all her children and Grandchildren and made baby quilts for all the great-grandchildren.
Leah loved to play cards and enjoyed being part of a Pitch club. She enjoyed Square dancing, playing games, music and was an avid reader. She read magazines and all different kinds of books from John Grisham to Zane Grey. She loved crossword puzzles and enjoyed watching movies. Leah was a well-rounded woman.
Leah loved to travel. She and James traveled to 47 of the 50 United States, including Alaska (where there were for many weeks) and Hawaii. She loved life.
Most of all, Leah loved people. She looked out for anyone who needed help. She was willing to take responsibility for those others might forget. She drove neighbors to town, fixed the hair of one neighbor and looked in on those who were left alone. Once she even took in neighbor children who lost their home in a fire. She was quick to pitch in on a project and was known by everyone as a true friend.
Leah had many friends she cherished over the years. There were her dear friends from the Methodist Church in Roseville and a group of friends she and James made in Moline. They kept in touch with all of these friends over the years.
There was no one she loved more than her family. She had a treasure and a partner in her husband and she knew it, and appreciated it.
She loved her brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews. She worked hard to make sure they all kept in touch. She looked forward to their monthly get-togethers.
She could name all 20 Great-Grandchildren (in addition to all the Presidents). On their 67th anniversary last month she told her children that the only thing she wanted was a simple gathering with all her family. She was never more content than when her family was in the house. She was proud of her boys, enjoyed spending time with her grandchildren, and never tired of holding a new great-grandchild.
Diane talks about the time Grandma took to teach her how to sew, crochet, and quilt. Leah loved to pass on what she knew to her family. Her greatest gift may have been her values. She taught her family that all people deserved respect, life was to be enjoyed and hard work was good for you. She taught by her words and by her example.
There is perhaps no more appropriate passage of Scripture for Leah Breckon than Proverbs 31:
A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
Today we do rise and call Leah Breckon blessed and we pray for God to welcome her into His kingdom with joy.
The apostle Paul told the Thessalonians that he did not want them to “grieve like the rest of men who have no hope.” For most people, death is a deep chasm. Even though they may say otherwise, they really do suspect that there is nothing beyond death. This naturally increases our sorrow in times of loss.
Paul believed there was a reason for hope even in the time of sorrow. That hope was anchored in Jesus. The Bible proclaims the resurrection of Christ. Many scholars have made a serious attempt to examine the evidence for the resurrection believing they could show the resurrection to be fantasy rather than reality. All of those scholars failed in their endeavor and have gained a new respect for the witness of God’s Word. Most of them became followers of Jesus themselves.
Jesus told us, “I am the resurrection and the life, He who believes in me will live even though He dies.” He told us that He was going to prepare a place for us so that we could be with Him always.
These are nice sounding words. And it would be tempting to believe that that is all they were . . . except for the resurrection of Jesus. That one act of history changes everything.
The resurrection of Christ proved that there was life beyond the grave. The resurrection of Jesus proved that He was who He said He was, the Son of God who gave His life willingly as a payment for our sin.
Now, I must be clear. The Bible never says that everyone will go to Heaven. In fact, the message of the Bible is that there is a fate that is worse than death . . .it is dying apart from Christ.
The Bible tells us that only those who put their confidence in and surrender their lives to Jesus and the work He did on the cross will be granted life in Heaven.
You have heard a number of great things about Leah Breckon. She was a fine woman. She lived life with endurance, patience and character. But being better than most people can’t get us into Heaven. Only Jesus can do that.
Leah didn’t go to church much these last years. I wish she had because I think it would have enriched her life even more. But I suspect Leah had a deep faith that came from her early years and the years she spent in Roseville. In the book of James the apostle said, “show me your faith by your words, and I’ll show you my faith by what I do.” James was not saying we can be saved by being good. He meant that people who have Christ in their heart reveal it by the way that they live.
I think I see Christ shining through the life of Leah Breckon. She marveled at God’s creation. She loved God’s people. She revealed Christ’s love in her compassion to others. Because of this I come to this day hopefully. I believe she has gone home to be with her Lord.
The thought of Leah living on takes some of the edge off our grief. The Bible talks about Heaven as a place that is free of sorrow and sadness. It is a place more wonderful than we can imagine. A place more beautiful than anything we have ever seen. It is a place that is more precious than holding your child in your arms. Heaven is home in its most complete sense.
Even as I say this I remind you that Paul did not tell us not to grieve . . . he told us not to grieve like the rest of men who have no hope.
There is nothing unfaithful about tears. Tears are appropriate. Author Max Lucado writes,
Those tiny drops of humanity. Those round, wet balls of fluid that tumble from our eyes, creep down our cheeks, and splash on the floor of our hearts. They are always present at such times. They should be, that’s their job. They are miniature messengers; on call twenty-four hours a day to substitute for crippled words. They drip, drop, and pour from the corner of our souls, carrying with them the deepest emotions we possess. They tumble down our faces with announcements that range from the most blissful joy to darkest despair.
The principle is simple; when words are most empty, tears are most apt.
A tearstain on a letter says much more than the sum of all its words. A tear falling on a casket says what a spoken farewell never could. What summons a mother’s compassion and concern more quickly than a tear on a child’s cheek? What gives more support than a sympathetic tear on the face of a friend?
That task, my friend, was left for the tears.
Grief is normal and appropriate. Do not be embarrassed by your grief . . . it testifies to your love.
There will be difficult days. Grief does not cease after the funeral . . .it barely begins. When someone has meant as much to you as Leah Breckon has meant to her family and friends, you aren’t going to forget. You don’t want to forget. Your greatest fear is that you will forget. Everywhere you turn you are going to see reminders that she is gone. And those reminders will hurt.
- Every time you are playing cards and someone says, “You are bringing up the old cows tail” you will remember.
- Every time you say, “Well bless her heart” or “that’s just ducky” or “land of Goshen!” you will remember.
- Every time you have a piece of chocolate cake, eat fried chicken or strawberry shortcake, you will remember.
- Every time you hold that special afghan or quilt, you will remember.
At first, those memories may bring tears. Eventually, those reminders will bring wonderful smiles that testify of the blessing you’ve had.
I encourage you to grieve. Express your sadness, share your stories, count your blessings, do not apologize for your tears . . .they are a testament of your love.
I also encourage you to look beyond this life. Make your own faith sure. Look at the facts of the resurrection. Look at the person and work of Christ. Make sure He is worth following . . . and then follow Him and trust Him fully.
In the tough times, think about that future day when those who trust in Christ will meet again in His home. Dwell on the fact of the resurrection and hold tight to the Lord’s promise that “all who live and believe in him, will live even though they die”.
And who knows. Maybe when we get to Heaven we will find Leah standing at the door with a piece of her famous chocolate cake. Don’t be surprised if it tastes even better than it did before.
Let’s pray together.
Our Father, we thank you for blessing us with the life of Leah Breckon. She has enriched us and blessed us.
We ask for several things today. First, we ask you to welcome Leah into your presence. We ask you to extend your mercy and love to her.
We also ask that you help us. Help us to believe, help us to trust, help us to grieve, help us to hope.
And we pray today especially for James. After 67 years his life has become one with Leah’s. His loss is more profound than we can imagine or understand. You understand. We ask you to strengthen James. Help him as he lives out his days. Help him to find joy even in his loneliness. Help him to find the strength that comes from you alone.
Finally, we ask you to help us to carry on where Leah left off. Help us to love life as she did. Help us to cherish people. Help us to trust you.
We ask these things in Jesus’ name Amen.