Kept in Christ
Funeral Sermon for Joan E. Shipp
December 29, 1927 – February 11, 2012
Family and friends of Joan, grace to you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Our text for today is from Psalm 121 verse 8, The Lord will keep, your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.
Joan E. (VonBehren) Shipp was born December 29, 1927 in Detroit, MI a daughter of Harry and Frances C. (Buehler) VonBehren. She married Orville T. Shipp, March 10, 1946 at Zion Lutheran Church Chestnut, IL. Joan was a homemaker and also worked at Dickey-john Corp starting at the Chatham facility for three years then moving to the present facility in Auburn, IL, until she retired in 1985 with many fond memories. Joan was a member of the Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Girard, IL where she was a Sunday School teacher for many years and later in life her and her husband did volunteer work making up Braille books for the blind at Zion Lutheran Church in Carlinville, IL. Joan loved her red geraniums that she planted every spring.
Joan was preceded in death by her husband Orville T. Shipp on 1/6/2011, her parents, two grandchildren and one great grandchild. She is survived by her two daughters, Susan K. (Keith) Coe of Virden, IL, Linda Williams of Springfield, IL, two sons, Michael D. (Linda) Shipp of Virden, IL and Richard A. (Wanda) Shipp of Jacksonville, IL, 14 grandchildren, 26 great grandchildren, 3 great grandchildren, her twin sister, Rosemary (George) Jones of Oreana, IL and her brother, Leland "Bud" (Shirley) VonBehren of Alton, IL.
It is nearly impossible to evaluate the life of someone eighty four years old, who was married at eighteen, and lived to see sixty five years of married life. They raised four children.
How would one describe Joan? I suppose there are lots of words we could use. Words like loving or dedicated. Cheerful or faithful. I think I would use the word motherly. I’m sure each of you have your own descriptions.
It is also important to recognize that her life was not all roses and knitting. Their early years where filled with hard work and not much pay. She could get discouraged and frustrated, even angry sometimes. Joan was certainly a sinner, as are we all.
So what made things make sense for her? How did she survive the good times and bad, the lifetime of experiences that make up her story? The answer lies in her Baptism. She was baptized into Christ. When that happened, everything changed for Joan. She was adopted into another family, a family far more wondrous than anything here on earth.
We hear in Psalm 121 about a journey. Originally the Psalm was a traveling song. It was a song that the children of Israel would sing when they were to begin a journey. The song tells the story of how the first thing the Israelites would do is lift up their eyes and see that the beginning and end of the journey was in God.
God is the one who would not leave her alone on these many travels. He does not sleep. He is her keeper. He is the one who kept her safe in so many trials and tribulations. Every step of her life, God was there. Beginning, middle and end.
I was blessed to visit Joan many times before her illness got so severe. So I know that God was still with her, blessing her, giving Joan His own Son’s body and blood for the forgiveness of sins. Every time she heard the Gospel lesson she would respond, ‘Oh – that is beautiful.’ When either I or my daughters would sing a hymn she would say, ‘One more, please, One more.’ I can hear her saying it even now. The Gospel is beautiful.
And dear friends, Joan is now reunited with our Lord, and with Orville, with her parents, her two grandchildren, and a great-grandchild who have gone before us and died in the faith. She heard the voice of Her Savior again Saturday morning as He said to her, “Come, dear sister and daughter, come and rise up.”
We too will rise again and see our Lord and all these loved ones. Perhaps Job put it best so long ago when he wrote,
For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me! Job 19:25–27
The day is coming, beloved, when Christ will come again. Until that time, we weep at losing Joan. She has been our friend and mother and grandmother for many years. But we weep with hope. Because Christ is risen from the dead, Joan and all who have gone before us in faith will rise as well. It is okay. Jesus Himself wept at the death of His friend, Lazarus. But weep with hope. Your weeping will come to an end. This world will be left behind. There will be joy and rest that only He can give us.
So rest well, Joan. Rest until we are reunited again in heaven. Rest well, until we rise again with you.
In the name of Jesus. Amen.