Summary of sermon by Erlo Stegen, 21 Dec 2014, Funeral of Mrs Edith Newlands – photos below
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
(Thokozani Mbanjwa was very close to Mr and Mrs Newlands, and spoke on behalf of the co-workers: As she shared with him, while being sick, she said that we must never slacken and never lower God’s standards. Even when we visited her, we couldn’t really see that she was ill. She was so full of Christ’s life. And she shared with us, and encouraged us that we must persevere. Then she shared about heaven and as she shared about heaven you could see the joy in her face.)
For the past 2-3 years young men from all walks of life have come to the mission for help, to be delivered from drugs, and many other addictions. Mrs Edith Newlands spent hours with them, counselling them, taking the services, even when she was too weak to go to the hall. She told them never, never to lower God’s standards, to live in purity and holiness. Do not water down the Gospel. The Lord has opened His windows and doors to us to be enabled us to live victoriously. She repeated it again and again. She was a true missionary. Three days before her home-going (as Christians don’t die, they fall asleep), one of her children asked her to give her something to hold on to for the dark days ahead. Without hesitation she said, ‘The Lord is my light and salvation’; (Ps 27:1). A few minutes before passing home, Esther read to her about the new earth and new Jerusalem arrayed like a bride; how there would be no more death and that the former things have passed away. Up until then she had not spoken for a few days and her eyes were closed. But then she was visibly excited and her eyes opened and then she gave her last breath and passed into glory!
In the early days there were often very lean days for Joe and Edith. It was during a time like this that there was very little to eat. Edith prepared a very simple meal. They sat down to eat with the children and Joe prayed. One of the children pulled up her nose and stated that she could not eat such food. Edith immediately reprimanded her saying, ‘your father has prayed for the food. Now we should eat it, and always accept with gratitude that which God sees fit to give’.
Just a few thoughts on this word. According to Ps 27:1, ‘The Lord is my light and salvation’. King David’s subjects called him “the light of Israel” (2Sam 21:17). And he was indeed a burning and shining light to Israel. But he owes that shining, just as the moon does, to a borrowed light. The Lord is my light and my salvation, in whom I am safe and in whom I shall be saved. He is the strength of my life as well. Not only the protector of my exposed life, but the strength of my frail, weak life. That is an expression of dependence on the Lord our God. And it is the hope in Divine deliverance, for whatever may come our way.
The confidence of the Psalmist lies in the Lord. He had experienced the Lord’s presence and described it as his light and stronghold. That pertains to the experience of salvation and the promise of victory that He has promised to His people. God is the stronghold of His people because He is their strength. The intimate protection of God gives confidence and banishes fear, regardless of how great our adversaries. We look to the Lord and in His greatness our problems and adversaries become insignificant.
Opposition and outright war did not touch him because his heart was strengthened by the Lord. The psalmist longs for God’s temple and expresses the intensity of his seeking after God Himself. He desires to dwell in the temple of God for the rest of his life, and to gaze on the Lord’s beauty.
May we hold onto this word and make it our own.
Photos of funeral of Mrs Edith Newlands