Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Inez Bjorkman April 21, 1923 - April 21, 2008

At the top of this page, next to Inez’s name are her birth date and the date of her death. In between is a “dash.”

I can’t let Inez’s life be summed up by a simple dash, because God puts a lot of love, grace, and blessing in that “dash.” And that was certainly true for Inez, as all of you could willingly attest to.
Inez’s “dash” includes many wonderful memories, songs, travels, family and friends. The “dash” of Inez’s life is to be celebrated and remember by us – it is her legacy to us.

Inez loved life and loves Jesus Christ. I say “loves” because even though Inez is not here with us now, she is living with Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ loves Inez with an everlasting love, a love so deep and profound that He died on a cross so that Inez could live forever. And Inez does lives forever now in the place that Christ prepared for her, where Christ prepares a place for all of us who have faith in Him.

From practically the beginning of her life, Inez knew the love of Christ in her life. Her mom and dad loved her as did her brothers and sisters. That kind of love can only come from God – unconditional, profound and deep. You see, the love of God is known to all of us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. His love for us is the mold, the model, the preeminent example for our love for each other. Inez could love because God first loved her. God’s love for us in Christ makes us who we are and fills our “dash.”

I was honored to know Inez only during her last days of sojourn here on this earth. But even in that short time, I could see passion and joy in Inez’s life.

One of her passions was travel, as some of you shared with me. Travel through the United States and Europe were highlights of Inez’s “dash.” She never let obstacles get her down and I think that was because of the love of Christ. She didn’t worry about things. Wherever she went, her joy and her smile shared the love of Christ with other people.

She lived the love of Christ – as summed up by Emily Smith - “Treat others the same way that you want others to treat you. Surround yourself with family and friends, because they are the ones who will share your joy in the good times and comfort you in the hard times.”

Inez’s “dash” included a lot of good times and hard times. Living through the Great Depression and World War II included some of those “hard times.” But the good times far outweighed those hard times, good times spent with family and friends – laughing and loving, even while eating lutefisk!

Music also was a large part of Inez’s dash. We have sung some favorite hymns of Inez already this afternoon. George and faith shared with me a song lyric that especially sums up Inez’s “dash”:

I will come to you in the silence; I will lift you from all your fear
You will hear my voice, I claim you as my choice, Be still and know I am here.
Do not be afraid, I am with you. I have called you each by name.
Come and follow me, I will bring you home; I love you and you are mine.

Music touches all of our lives in many and various ways. What is Christmas without the song “Silent Night”? What is the Fourth of July without the “Star Spangled Banner”? For the World War II generation, the music of Glenn Miller plays a special part in their memories of that time of their lives. Each of us has a “soundtrack” to our “dash.”

The music that was so loved by Inez and such a large part of her “dash” was music that sung of her savior, Jesus Christ! God’s love for Inez was shown in so many ways, but so powerfully in music. And that is what she is enjoying right now.

God promises us that we will see Him face to face in heaven and that song will be a large part of the heavenly experience. In the Book of Revelation – the Apostle John’s glimpse into heaven – there are seven songs that he hears sung by the citizens of paradise. I don’t believe that is all that we will do in heaven, but it is certainly a part of the heavenly experience and one that Inez looked forward to.

I would be remiss if I didn’t share with you that Inez also loved her work. She spent nearly half her life at Graber Olive House and considered the people she worked with not just fellow employees, but family. This, too, is part of the love of God for us. For God created all of us to enjoy “work” – doing things with our hands and lives, taking care of creation. Inez was able to do this in a very special and satisfying way at Graber’s.

Travel, music, work. All these made up the “dash” of Inez Bjorkman. And we have been given a legacy of love and grace from God through Inez’s “dash.”

It may seem like just a simple thing – the dash between the dates of our birth and our death. But to those who know us and love us that dash means a lifetime of love, faith, and grace. It is my prayer that Inez’s “dash” will be a source of blessed memories and grace to you as you live out your own “dash.”

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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