And we could never have comfort outside of your holy word so open this source of comfort to us through your Holy Spirit and send him to us as you have said, so that we may be supported by him in your ways and when the last hour nears we may set out on the journey to your heavenly house. Amen.
Text: Daniel 12,3
Dear sad mourning friends and Christians in the Lord! — We stand here today with misty eyes and pain-ravaged hearts around the coffin, which contains the rigid and cold remains of our unforgettable beloved father and teacher, whom his lord has led away from the battlefield clothed in splendor as a hero among the heavenly hosts at the age of 75 years, 2 months and 14 days. I believe in confidence that the beloved congregation members here, and those near and far, those beloved brothers in ministerial office with me, his humble student, will raise our voices as one in the call of the prophet Elisha, 2 Kings 2: My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horseman. Thus cried Elisha to his beloved teacher as God took him from his duties as leader and transported him to heaven in a chariot of fire amid the storm. As I received this sorrowful report of death to me it's as if this scene is being repeated before our eyes. The prophet of God gives here two names: 1. he calls him a true,caring father. 2. a brave and fearless hero. Should I begin by taking each of these two descriptions as they apply to the beloved and reverend old man, when would I ever be finished? I also consider it unnecessary, especially since I consider myself far too humble and unworthy to set forth the significance of his individual works and writings. I may only remind you of his true fatherly nature, we, who received the cup in communion with Christ from him and who were enfolded in the bossom of his church. We, who sat at his feet in confirmation instruction and who heard the holy divine truth from his mouth; for all of us, on whose head he placed his sacred hand on various important occasions, how quieting was his true fatherly sentiment. We, who in our physical need and
|our spiritual challenges found advice and healing comfort from him on our sickbeds and our deathbeds, and now those people, who have grown old with me over the past 40 years since he came here to America, say — could we find any better meaning for the word father? How fatherly he guided his scholars and students, not only to useful futures but to godly holiness whereby he himself shined as sterling example. Oh, let that give heart to us all! How shall I present this? How should I speak of this brave and fearlessly heroic courage? Elisha called his master "the chariot of Israel and its horseman," comparing him with the brave heros and fearless defenders of Israel, who led their hosts in battle and to victory against the enemies of their god. Thus his master also pitted himself against all idolatrous and faithless existence in his own people — equipped with a special kind of spirit and power. Now, whoever knew him knows that this, our deceased teacher, when he was clearly convinced by the Word of God of the truth, stood as unmovable as a wall and offered comfort in the face of the storm. — In the first 5 years of his ministry in Erfurt, for which he would be persecuted for his faith, no imprisonment, no bars and chains in the Prussian prison were able to bend his strong spirit. And in the forty years here what vigilance and work, what hardships and dangerous journeys over land and water, what dangerous battles against erroneous, false spirits and against feckless worldly spirits emerged! With the greatest of self-sacrifice and self-denial the overall well being of the church of God stood foremost. Thus we truly have reason to declare: "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horseman." As the Lord God sends his angel and calls such a man, such a fine tool back home, as happened here on the previous Monday evening, as his praying soul was taken from him and triumphantly carried off to heavenly glory and the choir of angels. He has left us as did his true comrades and battle partners, the late Pastor Kindermann a long time ago, and the late Prof. Winkler a year ago on the holy feast of the Pentacost and his beloved son, Rudolph, who died 12 years ago. (I ask) when God does this why is it such a difficult visitation?|
Let us acknowledge in penance that it has been earned. — Elisha never saw him again, his beloved teacher, and so he tore his garments in misery and pain. Is it any different for us? Indeed, the pain, which we have encountered, and the tears which we have shed, are well justified. God himself said (Isaiah 30: 20, 21) when he wishes to make a well-meaning promise to his people: "He will no longer allow your teacher to fly away, rather your eyes will see your teacher. And your ears will hear the word behind you saying: This is the way; follow it, going neither right or left of it."
But now in our bereavement, how shall we create our comfort? How shall we raise ourselves up? God's children always take their refuge in His Word. Through Daniel he preaches to us in our text of the
I. Of the absolute certainly of this resurrection.
I. The absolute certainly of the resurrection of all flesh is given and assured to us from the mouth of divine wisdom. Who will doubt this! Many, who lie sleeping beneath the earth, will awaken. We also have additional evidence from holy scripture, for example when Martha answered the Lord Jesus: I know well that he (Lazarus) will rise again on the last day. There was also the proof of Lazarus' resurrection, and of the youth of Nain, and the little daughter of Jairi, and especially in examples of the holy scripture when Elisha awoke the son of the Sunamite, Petrus the Tabean, Paulus the Eutishean. Further on the resurrection of our savior, as he had previously announced: Let the sepulchre be opened and on the third day I will raise him up. After this had happened it was proclaimed by the angel at the gravesite. However with Christ's resurrection also depends our resurrection. We are the limbs and he is our head. As a living head cannot have dead limbs, so must we live as limbs of Christ. On this Our Lord Christ says: " I live and you too shall live." This is supported also by faithful Job when he says: "I know that my savior lives, and he will raise me up from the earth, etc."
Oh, how joyously faith can declare: "Because you rose from the dead we may be the limbs."
At the moment of death looking to him we sing: "Jesus, who lives as my savior, I too will look to that life, be where my savior hovers; so why then should I be afraid? Let the head have its limb, which does not march on of its own accord."
II. How will resurrection take place?
It is to nothing other than quiet and peace which the just have taken themselves; coming to peace and quieting them in their chambers. They quietly abide in proud peace, therefore do not boast, O Death, oh image of horror; we do not fear your thorn (not the sharpness of your sickle), rather the people of God sing in faith: "Death with its power is nothing to me; he is a dead image even though he is wild."
Our good teacher, our true spiritual caregiver has also gone to this splendor and it is as if he is calling to us for we are the ones left behind, looking to him with deep mourning: Oh! I have seen each great wonder and now I am beautifully adorned in the white mantel of honor with the golden crown; I stand before God's throne, experience joy for no end can take it away."
In closing there are still a couple words for us all, the beloved ones left behind, the church and congregation members, the young people and the old, and for us, the beloved brothers in holy office; think of the words in Hebrews 13: "Think of our teacher, who spoke the word of God to us; the end has been shown to him, let us follow him in faith." I swear here for the sake of Christ, before the cold remains of our beloved spiritual father, who has gone to heavenly peace and has achieved the crown of honor — let us extend our hands in an unbreakable bond so that we may walk in his footsteps and follow his godly, noble example, each in accordance with his gifts as have been extolled by a generous God, that we remain true and steadfast in holy solemnity and zeal to the sacred teachings of the Lutheran Church, as he himself had brought to fruition with great effort in this land; he struck a match, which served to distinguish between good and evil.
Further let us imitate his zeal against all sinful and easy existence. Oh loving friends and brothers in Christ! We know it well enough and I need not say how he inclined himself like a wall against this wild storm and bravely faced the enemy.
Will we now give way to earthly teaching and allow the world spirit to have free usury? God protect us in his grace!
Or shall we allow the first prayer to come to fulfillment: through pure teaching and a godly life how can we fail? If we unite in strength we will be unconquerable; thus speaks our Lord Christ: "The gates of hell will not reign over his church." However if we deviate from this and are carried away, we are nothing other than chaff, which is robbed by the wind.
Now our dear teacher is going home and he may be the first to experience the joy (in this world he had little joy) as we
Text provided by the Reu Memorial Library, Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa - Call No. BX8080.G72 G7
Imaging and Translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks
Edited January 19, 2006