“A Christmas Carol” (John 6:51-58)

Funeral Service
Saturday, August 14, 2021

“A Christmas Carol” (John 6:51-58)

One of the first things you notice about Carol’s obituary is the date of her birth: December 25, 1940. Carol was born on Christmas Day! It was like God was sending us a nice Christmas present that we all could enjoy for the next 80+ years. She was a true “Christmas Carol,” and the music was sweet indeed!

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Published in: on August 14, 2021 at 7:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Feasting and Fellowship Forever” (Isaiah 25:6-9; Revelation 7:9-17)

Funeral Service
Thursday, January 21, 2021

“Feasting and Fellowship Forever” (Isaiah 25:6-9; Revelation 7:9-17)

Our brother Ron has died, and we feel the loss. And especially you, John, for Ron was not only your brother in Christ, he was also your father in the flesh. But for all of us who knew him, we will miss Ron. For our congregation here at St. Matthew’s, Ron was a reliable and faithful presence, coming to church whenever he was physically able, stationed back there in his wheelchair, where I would bring him Holy Communion. And before he became wheelchair-bound, even when he was in not-great health, Ron helped out in whatever way he could, like working at our Men’s Club barbecue. That was the kind of heart he had.

Barb and Del, you did so much for Ron, in the way that you have cared for Ron and John’s practical needs. And for me as a pastor and you as caregivers, there were several times when we had to rush to this or that hospital, thinking this might be the end for Ron. But each time, that tough old bird pulled through. It wasn’t his time yet. But now that time has arrived. And we will miss him.

These last months have been especially tough for us, and they were even more so for Ron. I was last able to go visit Ron in September, but then the Covid restrictions tightened at hospitals and nursing homes, and I couldn’t get in to see him since. Even you, John, could not get in to see him. But think of how that must have been for Ron himself. The isolation. Being cut off from friends and family, while his health was declining. And as his health declined, Ron wasn’t able to eat and keep his strength up. He kept losing weight. Then finally, it all became too much for his weakened body to take. A sad end to a good long life. And so here we are today.

But dear friends, today I want to assure you that this is not the end of the story for Ron Benear! On the contrary, this is only the beginning! For according to our Lord’s promise, Ron has gone from hunger and isolation to “Feasting and Fellowship Forever.”

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Published in: on January 21, 2021 at 8:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“I Will Not Leave You as Orphans” (John 14:1-6, 18-19)

Funeral Service
Friday, May 22, 2020

“I Will Not Leave You as Orphans” (John 14:1-6, 18-19)

It was a day in May of 1996. And on that day my mother, Marjorie Henrickson, died. My father had died some years earlier, and now my mother died. I realized on that day that now I was truly an orphan. The next morning was a Sunday, and the Holy Gospel for that day, which I had prepared to preach on, was the passage from John 14 in which Jesus says, “I will not leave you as orphans.” Suddenly that text became extra meaningful for me.

Fast forward to a day in May of 2020. On that day your mother, Mary Heineman, died. Your father had died some years earlier. And now your mother has died. Now you her children are truly orphans. And it just so happens that the Holy Gospel from this past Sunday is that same passage from John 14 where Jesus says, “I will not leave you as orphans.” Today I pray that this text becomes extra meaningful for you as well. “I Will Not Leave You as Orphans.”

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Published in: on May 22, 2020 at 7:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Remembering Betty” (Isaiah 43:1-3a, 25; Hebrews 10:11-25; Luke 23:33, 39-43)

Funeral Service
March 10, 2020

“Remembering Betty” (Isaiah 43:1-3a, 25; Hebrews 10:11-25; Luke 23:33, 39-43)

You know, it’s funny, sometimes, what we remember–and what we don’t remember. Oftentimes that’s the case with how we remember someone who has recently died. We tend to focus on that person only as they were in their last few months or their last couple of years. Take, for example, our dear friend and sister, Betty. What’s most recent in our memory of her is how she was in declining health these last few years, especially the last few months. We think about how her memory was going, and so on. But there’s so much more to remember about Betty than that.

How do we remember Betty here at St. Matthew’s? I remember when I first met her, oh, probably about twelve years ago. She was not a member of our church at that time, but one of our members had talked to her, and recommended St. Matthew’s. So I had the opportunity to go visit Betty when she was living over here on Benham Street. I found out that Betty had been a Lutheran, having been confirmed many years ago in St. Louis, but she had been away from church for a long time. So I then proceeded to re-catechize Betty over the next few weeks, and soon she became a member of our congregation.

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Published in: on March 10, 2020 at 9:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“From the Church Militant to the Church Triumphant” (2 Timothy 4:6-8, 18; Revelation 7:2-17)

Funeral Service
Sunday, November 25, 2018

“From the Church Militant to the Church Triumphant” (2 Timothy 4:6-8, 18; Revelation 7:2-17)

Today we remember our dear brother, Bill McBride. Some of you called him “Bucky.” I always called him “Bill.” Or maybe you called him “Dad” or “Grandpa,” because he was that, too. You could also call him “Soldier,” because he was proud of that part of his life, as well.

As you’ve seen in the obituaries, Bill McBride proudly served his country in the U.S. Army: 37th Field Artillery Unit, Second Indianhead Division, during the Korean War. Good work, soldier! And for decades after Korea, Bill was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Yes, if you got to know Bill, you knew that was a big part of his life, serving in the military. When I’d visit him in his home, I could see various memorabilia of his service to our country.

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Published in: on November 25, 2018 at 7:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“A Citizenship Even Bigger than Texas” (Hebrews 11:13-16; John 14:1-6; Philippians 3:20-21)

Funeral Service
Saturday, October 13, 2018

“A Citizenship Even Bigger than Texas” (Hebrews 11:13-16; John 14:1-6; Philippians 3:20-21)

His name was “Emerick,” but everybody called him “Tex.” That was our brother Emerick “Tex” Labus. He went by “Tex” for as long as I’ve known him, and that’s been over ten years. Even though he lived here in Missouri for I don’t know how long, people still called him Tex. I guess you can take the boy out of Texas, but you can’t take the Texas out of the boy.

I’ve observed over the years that people from Texas are very proud of being from Texas. And they’ll let you know it. Maybe you’ve noticed that too. They’ll talk about how Texas once was its own country, before it joined the United States. They’ll tell you about how Texas is #1 in this or #1 in that. About how everything is bigger in Texas.

And, well, maybe Texas does have a lot to be proud of, I don’t know. But we do know that for our brother Emerick, he was happy to be called “Tex.” He was always a Texan, even while he lived here in Missouri.

But today I want to tell you about another identity Tex had. Another citizenship. Another homeland. One far greater and better than even being from Texas. And now after Missouri, this will be his next stop. His eternal homeland. Because Tex had “A Citizenship Even Bigger than Texas.”

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Published in: on October 13, 2018 at 8:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Invited to the Feast” (Isaiah 25:6-9)

Funeral Service
Friday, October 13, 2017

“Invited to the Feast” (Isaiah 25:6-9)

There’s a big feast coming, and Bob is invited! In fact, his seat is already guaranteed. There’s a big feast coming, and you are invited too. That’s what I want to tell you about today, that we have been “Invited to the Feast.”

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Published in: on October 13, 2017 at 8:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Last Enemy to Be Destroyed Is Death” (1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 51-57)

Funeral Service
Monday, August 14, 2017

“The Last Enemy to Be Destroyed Is Death” (1 Corinthians 15:20-26, 51-57)

Over 25 years as a pastor, I have had a number of World War II veterans as members of the congregations I have served. Homer Rouggly was one of them. In fact, Homer Rouggly might well be the last one that I will have the honor of laying to rest. That “Greatest Generation” is quickly passing away, and they were quite a crew.

By the way, for a number of years I had two World War II veterans sitting near each other in the pews at St. Matthew’s: Homer Rouggly and Albert Mertsch. The ironic thing was, they were both World War II veterans, but they had fought on opposite sides, Albert for his native Germany, and Homer for the United States. The fact that they were united as brothers in Christ and fellow members of his church is a testimony to the power of the gospel to reconcile people to God and to one another. Last year Albert died in the faith, and now it’s Homer’s turn.

And so it goes. One after another, the people we’ve known our whole lives slip away from us, and we feel the loss. For you in the Rouggly family, it’s been a double loss this year, first Dorothy in May and now Homer in August. Just three months apart. Married for 70 years, and then going home to the Lord within three months of one another. You who have known them your whole lives, as your father and mother, as your grandfather and grandmother, as great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents even, this is going to leave a void in your lives. But you will have all those wonderful memories to look back on, and that will help. And you will have one another to lean on for support.

Even more, though, you will have the comfort of the gospel of Christ to strengthen you and to give you hope. That is the rock you can rely on that will never let you down. Because of what Jesus Christ did for you and did for Homer, you can have the sure hope of a joyful and eternal future. For in Christ we know that the final outcome has already been decided. The victory has been won. And “The Last Enemy to Be Destroyed Is Death.”

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Published in: on August 14, 2017 at 7:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Created, Redeemed, and Sanctified by the Triune God” (Apostles’ Creed)

Funeral Service
Friday, June 16, 2017

“Created, Redeemed, and Sanctified by the Triune God” (Apostles’ Creed)

Bob, Karen, Michele, friends and family of our dear sister Dottie: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

A Christian funeral service is both a time of sadness and a time of hope. It is a time of sadness, because we will miss our dear loved one. And so we grieve. However, as St. Paul tells the Thessalonians, we grieve, but not as those who have no hope. We do have hope, the only hope that works. For the Christian, our hope is firmly anchored in the goodness and the promises of the triune God. The Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as we just confessed in the Apostles’ Creed: This is where we find the hope to sustain us in the midst of our sadness. And so it is today at this Christian funeral service for our sister Dottie. We mourn her loss, but we also find hope. The basis for our hope is that Dottie was “Created, Redeemed, and Sanctified by the Triune God.”

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Published in: on June 16, 2017 at 4:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Good Shepherd Gives Gifts to His Sheep” (John 10:1-18, 22-30)

Funeral service
Wednesday, May 10, 2017

“The Good Shepherd Gives Gifts to His Sheep” (John 10:1-18, 22-30)

“The forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.” So we just said we believe when we confessed the Apostles’ Creed. This is the faith all Christians believe. This is the faith Dorothy believed. It’s the faith into which she was baptized. “The forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.” These are gifts given us by the Good Shepherd, our Lord Jesus Christ. They are gifts given to Dorothy. They are gifts given to you. The good news today is “The Good Shepherd Gives Gifts to His Sheep.”

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Published in: on May 10, 2017 at 11:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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