“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.


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.”


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.”


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.”


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.”


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.”


Published in: on May 10, 2017 at 11:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“When You Walk through Fire You Shall Not Be Burned” (Isaiah 43:1-7)

Funeral Service
Wednesday, September 7, 2016

“When You Walk through Fire You Shall Not Be Burned” (Isaiah 43:1-7)

“When you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” This is the Lord’s promise to his people. You heard it in the reading from Isaiah 43: “When you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”

“But, but, Pastor,” you say. “There it says that if we go through fire we will not be burned. But here we are at Doris’s funeral, and she went through a fire, that terrible house fire of a month ago, and she was burned. Burned very badly, airlifted to the hospital, and she was there for a whole month, and she ended up dying. So how can you say, how can God say, ‘When you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you’? That didn’t seem to work for Doris.”

Well, yeah, you’re right. That fire did end up killing Doris. The flame did seem to consume her. So did God’s promise fail? Did God somehow forget about Doris? The Lord remembered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, when they were kept safe in the fiery furnace, but I guess the Lord loved them more than he loved Doris. Is that it?

No. I’m here to tell you today that the Lord did not forget about Doris. The Lord did not love Doris any less. The Lord did not make a promise that he failed to keep. That has never happened, and will never happen, that the Lord fails to keep his promises. And so this promise of God in Isaiah 43 was absolutely true for Doris, and, dear friends, his promise is absolutely true for you as well: “When You Walk through Fire You Shall Not Be Burned.”


Published in: on September 7, 2016 at 4:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Death Is Swallowed Up in Victory” (1 Corinthians 15:51-57)

Funeral Service
Saturday, April 2, 2016

“Death Is Swallowed Up in Victory” (1 Corinthians 15:51-57)

Chuck, and the friends and family of our sister Gwen: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

First I want to say that you have our sympathy upon your loss. It is always tough to lose someone you have known and loved for many years. It is painful. It feels like we have a hole in our heart. And so we want to be with you at this time and give you our support. And certainly it is good to see the people here today, all the family and friends, who are here to do just that. And that includes many of your church family, Chuck, from St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Bonne Terre. We are a family, and so we are here for you and with you, Chuck.

Now Gwen was not a member of St. Matthew’s. But because Chuck is, I had the opportunity to visit Gwen a number of times when she was in the hospital or in rehab these last few years. I was able to minister to her as a pastor, and I’m glad to say that Gwen was receptive to the word of God, and she was grateful for the times I prayed with her and for her. This is encouraging, to know that her heart was open to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And dear friends, this is where we will find hope, even in the face of death. Namely, in the saving gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And in that vein, I want to key in now on a message that will bring comfort to our sorrowing hearts and give hope that is greater than loss. And it is this word from the Lord: “Death Is Swallowed Up in Victory.”


Published in: on April 2, 2016 at 10:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Full of Good Works, Dearly Missed, in Resurrection Hope” (Acts 9:36-42)

Funeral Service
Friday, February 28, 2014

“Full of Good Works, Dearly Missed, in Resurrection Hope” (Acts 9:36-42)

Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. –Acts 9:36-42 (ESV)

She was a woman whose life was full of good works. She was a woman who, at her death, was dearly missed by all who knew her. And she was a woman who lived and died in resurrection hope.

Who is this woman I’m talking about? Was it the one we heard about in the reading from Acts, that woman named Dorcas? Or is it Elaine that I’m talking about? Answer: Yes. Both Elaine and Dorcas could be described as women “Full of Good Works, Dearly Missed, in Resurrection Hope.”


Published in: on February 28, 2014 at 6:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Grieve Not as Those Who Have No Hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Funeral Service
Thursday, August 2, 2012

“Grieve Not as Those Who Have No Hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Louise lived a good, long life. Eighty-seven years is an above-average lifespan. And yet death always comes as a bit of a shock. True, Louise was not in good health these past few years, her heart was weak, and she was in the hospital just a couple of weeks ago. And yet–and yet her death still jolts us. That familiar face, that familiar voice–we won’t have Louise around anymore. And that hurts us. We will miss her.

And so we grieve. We feel the loss. Particularly for Louise’s immediate family, her death may mean some major changes in our life, transitions and adjustments we must now make. For Louise’s friends, for Louise’s fellow members here at St. Matthew’s–and she was a member here for many years–we too will miss her. I know I will miss her gentle spirit. I was able to visit with Louise a couple of weeks ago when she was in the hospital. She greeted me warmly, and she was receptive to hearing the word of God and grateful for the prayers of the church. Louise’s body may have been weak, but her spirit was strong, her faith was strong. There was no doubt she knew Christ Jesus her Savior.

A dear sister in the Lord, a dear mother and friend–Louise will be missed. We grieve her loss. And yet–and yet, in the words of Paul to the Thessalonians, we “do not grieve as others who have no hope.” Yes, we grieve, but at the same time we know the hope we have in Christ, the same hope Louise had and in which she died. And so my message to you today is the same as Paul told the Thessalonians: “Grieve Not as Those Who Have No Hope.”


Published in: on August 2, 2012 at 9:49 pm  Comments (4)  
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