Thursday, April 22, 2010

Funeral for LeRoy Kehnemund

The Funeral of LeRoy Kehnemund – April 22nd, 2010 – John 6:60-69

Christ is Risen (He is Risen indeed, Alleluia) Amen +
Dorothy, Clayton, Olive, Robin and David, friends and family of Leroy, our beloved brother in Christ, grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Today we gather here to give thanks to our gracious Lord for the love He has shown us through His servant Leroy, to rejoice that God Himself has claimed Leroy as His own dear child in the waters of Baptism and brought Him safely unto the joys of heaven, and to ask that God would lead and guide us through our own grief now until that the Last Day, when all grief and woe will be thoroughly undone by the resurrection of the dead at the return of Christ Jesus our Lord. We gather here knowing that this resurrection will come, for our Lord has won our salvation with His death upon the Cross, and He Himself rose from the dead, showing to us that He would indeed call us forth as well.

This truth, the fact that Christ Jesus died upon the cross to save us from our sins and rose to give us eternal life, was and is one of the great joys of Leroy’s life. This is something that stood out clearly in the time in which I was blessed to know him here. Let me explain how and why this stands out. Now, as you all know, Leroy loved to talk. And talk. He’d give a little thoughtful sigh, and then proceed to let you know what you needed to know, and everything you needed to know. In fact, I don’t know if I can remember a time where Leroy left this Church without Dorothy pulling him out of some conversation or another saying, “Come on, it’s time to go.” We all know that Leroy loved to talk. But that’s not what stands out to me – what stands out is that Leroy loved to listen. I remember it well, it was right back there after service, and Leroy looked at me, gave me one of those determined sighs, and said, “Pastor, I like your sermons, I just can’t hear it.” And we got to talking, and the end result was that I would print up a copy of the sermon and have it at the back of the Church for Leroy next Sunday so he could know every word that I said. He wanted to hear.

And this wasn’t because I was had such a beautiful voice or was so wonderful, but because Leroy wanted to hear His Lord’s Word, and if pastor’s accent and lisp and his own hearing were going to get in the way, then let’s have it there to read. The thought, the point, was the exact same point that Peter makes in our Gospel reading this day. Jesus had been preaching the truth, and folks back then are no different than folks today – a lot of folks don’t like hearing the truth. And folks were getting mad at Jesus and abandoning Him, forsaking His teaching, and so Jesus asks the 12 disciples, are you guys going to leave too? And Peter speaks these beautiful words – “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Peter knew that hearing Jesus, listening to His Word was where it was at, that our Lord spoke the most wondrous words of all – words of eternal life. Think about that – that Jesus’ Words give eternal life – that the reason we are able to be here with hope, the reason we were able to say together that we believe in the life everlasting is because we learned them from Jesus’ Words, and if Jesus speaks them, they are true, they are powerful, they are guaranteed.

More than anything, Leroy wanted to hear those words of eternal life. And when Christ’s Word is our focus, it brings with it wonderful results. For Leroy, I put a copy of my sermon at the back of the Church – and other folks saw it, and wanted one too. So there were more. And then it was sent out to the folks who couldn’t make it on Sunday, and so on and so forth. I found out a couple of years ago that one lady was forwarding the sermons to folks in prison and that the prisoners were sharing it there – and none of this was expected, none of this was planned – it came about simply because Leroy Kehnemund wanted to hear the Word of God preached. God works, God accomplishes life and salvation through His Word. This is something that we ourselves should learn – that our desire to hear God’s Word, our focus upon it, quite often helps others to hear that word, helps them to be focused upon that Word, and thus the Word goes out, the Church grows, more and more know of Christ’s love for them, how He died to forgive their sins and rose again – that this all spreads through and by God’s own Word, even with results that we could never have planned for, never have expected.

And now, here is the wonderful part. Because of this word of life and forgiveness that Leroy heard all of his days, right now, this very instant Leroy is in the presence of our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus hearing the Word of eternal life in heaven. Right now, Leroy’s soul is at Christ’s side delighting in our Lord’s presence, and when our Lord comes again with trumpet sound on the Last Day, Leroy will rise again and with joy hear that trumpet in His own Body now risen and made like Christ’s own resurrected Body, and for the rest of eternity He will hear the Lord’s Word of life. This is the promise and joy that our Lord’s Word worked in Leroy by giving him the gift of faith, giving him the forgiveness of his sins, by joining him to his savior in Baptism and in the Lord’s Supper. And this is why we are able to take this pause in the midst of our grief to reflect upon our Lord’s Word with joy and confidence, knowing that on account of Christ Jesus Leroy has everlasting life, and that on account of Christ Jesus our sorrows of this day will be done away with by everlasting Joy. And thus we are right to give thanks to God for all the blessings of both body and soul that he gave to Leroy.

All Praise, dear God, for Leroy/ Who did so dearly love
To hear and study God’s Word/ Which gave Him life above.
May we who still remain here/ Likewise cling unto Christ
And by His Word be gathered/ Unto eternal life.

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