Louis was exactly two weeks and one day old when Fred and Minnie Schlechte picked him up and marched him to St. Paul’s and placed him in the hands of old Pastor Hansen at the Baptismal font. There water poured over his little head with the words: “Ich taufe dich im Namen des Vaters und des Sohns und des Heiligen Geistes. Amen.” That July 8th in 1917 was in many ways the most important day in Louis Schlechte’s life. It was the day he entered the family of God via gracious adoption, the day his sins were forgiven, and eternal life made his destiny.
Such a little one to need forgiveness, some might think. But Louis knew it wasn’t just the sin he inherited from his parents, but all his sins that were drowned and left behind in that water. He knew that there he was clothed with the white garment of Christ’s own righteousness.
This he learned through his years of faithfully attending services here, through his time at St. Paul’s school, through his own study and reading of God’s holy Word. Never far from his chair were the Scriptures. And even after he and Ella could not longer get out very well on their own, they’d sit side by side on Sunday morning and listen to the Word proclaimed in the Church Services and Bible Study broadcast each week over KFUO.
Louis had a temper and he knew he was a sinful man. At times it got the best of him. He could be sharp with his tongue and you know he was death on anyone he thought was being lazy. No time for laziness in his world! A sinner he confessed himself to be, through and through, but a sinner who lived his life in the hope of the resurrection.
Just like we heard from that first reading. Job’s great confidence that even after his body was worm-fodder, he’d still stand again on this earth and see with his own eyes his Redeemer. So sure was Louis of this, that he once upbraided St. Paul for saying that he hoped to attain to the resurrection of the dead. “He didn’t ought to have said that. There’s no hoping about it. It will happen.”
It was in such faith that he mourned the death of your mother, knowing that though she was not a Lutheran, yet she believed and clung to the word of God for hope. He knew she died a Christian and was always so thankful that the pastor was there to minister to her in her last days. He spoke of it to me often. And it was in such faith that he muddled through the death of your brother – you know how that aged him. Thanks be to God that Ella was there by his side, and had walked that same sad path with her own daughter many years before. What comfort each to the other as they reminded themselves that this life is put a pilgrimage and that home lies ahead for us all – a home that our Savior has made certain for us.
When we’re bumping right up against the death of a loved one, we can be impatient like Martha in today’s Gospel and remind our Lord of his sins of omission: “If you had been here, he would not have died!” she cried. Remember the Lord’s response: “Your brother will rise again.” She knew that he would rise sometime, but Jesus meant more. That’s why He went onto say: “I AM the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who believes in me shall never die.” How Louis clung to that wonderful promise! It allowed him to go on through many a disappointment and heartache in life.
A poor miserable sinner he freely confessed himself to be, but a sinner who was blessed to have such a Savior. One whose death had answered for all his sin and whose Life meant that all poor sinners who trust in Him will never die. That was the faith into which Louis was baptized and which he grew up into all his days.
Last Thursday I prayed with him the commendation of the dying and told him to put himself into God’s hands, the God who had forgiven his every sin and who promised to destroy death forever. He said: “Huh?” and I repeated myself a lot louder. He smiled at that, and closed his eyes. Saturday morning in the wee hours the Lord called and his child – baptized into His divine life some 91 years earlier – ended his earthly pilgrimage, but his true life was just beginning, and for that we give all glory and honor to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, forever and ever! Amen.
Louis Wilhelm Schlechte was born in rural Worden on June 23, 1917 the son of the late Fred and Minnie Schlechte.
On September 11, 1940 he married Ann Lenger, who passed away on November 4, 1969. A child of their marriage, Gary Schlechte, also has passed away, together with two of his brothers Clarence and Edwin.
He married Ella Henschen on May 8, 1976, and she survives. Also surviving are two daughters: Louann Hopper and husband John of Prairietown and Debbie and husband Brian Banovz of Neoga, Illinois; one daughter-in-law, Diane Schlechte of North Carolina; 7 grandchildren: Derek Brandon, Brent Schlechte, Nathan Schlechte, Zach Hopper, Caitlin Hopper, Kelly Bryant & Kurtist Braynt; three great grandchildren: Louis Brandon, Connor Schlechte, and Kember Bryant.
A brother, Harry Schlechte and several nieces and nephews also survive.
Louis was a self-employed farmer and truck driver and a life long member of St. Paul’s. Please stand for the prayers.