Betty, Kirk, Gary and Robin, Dan and Sue, family and friends of Carl Steinmann: Here in this holy place, Carl's handiwork surrounds us. From the altar rails at which we kneel to receive our Lord's body and blood; to the cabinet in the sacristy where the Sacrament is prepared and the sacred vessels stored; from the credence shelf on which we place our offerings and the extra service books to the shelves and cabinets in the balcony where organ and choir music is stored; from the corner cabinet in the Narthex with St. Paul memorabilia to the fact that I have a place to put my hymnal in the clergy seats in the chancel. His workmanship, his craftsmanship surrounds us here in this room.
Carl understood wood and what it could build. I suppose it is no surprise at all that he devoted so much time and energy toward using that gift to serve a Master who also knew a thing or two about wood and in fact used wood to build a home for Carl and for you that will last forever. I speak of our Lord Jesus, of course, called the Carpenter in Mark's Gospel, who used the wood of the cross to build an eternal home for Carl and all His people in the heavens.
Carl was all of what? All of 18 days old when Martin and Elsie carried him to this room (it was barely older than Carl at the time) and in that font right there put him into the hands of the Carpenter from Nazareth. They knew already then that Carl needed what only our Lord Jesus could give him. Conceived and born in sin, he would remain a sinner till death. He needed the washing of rebirth and adoption into the family of God. And that is precisely what he received here November 20, 1932 as Pastor Hennig marked him with the holy cross and poured the water over his head. From that day forward, Carl Steinmann lived under the forgiving love of Jesus Christ.
What hope that gives a soul! It sustained Carl through his years in the service. It enables him to look death in the face and say: “I know that my Redeemer lives” as Job did in today's first reading. You see, he know that even though his body turn to dust, yet at the Last Day HE shall stand again upon the earth and the great Carpenter shall build again the temple of that body, this time, utterly incorruptible, and bring him – body and soul – into the joys of His eternal Kingdom.
But if Carl's body awaits the day of resurrection, his soul already has the comfort we heard described in our second reading: a home in the New Jerusalem, where God dwells with His people and wipes away every tear, and death is no more, nor crying, nor pain. All that is past. The One around whom the souls of the faithful gather is the One who proclaims: “Behold, I make all things new.” He's the supreme Artificer, the Master Builder, who can restore what has fallen and repair what is ruined and make it eternallyk new. And He gives the water of life without payment – you can't pay for it, because HE has already obtained the right for every single human being to drink from it richly.
In the Gospel, Jesus spoke as the Builder again. He tells the disciples that they must not be afraid; they must trust in God and also in Him. He is going to His Father's house to ready their mansions and then He will bring them home. We know how He did that: by letting His hands be pounded to the wood with the nails for the sins of Carl and of you and me and every single human being, thus forgiving them all! Blotting them all out with his holy blood! And by His resurrection, He flung wide open the hallowed halls of heaven to all believers.
Thomas, though, was confused and didn't understand. He said: “We don't know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus told him flat out: “I AM the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, but by me.” Only through Jesus can anyone come to the Father, to the mansions above that our Lord has readied for all and to which He summons us all. But He is the only way in. Carl knew that.
Thus he lived his life at the receiving end of the Lord's good gifts. He was a regular communicant from the time of his confirmation. He received the Lord's body and blood for the last time some two weeks before his death. Into his dying body went the undying and incorruptible body and blood of the Son of God, carrying with them the promise to him one last time, as they had brought him countless times before, of forgiveness, life, and eternal salvation. It was the Lord's guarantee to him that the Carpenter had built him a home that he would always be welcomed into. It was in that faith that he fell asleep in Jesus, ready to lay down the toils and struggle of this world and enter peace.
A wise man once said that the faithful departed are not gone, but gone ahead. We tarry only a little space until it is time for us to join them. As we wait, though, their service to the Lord continues to bless and to serve, even when their names are long forgotten by those on earth. Though, if our Lord does not return before then, it may well be that St. Paul members fifty years hence, will kneel at this altar to receive into their dying bodies the unending life of the Son of God, and they may well have not the first clue who Carl Steinmann was. Yet they'll be kneeling at the rail that his hands labored over, and their offerings placed upon the credence that his hands fashioned in love for his Jesus. He will continue to serve them by the joyful service he rendered the Master Carpenter whom he called his Lord. Best of all, when they kneel down at this table, they'll still be feasting with him and the others who have gone ahead until the joyful day when faith dissolves to sight and we're all together as one family forevermore. May God graciously preserve us all in saving faith to that day that we may with Carl and all the faithful departed sing eternal praises to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Carl W. Steinmann, age 76, of Hamel, died at 8:32 a.m., on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009, at his residence. He was born on Nov. 2, 1932, in Litchfield, the son of the late Martin F. and Elsie Wolf Steinmann. He married Betty Lou Deist on Dec. 26, 1953, at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Mount Olive. She survives. Along with his wife, he is survived by tree sons: Kirk A. Steinmann of Phoenix, Ariz., Dan L., and wife Sue, Steinmann of Hamel and Gary D., and wife Robin, Steinmann of Hamel; and five grandchildren: Jerad Steinmann, Cortney Steinmann, Jenna Inmann, Jay Steinmann and Becky Steinmann of Illinois. Mr. Steinmann was raised in Hamel. He enlisted into the U.S. Marine Corps. and served from 1952-1955. He worked at Klaustermeier Ford in Alhambra from 1950-1965. In 1963, he built their house on his family’s farm. He worked for Opel Construction as a carpenter from late 1963-1965. He farmed from 1963-1998. In late 1976, he purchased a saw mill, assembled it across from his home and ran it until 2005. He enjoyed wood-working. His memberships included St. Paul Lutheran Church in Hamel, the American Legion Post 1147 in Alhambra, and was a former member of the Hamel Volunteer Fire Department.