[Job 19:23-27, 2 Cor. 5:1-9, John 14:1-6]
Brum, Debbie, Lynn, Judy, Tim, Duane, family and friends of Marlene Brunnworth: Herbert and Florence looked at their little baby – so beautiful and lively – and yet they knew already that what happened last Saturday would be Marlene Ann Meyer’s future, if the Lord Jesus did not appear in glory first. They just didn’t know when. And so, when she was still a wee thing, they rushed her to the font at Trinity Worden – just 3 weeks old – and there Pastor Kuethe at the Savior’s command poured water over her little head three times, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. He laid his hand upon her, praying that Almighty God who had given her the new birth of water and the Holy Spirit, and who had forgiven all her sins, would strengthen her with His grace to the life that never ends. Today we celebrate that his prayer was answered.
Though she would never remember it, the day of her baptism was the most important day in Marlene’s life. On it, her Savior reached out to her, named her His very own child, marked her with His cross, forgave her all her sins, told Satan to keep his hands off her, made her His beloved sister and fellow-heir with Him of His own unending life. Her parents knew there was no greater gift they could ever give to their child than to pick her up and put her in the Savior’s arms. And that’s where she lived her life.
Before this very altar, not yet 14 years old, she confessed her faith in that Savior, and Pastor Deichmann had her kneel down and his hands were laid on her. He spoke over young Marlene’s head: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” John 14:6 Just a few short days later for the very first time she opened her mouth to receive the Savior’s body and blood. It was the first time of what became her life-long habit of feasting with her Lord, reveling in His forgiveness, living in the joy of His presence.
Not too many years after that, she once again knelt before this altar with you beside her, Brum, as you plighted your troth to one another, and together you began the adventure of your marriage – always under God’s blessing, praying the Lord’s Prayer, and seeking His will. Together for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. You walked the long road and you were blessed for it.
It was a road paved with joys: the blessings of the children. Sports games and rooting them on. Time with family, time with friends, always time for cards and shopping and puttering around the yard. The joy of lives lived together under the forgiveness of Jesus and bright with the hope of resurrection.
That was a hope that became very precious to you both the horrible year that Sharon died. No parent is every prepared to bid farewell to a child. But though the pain is not less, it is transfigured when you know that the child was also baptized into the Savior, marked as His possession for a life that would never end. Each time you all walked into church, you could look up to the altar and see the vases at Jesus’ feet that you gave in memory of that precious life you were privileged to parent for those too few years. And you’d remember that baptized into Christ, Sharon’s soul lives with him and praises him still, while her body awaits its joyful resurrection.
We talked about it once. Marlene said something along the lines of it drives you crazy trying to figure out why, but then you stop trying to figure and you just accept God’s will and let it go. And it becomes bearable, but it still hurts bad.
Unspeakable though that sorrow was which she always carried near her heart, it had finally no power to destroy the joy that she found in life – for her joy was founded in the Lord and the good gifts He gave. And so life went on and joys with it. All you children married, the joys of grandchildren and the fun of being the perfect grandma and aunt and great aunt.
And then that horrible day. Lynn [oops, learned it was Joanne, not Lynn who was with her!], I’m sure you’ll never forget it. So sick, so suddenly, right there in the store and then to the hospital and the long waits began. Unbelievably, she made it. She made it through. But she knew that her earthly tent was tattered as St. Paul says in the second reading. “In this earthly tent, we groan, being burdened.” And yet “we are always of good courage.” That was her, wasn’t it?
Right before this last surgery, I reminded her that if the absolute worst happened: if she didn’t make it through, she still won. She had forgiveness of all her sins and her Savior had planted into her a life that death simply could not take away from her. She acknowledged that with tears and we prayed. She asked if it was okay to keep on praying the Lord’s Prayer – she said, I just keep praying it over and over again. I assured her there was nothing better she could ever pray. She went into that surgery praying: “Thy will be done…deliver us from evil.”
And so the moment arrived in the darkness of Saturday morning. She closed her eyes to this age and her soul was taken home – home to Jesus and so to Sharon, to Florence, to Harold, to all her beloved family and friends who had gone before – all baptized into the same Redeemer, all sinners whose sins had been washed away by the blood of the Lamb. Home to that place in the Father’s house that her Lord had gone ahead to prepare for her, and promised to receive her to Himself.
And now we prepare plant her body into the ground in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection. We know that when that joyous moment arrives, our Redeemer will stand on this earth, and call her body from the grave with all his saints and give her a new tent. One that doesn’t fray, doesn’t wear out, lasts forever. And her laughter will ring out bright and clear – and her finger will wag as it was wont to do, and I’m sure she’ll have a mouthful to tell us all. Oh, Marlene, you are such a character. You will be greatly missed here and we can’t wait to see you again. Amen.
Marlene A. Brunnworth, 73, of Hamel, died Saturday, Aug. 14, 2010, at Anderson Hospital in Maryville.
She was born on Friday, Sept. 25, 1936, in Litchfield, the daughter of Herbert and Florence (nee Peters) Meyer.
On Sunday, Sept. 26, 1954, she married Adolph W. Brunnworth. He survives.
She grew up in the Hamel area. She graduated from Edwardsville High School in 1954. She had worked for 14 years at Ernst Heating and Cooling in Hamel, where she retired in 1999. She enjoyed reading and crafts. She also enjoyed playing cards. She raised flowers and liked to shop. Her children and grandchildren were her pride and joy. She was a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Hamel and the Ladies Aid of St. Paul Lutheran Church.
She is survived by her husband, Adolph W. Brunnworth, Hamel; three daughters, Debra S. (Edward) Kasten, Godfrey, Lynn M. (John) Poletti, Hamel, and Judy L. (James) DeVries, Staunton; a son, Timothy A. (Linda) Brunnworth, Hamel; a brother, Duane (LaVerne) Meyer, Edwardsville; nine grandchildren, Cory E. Kasten, Kansas City, Mo., Matthew R. Kasten, Godfrey, Allison M. Poletti, Hamel, Sara A. Poletti, Hamel, Jaclyn A. DeVries, Staunton, Jodyne A. DeVries, Staunton, Aaron W. Brunnworth, Rachel M. Brunnworth and Nicholas P. Brunnworth, all of Hamel.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Herbert W. and Florence C. (nee Peters) Meyer; and a daughter, Sharon A. Brunnworth, who died April 16, 1971.