19 January 2008

Funeral Homily for Adolph Sievers

And how many times did he say it, Alice, Ken, Judy, and Allen; Bill and Erna: "I'm ready to go!"? Like old Simeon Adolph knew not only that there was a Savior, but that he'd touched, seen, and known him. And so he looked at death the way one looks at a dead enemy on the battle field. Kind of gruesome to be sure, but powerless against him. Such confidence comes from a lifetime of living in the Word of God and being nourished by the sacraments of Jesus.

Born in 1919, he shared a birthday with Martin Luther. His godly parents Wilhelm und Clara knew that their little one needed the forgiveness and the life that are only in Jesus Christ, and so when we was but six days old, Pastor Hitzemann poured the water over little Adolph's head in their home and said: "Ich taufe dich im Namen des Vaters und des Sohns und des Heiligen Geistes. Amen." I wonder if he were baptized at home because the influenza was still raging? No matter, eternal life is eternal life wherever God sees fit to give it. The pastor went on to gently lay his hand on that little head that now belonged to an heir of heaven and prayed: "Der allmächtiger Gott und Vater unsers Herrn Jesu Christi, der dich wiedergeboren hat durch das Wasser und den Heiligen Geist, und hat dir alle deine Sünden vergeben, der stårke dich mit seiner Gnade zum ewigen Leben. Amen!" The almighty God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has birthed you anew through water and the Holy Spirit, and has forgiven all your sins, strengthen you with His grace to eternal life."

How God mightily answered that prayer! In 1933 he stood before his beloved little Braunschweig Church and confessed his faith in the God who had claimed him some 13 years prior. This time it was another servant of the Lord, Pastor Benning (whom some of you may yet recall), who put his hands on Adolph and gave him this Scripture to hold onto for life: "Gib mir, mein Sohn, dein Herz, und laß deinen Augen mein Wege wohl gefallen." Give my, my son, your heart, and let your eyes delight in my ways. Proverbs 23:26.

He took those words to heart. His heart would belong to the Lord and his eyes would delight in the Lord's ways all his days. Shortly thereafter Adolph received for the very first time, the Body and Blood of His Redeemer. He sang the Nunc Dimittis with a new joy then! Countless were the times in the years since that he knelt before the altar and received that gift - even unto the last time, some six days before his death. He and I were alone for that communion, but he sang along with gasping breath the words of the canticles. He was a bit confused about things when I got there - you know how it gets in ICU after a while - but he wasn't the least bit muddy on what he was receiving then. He was ready to go. "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace…" we sang together.

How could we not sing? The Sievers were a musical bunch and it turned out well for Adolph that they were - for he married Mrs. Music herself - and in the long years God granted you of growing into one, the joy of music filled your home and overflowed your lives - as you, their children, well know.

People wonder what on earth we Christian can find to sing about all the time. Ask Adolph and he'd have told you. He sang because he knew that his Redeemer lives and that at the last that Redeemer would stand upon the earth and even after his skin had been destroyed, God would raise him from the dead and with his very own eyes he would see his Redeemer and how his heart burned within him at the thought. Who could keep from singing about that?

But there's more. A Christian also thrills to sing about the home that Christ has prepared for us in heaven. A home where God dwells with us and we with Him and He wipes away all the tears from our eyes with a hand scarred by the nails. The hand of Him who loved us so much as to go all the way to Calvary's cross, shouldering the entire load of all sin and shame, so that He could make "all things new" for us. He gives the water of life freely - no payment asked or allowed - and by His gift we get to be the children of God. Who can keep from singing? Not Adolph! And he knew that he'd be joining his parents, brother Otto, Sisters Laura and Elsie, not to mention the apostles, and prophets, and patriarchs and the whole family of God. Adolph knew that great as his family on earth was - both his birth family and his marriage family, the wonderful get togethers with children and grandchildren and great grandchildren - yes, even as it was this past Christmas - oh, it was all only a teasing of taste of what it would be like when that great reunion begins that will never end. "Behold, I make all things new," indeed!

It was in that newness of life in Christ that Adolph lived his life, served his country in World War II (and how he loved to talk about his time in Alaska!), married his wife, raised his children, served his community as a fireman, worked hard and loved his neighbors and enjoyed all the little blessings that God sent his way - and humbly accepted also all the hardships. The key to the contentment and the joy that ran through this man's life was simply that he had a Savior and he was always ready to depart in peace whenever that Savior called him to the Feast of Joy that never ends. Such peace can also be yours today too, even amidst the tears, in the same Lord Jesus, to whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit be all glory and honor, world without end. Amen.
Adolph H. Sievers, age 88, of Hamel, died at 8:18 p.m., on Monday, Jan. 14, 2008, at Anderson Hospital in Maryville.

He was born on Nov. 10, 1919, at his parents home in Olive Township near Livingston, the son of the late William F. and Clara Hering Sievers.

He married Alice Marie Blase on Feb. 24, 1946, at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Hamel. She survives.

Along with his wife, he is survived by two sons: Rev. Kenneth W., and wife Phyllis, Sievers of St. Louis, and Alan R., and wife Luanne, Sievers of Batavia; one daughter: Judy A., and husband Rev. Mick, Roschke of Milwaukee, Wis.; a brother: William, and wife Bertha, Sievers of New Douglas; a sister: Erna Knackstedt of Worden; six grandchildren: Jason, and wife Melba, Sievers of Maryland Heights, Mo., Jan, and husband Wade, Foster of Kansas City, Mo., Melissa, and husband Jeremy, Mauthe of Aurora, Micah, and wife Gloria, Roschke of Milwaukee, Wis., Zachary Sievers and Jaime Sievers, both of Batavia; and seven great grandchildren: Austin Sievers, Megan Sievers, Shelby Sievers, Avery Foster, Jenna Mauthe, Josha Mauthe, and Analiyah Roschke.

Along with his parents, he is preceded in death by a brother: Otto Sievers; and two sisters: Laura Brunnworth and Elsie Ahrens.

Mr. Sievers was a WW II Veteran and served in the Medical Corps with the 128th Station Hospital at Attu, Alaska.

He first worked for Hamel Lumber Company as a bookkeeper and truck driver; he later worked for Illinois Lumber Company and retired in 1980; and later retired from Wal-Mart in 1990.

He was a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Hamel, the church's Men's Club; Worden American Legion Post #564, retired Hamel Volunteer Fire Department, member and chairman of Southern Illinois District Scholarship Committee of LCMS for 20 years, and the Lutheran Laymens League.


Rev. Eric J Brown said...

If I may ask a question - do you read the obituary as part of your sermon, or did you just post it here so we on the blog could see it?

William Weedon said...

Pr. Brown,

I always read the obituary from the pulpit at the end of the sermon.

Jimbo said...

what's your thoughts on a churchly obituary? That was the custom in this parish when I arrived, and I was glad to see resources for such in the LSB Agenda.

William Weedon said...

The churchly obituary is a fine custom. I find that it's content, though, has largely been included in my typical funeral sermon, so a straight obit after the homily is the practice I've used.