Phil, Jeannie, Richard, family and friends of Bud Engelke, I hardly need to tell you how much Bud was loved around this place. Such a gentleman. Always kind, even if he was disagreeing with you; ready to tell a story, “well you know, that kind of puts me in mind of…” and off he’d go and it would always be worth the hearing. The phone would ring at the parsonage and it would be Bud. “You gonna be there for a little bit. I have something I want to bring up to you.” Over the years we were the happy recipients of cracked pecans from his pecan trees; apples from the apple trees; and even one year of delicious box of peppermint icecream, just because. And how the kids delighted in watching Shotsy do his tricks! He and Stella were the first members of St. Paul to invite us to a meal in their home - and for us it was the start of years of friendship and affection. Yes, Bud was a man generous and kind, loving and according to every earthly standard we use, good.
And you better believe that he’d be scolding me right now for saying that. For though Bud was good in the eyes of other people, the eyes of other people wasn’t the standard of measurement he used. He used the standard of God’s law, and so he knew that in his heart he lacked the perfect goodness that God requires of all. And that’s why he was so thankful that he had a Savior.
When he was just a wee little thing - barely over a month old, the pastor came to Fred and Lillian’s home in Prairietown and baptized him. You see, it was 1919 - and the Spanish Flu epidemic was at its height; it kept people away from gatherings like church. But it couldn’t keep the Lord Jesus from finding His little sheep and marking him as His own through the hands and voice of Pastor Iben. “Ich taufe dich im Namen des Vaters und des Sohns und des Heiligen Geistes” he said as the water flowed over his little head and Fred and Lillian would have answered: “Amen!” One little sinner now enfolded in the arms of the Good Shepherd, and so began a life lived with Christ.
He grew up learning to confess his sins, to seek God’s forgiveness and to live in His mercy. It was March 29th in 1931 that little Larmen stood nervously before the altar of Old St. Paul’s church and made his confirmation vows - his class was the last confirmed in the old building. German still reigned supreme. And Pr. Hansen laid hands on young Larmen and he prayed that God would keep this child His own and faithful to his baptism until death. That prayer was heard and answered. A few days later for the very first time the body and blood of Jesus Christ went into Larmen’s mouth with the promise that his sins were wiped out and gone and that Christ put into him a life stronger than the grave.
As Larmen grew in years the joys blossomed. He found the beautiful Stella Kuethe and in May of 1943 there was a joining together of the Kuethe and Engelke clans. There were joys on the farm with mom and dad, and you kids coming along with your laughter and your playing. Certainly joys abounded with children and grandchildren. But with the years also came sorrow. The tragic death of your grandfather. Later, the illness that befell your mom and took her so early from us. The loss at last of your grandmother. So many losses. They weighed upon him; and some of his own health struggles to - especially the fits with that back!
Yet he faced these challenges with the confidence of Job in our first reading. Larmen knew that death was not the end for anyone who was in Christ Jesus. He knew that the One who had claimed him as His own and marked him with His cross could be counted on to raise the dead, and so the tears and the sorrows were always tempered by faith in the future triumph. There are no goodbyes in Christ, only “see you laters.”
And I think he specially clung to that promise from Romans 8, that all things finally DO work together for the good of those who love Christ Jesus and that there is nothing that is able to separate us from the love we have tasted in Him. Nothing. Not sorrow. Not suffering. Not death itself.
He continued even in these last years steady in his feasting with the Lord, studying His Word. He was so often here in this room or downstairs at Bible Class, giving an attentive ear to the Lord’s Word, and coming up to receive His Supper. I mentioned to you the other day that there was hymn we often sing that seemed invariably to choke him up: “What is this bread?” He’d start the sniffling when the words rang out: “And who am I, that I should live and You should die under the rod. My God, my God, why have not forsaken me? Oh, taste and see, the Lord is free.”
You see, Bud never forgot that his sins were forgiven because his Savior had taken his place and paid his debt. He knew that he had no hope except for Jesus, for as Jesus said: “No one comes to the Father except through me.” No one. For no mere human goodness however spiffy it may look to the outside can pass muster before the all-seeing eyes of Him who looks down into the depths of our souls and sees not merely what we do or fail to do, but what we desire, what we want, and what we think. Yup, we need a better righteousness than anything we can come up with - and Bud rejoiced that he had that righteousness as a free, undeserved gift in Jesus, His Savior.
Even though he was ready to go whenever the Lord would call, he still lived his life to the full. He may have been 90, but you’d never know it by his activity. Even the day before his death, he’s visiting and celebrating with you guys and enjoying a big meal and fireworks. Go, Larmen! When the moment came, though, the God who had named Larmen his own in Baptism all those years ago, reached out his hand and stilled his heart and said: “Child, come home.”
It wasn’t a moment of sadness. It was a moment of overflowing joy - something that he had long contemplated and to which he looked forward with hope. Home, home to Jesus, and that meant as well home to Stella, to mom and dad, to all his beloved who had passed before him. Now he stands with them around the throne of the Lamb, singing the praises of the One who forgave him all his sins and is his perfect righteousness. And together with all the saints in glory, he waits for the joyful moment when his body will be raised from corruption and made incorruptible like Christ’s own. To that Savior, Christ our Lord, with His unoriginate Father and all Holy Spirit be the glory now and ever and to the ages of ages! Amen.
Larman "Bud" Frederick Engelke, age 90, of Hamel, passed into eternal life on Sunday, July 19, 2009, at his home. Born on Dec. 19, 1918, in Prairietown, the son of the late Fred C. and Lillian Thomae Engelke. He married Stella Mae Kuethe on May 16, 1943. She preceded him in death in 2000.
He graduated from Edwardsville High School and worked briefly at the Hamel Creamery. He became a journeyman machinist, retiring after 45 years from The Owens Illinois Glass Company in Godfrey. His memberships included St. Paul's Lutheran Church at Hamel, The Owens Illinois Machinist Union, The Illinois Nut Growers Association, The Golden Emblem Club, The Kiwanis Club, The Municipal Band of Edwardsville, playing a trombone for several years.
He also served as a volunteer fireman in Hamel. His hobbies included woodworking, golf, trout fishing, boating and he was an avid gardener.
He is survived by two sons, Charles Phillip Engelke (Vicki) of Edwardsville, Richard Clark Engelke (Charlotte) of Dana Point, Calif. One daughter, Jean Ann Harper (Steve) of St. Louis, Mo., five grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
Also, surviving are two sisters, Flora Lee Renken (Harry) of Hamel, and Genevieve Heepke (Paul) of Edwardsville.
He was preceded in death by one, sister, Virginia Engelke Geers and one brother-in-law Robert Geers