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A Joy that is Full (Funeral Service for Ed Fogarty, June 29, 2013)

Saturday of Pentecost 4, 2013 (June 29)
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn
John 15:7–11
Funeral Service for Ed Fogarty

TITLE: “A Joy that is Full”

Friends and family of Ed, and especially you his children, David, Scott and Michelle, and his dear wife Ann, Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for today is the Gospel just read from St. John chapter 15 (7–11). We will focus especially on the words, “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24 ESV)

Edward Thomas Fogarty was born in Chicago, Illinois, on July 22, 1931, the son of John and Florence Fogarty. He was baptized into Christ that same year. He was confirmed in the Lutheran faith on February 16, 1969. He married his dear wife, Fran nee Miller, on December 27, 1951, and was married to her until Fran’s death in 2003. Ed and Fran have three children, David, Scott and Michelle. He married his dear wife, Ann, on January 29, 2005. Ed died in Christ after a long illness on Saturday, June 22, in the year of our Lord, 2013. “And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”” (Rev. 14:13 ESV)

Keep it fun, Ed would say. I’m pretty sure that the first time I met Ed two years ago, that came up in the conversation. Keep it fun. Ed has a remarkable talent for bringing joy into a situation. Frankly, there are a lot of sayings Ed had which could each be their own sermon. They certainly were for him. I’m pretty sure just about everyone here could recount a favorite line from Ed. “The problem with churches is religion!” That was probably my favorite.

But underneath the joking, the one-liners, the speeches and the sermons was a real joy that was hard to miss or deny. Now I don’t simply mean that Ed was happy. He was not always happy. There were many times in his life when happiness was not on the menu, even if there was a grilled cheese sandwich. No, Ed’s joy went far deeper than any passing emotion or plan. Ed’s joy came from his identity as a Baptized child of God. In other words, Ed’s joy did not come from his accomplishments but from his Savior, Jesus Christ.

One of the hardest things in the world is watching someone like Ed decline in their advancing years. Most of you here knew him far better than I do. You know what kind of a…force of nature that Ed could be. He had a way of involving everyone with whatever his plan at the moment was. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about sanding the cross, caring for his family, or mentoring a young Christian. Somehow, if Ed was involved and you knew him, there was a fair chance that you were going to be involved by the end. You may not have even known it was happening.

But things began to change some time back. The energy that once had kept him going just wasn’t there anymore. He lost weight. He couldn’t catch a breath. The hospital visits became more and more frequent, as did the blood transfusions. He was, for all intents and purposes, fading away to a shadow of the man that he once was. Now don’t get me wrong, here. Ed was still Ed. But it was clear that he was different. Things had begun to change.

Why did this have to happen? Why did he have to die? It seems so unfair, so unreal that this would happen now. He had a list of things that he wanted to get done still. He had a plan, and this…interruption had messed with them all! But Ed would be the first one to remind us of St. Paul’s words, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23 ESV)

All of us, from the youngest to the oldest, all of us are dying to live. We may long for eternal life with God, but our brokenness and sin keeps us from Him on our own. In many ways, I think Ed’s sicknesses served him as a reminder that he could not plan and control his own destiny. That was in God’s merciful hands, which is right where they belonged. Being in the hands of God is a good thing.

That brings us back around to the word joy or rejoice. St. Paul, when he was near the end of his own life, St. Paul reminds the Philippians in our Epistle that we rejoice not in ourselves or in our own merits or works. We rejoice in God. Hear again Paul’s words,

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4–7 ESV)

St. Paul, even as he neared his own death, reminds us to rejoice in the Lord. Why? Rejoice because God is at hand. God is present here, in this very house of prayer which Ed was so instrumental in building. Here God promises that He will be here for you through thick and thin, through sickness and health, through conflict and even through death itself. God will be present for you.

Why? How can God be here even in the face of death itself? God is here not in a “god is everywhere” sense. No, God is here for you because His Son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross so that the sting of death would not last forever. The sting is just that, a sting. Because Jesus has taken the road to death and the grave already, we can know and be certain that Ed is following the same path that our Lord followed. Jesus’ death ended in resurrection, and so for our dear brother, Ed, the end of this journey doesn’t lie in the simple grave of a dumb Irishman, but in eternal life forever.

That was what made Ed tick, if anything did. His baptismal faith in Jesus Christ was what drove him and defined him. In the jokes, in the stories, in the plans and schemes which all of you know in one way or another, in all of it there was and is this crazy, wonderful joy in His Savior, Jesus Christ.

Now, make no mistake about it, we are now in the middle of grief. This is a time for both sadness and joy. Sadness because Ed is gone from us for a time, but joy because in Christ, Ed is at peace. I, for one, chuckle every time I think of all the questions that he must be asking St. Peter and St. Paul. “No! You gotta explain this so that a dumb Irishman like me can understand it!” As Jesus Himself said, “Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:24 ESV)

But until the time when we will all join Ed, and Fran, and all the saints who have gone before us, until that time we weep, but we weep with an Irish twinkle in the eye, knowing that God’s mercy is for him, and for you and for me and for all of us broken sinners redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ.

So rest well, Ed. Rest well until we are united again at the Altar of God to sing praises with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven. God guard and keep you until that day.

Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.

Perspectives (Lent 4c, 2013)

Prodigal Son  Rembrandt

lent4c-2013.mp3

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Our text for today is the Gospel just read from St. Luke, chapter fifteen. Today we are going to hear three perspectives. From the older son, the younger son, and the Father.

The Younger Son

I was such a fool. In my arrogance I told my father I wished he was dead. I told him I wanted everything now. I left my home, my family who had always loved me, always taken care of me. I left my father and went off. I thought money would bring me happiness. I thought that stuff was the key. Or food. Or women. I tried it all. It was a sham. There was no happiness there. Oh it was fun for a while. Don’t get me wrong. But with each dollar spent, each desire fulfilled, I felt like a part of my soul was torn from me. Is this really what my father wanted? Was this really what was best for me?

I was such a fool. My hope was that my father would let me back in, that I could negotiate a deal where at least I could start to pay back some of my debt to him. That seemed reasonable at the time. He wouldn’t just forgive me, could he? That seems too good to be true.

He did. I still can’t believe it. My father must be crazy. He didn’t even let me get my whole speech out of my mouth! The robe, the ring, shoes, a feast given in my honor, like I am some kind of conquering hero! I didn’t do anything to deserve all of this. In fact, I did a lot to deserve death itself.

I love my father, but I sure don’t understand him. This is a greater reception than I could possibly imagine. Why would I feel like everything is upside down and inside out. I’ve done everything wrong and he’s paid the price for it. Now He gives me everything and I don’t deserve any of it. Crazy!

The Older Son

You have to admit that this Father seems pretty crazy, so thinks the older son. He clearly has never taken any parenting classes in tough love. What is he thinking? Doesn’t he know when he’s being taken advantage of ? How can he let his son do that to him?

Let’s review a few things in this story so we can soak in how absurd this Father really is. Imagine the first scene. The younger son comes to His Father and says, “Dad, I wish you were dead. Give me my part of the inheritance. I’ve got sinning to do and you’re holding me back.”

AND THIS CRAZY FATHER DOES IT!

Has He lost it? How can He be so irresponsible? Giving away His hard earned money to this deadbeat son of His. It is a scandal. What will all our, I mean his, friends and neighbors say?

And sure enough, off he goes, this son of his. Foreign lands. Foreign living. A “reckless lifestyle,” as they say. Clearly he doesn’t deserve all of the stuff he has. I even heard this young upstart lost it all. What a scandal! Crazy. My, I mean the younger brother got so low that he was below the pigs. The pigs! No self-respecting Jew would be caught dead with that kind of work. It just isn’t done.

And you won’t believe what happens next. This deadbeat, this sinner son, he actually comes to his senses. He realizes that he has blown it in a big way. So he has the gall to come groveling back. He has a plan, I’m sure. He probably wants to weasel his way back into father’s good graces. Make him one of the servants, something like that. I can imagine the scene in my mind, “Oh father, I have sinned against heaven and against you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me one of your hired servants.” What a joke. Surely father won’t fall for it. Will he?

He did. In fact, our Father didn’t just fall for it. He didn’t even let the deadbeat negotiate! “Put on the finest robe, the best rings, sandals and kill the fattened calf! My son was dead and is alive, was lost and is found.” I am so angry, I refuse to have any part of this charade, this gross miscarriage of justice. If things were fair, this son of his should still be groveling with the pigs. If things were fair, father would recognize that I am the good son. He should be rewarding ME for always obeying, and not squandering my future, my inheritance, on this loser, this sinner.

The Father

I love my sons. Both of them. But they don’t understand what it means to be a family. Not yet, at least. When my younger son said he wanted me dead, my heart broke. How can he do that? Doesn’t he know how much I love him? Doesn’t he know that going his own way will only lead to death and his own destruction?

He does now. I’ve given him everything. Everything. I hold nothing back from my sons, and I love them both. Some might call my love crazy or irrational. But being a family isn’t about being fair. It’s about mercy and love. It’s about giving and receiving. And if there’s one thing that’s true about families, it is that they don’t make sense.

My older son, my firstborn son, he still doesn’t understand all of this. He still thinks that because he is good on the outside, that that’s all there is to it. He doesn’t understand that love and family means mercy. It means not keeping track. It means giving and not keeping score. I love them both, but in many ways, my older son’s lack of mercy hurts as much as the younger son’s open rebellion.

Conclusion
So there you have three pictures or impressions from our Gospel. The older son is convinced of his own righteousness, even though he has no reason for it. The younger son has sinned greatly, and has seen the love of his father. And the father loves them both, is hurt by both, and yet continues to show mercy to them both, through thick and thin, hardship and joy.

So where are you in this story? Are you the younger son, waiting and hoping that your father will take you back? Are you the older son, convinced that you are right?

In many ways each one of us can relate to both of the sons. You have had your reckless moments, your prodigal times when you have sinned greatly against our heavenly Father. Maybe it was obvious and painful. Maybe it is secret and only you know of it.

Certainly we can relate to this older son. There is always a great temptation for the Christian to thumb our righteous noses down at anyone who doesn’t “get it” as much as we do. “Lord, I thank you that I am not like other Lutherans,” to paraphrase the Pharisee in another one of Jesus’ parables.

But here is the key. The Father, our Father, loves you whether you are young and foolish or young and arrogant. He loves you, young and old, with all of the warts and weaknesses and rebellion that you have and are. This is pretty amazing, the more you think of it.

And like those two sons, our Lord throws a banquet for you. He puts the finest robe of His righteousness upon you, gives you the ring that says you are a part of His family once again, and He kills the fattened calf, or lamb, for you. The banquet is perhaps above all a sign and token that you are a part of the holy family of God.

So come to the banquet. The feast is ready. The Father has come to you in His Son. He has made all things ready. Come to the feast.

Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.

God For Me (Lent 1, 2013)

Todd A. Peperkorn, STM
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Rocklin, CA
Lent 1 – 2013
February 17, 2013 (rev. from 2008)
Luke 4:1-11

2013-02-17-Lent01.mp3


TITLE: “God For Me”

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for today is from our Gospel lesson just read from St. Luke chapter four.

Johann Gerhard once wrote that the entire life of Christ was one of fighting temptation, and that we, through Holy Baptism, enter into that same battle. Temptation has been the struggle of man since the Fall into sin. All the way back to the Garden, the struggles of the flesh in food, of twisting God’s Word for our own desires, and of worshipping the false god who promises the world but instead gives us hell, these have been our constant companions, the thorns that prick us and will not go away.

This is your life, O Baptized. This is your life, for when you were baptized into His death you were also baptized into His life, and Jesus life was one of constant temptation and struggle against the devil. Every step He took, from His birth, His epiphany and baptism, His ministry of healing the sick and preaching the Gospel, every step was beset with this constant question: Will you go to the cross? The people want Him to provide food for them, to satisfy their basest needs. The Pharisees and scribes want to trick Him with the Word of God, so that He will deny his messianic purpose. And the disciples, His own closest followers, when He speaks of the cross and His impending death, they are aghast. They cannot fathom a God who would become Man and then would die. What kind of a God dies? It’s not possible, and so even His closest friends sought to deter Him from His holy purpose.

But what of you, O Baptized? How often have you forgotten God in favor of satisfying your own flesh? How often have you justified your sinful actions with a misplaced bible passage, or a cover-all like “love” which means do whatever you want? How often have you forgotten the way of the cross, the way of sacrifice for your neighbor, of giving of what you have and trusting that God will provide for you? You know the answer to these questions. The answer is you justify your false actions and forget. You forget who you are all the time. You forget that you are dust, and to dust you shall return (Psalm 103:14). You forget that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). You forget that apart from Christ you are nothing, but in Christ you are kings and queens in the heavenly kingdom.

It is for this, our wretched forgetfulness, our willful disregard for God’s Word that our Lord came into the flesh. It is for this reason that He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. It is for this reason that He fasted. It is for this reason that He allowed the devil to do His worst. It is for this reason that He lived. It is for this reason that He died the lonely death of the criminal, the greatest sinner, for He took all our sins into Himself.

So what does this mean for you, O sons and daughters of Adam? What this means is everything. The walk of the Christian life is not one of victory to victory. It is a life of sorrow and hardship, where joy is found not in the little battles with sins each day. It is in those battles that to our eyes we lose all the time. The walk of the Christian life is Christ’s life, and that means a life of suffering, rejection and even death. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”2

But this, dearly beloved, is not a sadness or some sort of gloomy message that only Lutherans can really appreciate. Far from it. Our Lord said, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit (John 12:24). It is in this suffering, rejection and death that you are most like Christ. Where the world sees weakness, we see strength. Where the devil sees his victory, we see his greatest defeat. Where our sinful nature cries out that we are giving up our very lives, we cry out with joy that we have been given Christ’s life for us.

Our Lord’s temptation in the wilderness is not an example for us to follow, like some sort of formula for beating temptation. His temptation in the wilderness is your defeat of Satan. No matter what may come your way, no matter what the temptation, no matter what the sin or grief or sorrow that you bear, Christ takes it all into Himself. The suffering that you bear ties you to Christ in a way that is mysterious and yet very simple. Your suffering ties you to Him, because He suffered for you.

That is where the Cup of our Lord’s Supper fits in so beautifully with your life as a Christian. The Cup of blessing which we receive from the Lord’s hand is the sure and certain promise for you that our Lord has died and rose again for you, and that the trials you undergo today, the temptations you face every day, that our Lord has given Himself to you in those trials, and where you fail by weakness or sin, that He Himself has paid the price for your forgiveness.

So come, beloved, receive the blessing of the Lord from His own body and blood. Christ has won the victory for you.

Though devils all the world should fill, All eager to devour us,
We tremble not, we fear no ill;They shall not overpow’r us.

 This world’s prince may still Scowl fierce as he will, He can harm us none.

 He’s judged; the deed is done; One little word can fell him. (LSB 656:3)

Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith, unto life everlasting. Amen.

The Faith of a Dog (Reminiscere, Lent II – 2012)

Reminiscere Sunday 2012 (Portions received with thanks from Johann Heermann)

lent02-2012

NewImage

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ, Amen.  Our text for this morning is the Gospel just read from St. Matthew chapter 15.  Today we hear and learn about the holy persitence of faith, and how we are all beggar dogs who receive God’s mercy at His table.  Let us pray:

O my most beloved Lord Jesus, at whose table of grace I wait even now: cause, I beseech You, a mere crumb of Your help and assistance to fall to me, and I and my hearers will be satisfied with instruction, comfort, and exhortation.

Today might properly be called Canine Sunday or Doggy Sunday.  Jesus calls this Canaanite woman a dog and she agrees with him!  It is a very odd thing, you have to admit.  See how the Christian faith is like the dog seeing the crumbs or scraps from his master’s table, and how this is a good thing for poor sinners like you and I.

In the Bible we find that dogs are almost without exception seen as dirty, generally unpleasant animals.  You may remember the giant Goliath mocking David and saying, ““Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?”” (1 Samuel 17:43)  And you know that you are down on your luck when the dogs are the only ones who will help you, as in the story of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:21).  Dogs are both pathetic in the Bible, but also not to be trifled with.  We hear in Proverbs, “Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.” (Proverbs 26:17)

So this woman comes to Jesus with the simple request: heal my daughter!  She is possessed by a demon, and cannot free herself.  Jesus answers her with silence, then seems to question whether God’s promises are for her, and finally says ““It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”” (Matthew 15:26)  It is as if Jesus is saying to her, “Look, you aren’t of the people of Israel.  You have no right to sit at God’s table.  You are nothing but a dog.”  Harsh words, coming from the compassionate one.

But if we are honest with outselves, there are times when that is exactly what God does with us.  We pray and get silence.  We beg and get put off.  No amount of tears or weeping or questions seem to give us the peace we long for.  Eventually things may even get so bad that we are stuck wrestling with God in His Word.  Like Jacob in our Old Testament reading, there are nights where we do nothing but fight with the One who is one our side.  ”I will not go unless you bless me,” Jacob cried out as he wrestled with the Lord (Genesis 32:26).  That’s this woman.  Her persistence is rather amazing.  It reminds us of Luther’s words introducing “Our Father who art in heaven.”  Luther says,

With these words God tenderly invites us to believe that he is our true father and that we are his true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask him as dear children ask their dear father.

Truth be told, this dog of a Canaanite woman sounds more like a, uh, persistent child than anything else.  She will not be put off. She will not be deterred.  She will not quit until she receives what is promised to her.

For you parents, you know that when the child starts flinging your own words back at you, that you are in trouble.  When the dog begins to know what to expect, then you really have to keep up with things.  I eat at this time!  They know what you give them.  Give it once, and they fully expect you to keep on giving it.  Luther once remarked,

“See how the dog jumps, leaps, and scratches at the table, and does not give up until you give it a bit of bread or a piece of meat. Even if you chase it off, it comes back. Would to God we poor men might be more like them…”

So it is that our Canaanite woman catches Jesus in His own words.  He calls her a dog, and her response is “yes, Lord, and even the dogs get fed from the master’s table!”  She will cling to these words of our Lord as a burr does to your clothes (Katie Luther).

In 1941, the newly elected Prime Minister of England, Winston Churchill, met at the Harrow school and gave a speech. It was shortly after the Blitz, while London was being bombed almost to oblivion.  It wasn’t a long speech, but here is the line that concerns us here.  Churchill said,

Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

Today God invites you to persistence.  He invites you to come to Him with boldness and confidence, as dear children come to their dear father.  He invites you to come to Him like our Canaanite woman, like blind Bartemaeus, like the Centurion, like Joseph, and yes, even like Jesus Himself prayed to the Father in the Garden.  He says to you, NEVER GIVE UP.

Dearly baptized, suffering remains for the night, but eternity comes at the break of day.  Job suffered for seven years, then prospered for one hundred and forty.  Joseph suffered for thirteen years, then ruled over Egypt for many more.  Yet even if the relief for your hardships does not come in this life, it will come in the next.  God promises you an end like Simeon, when you may depart in peace.  He promises never to leave you or forsake you.  He promises to hear your cries, and to answer them every single time.

Sometimes the answer may seem no more than a crumb., a pittance of a promise against all the forces of evil.  But with that crumb, that drop of His blood comes everything He won for you in His death and resurrection.  The crumbs and drops can move mountains, create faith, give hope, and draw you into Him.  We pray it this way in the hymn,

Thou, like the pelican to feed her brood,

Didst pierce Thyself to give us living food;

Thy blood, O Lord, one drop has pow’r to win

Forgiveness for our world and all its sin.

Or if we want something more appropos to our text today,

The Lord His little dogs adores,

And from His table crumbs He pours;

Wait but on Christ, who satisfies,

With bounteous grace—’tis sure advice.

Believe it for Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

+Pastor Ted+

My predecessor here at Messiah died in Christ this morning.  Pastor Gundlach (as we formal Fort Wayne types would call him) or Pastor Ted as his flock called him, served here at Messiah for 21 years, from 1978-1999.  Prior to that, he served congregations in Oshkosh, Janesville, and briefly in Watertown.  Prior to that, he was a Lutheran high school teacher for several years.

The first time I met Ted I think was when they stopped by our house (formerly their house) to drop off a bottle of wine and welcome us to Messiah and to Kenosha.  He and Jane were kind and generous to the upstart pastor who (thought he) knew everything.

Pastor Ted with his first confirmation class at Messiah in 1979.

The next time I saw Ted was at my installation.  I will never forget it.  We were vesting in what was then the youth room, and I had just put on my chasuble.  Red brocade, very liturgical, very very colorful.  Ted walked in, took one look at me, and said, “Oh my.”  Oh my, indeed.

They weren’t members of Messiah anymore, but Ted and his wife, Jane, lived in Racine not to far away.  Jane still does.  Over the last twelve years or so, I have increasingly come to respect Ted and his faithfulness as a pastor here at Messiah.  Twenty-one years is a long time of service.  I’m sure he did things I wouldn’t do.  I’m sure I’ve done things he wouldn’t do.  But he always, always, respected me as the pastor and offered nothing but support and encouragement along the way.  He was and is a model for how an elder pastor can remain in a community and continue to be of service to the parish he loves, and others, even after retirement.

Among the many things that I learned from him over the years, probably the one that has been the most helpful to me has been one he didn’t even know he was doing.  It was such a part of his nature.  He didn’t get bent about titles and overwrought about terminology.  When I first arrived at Messiah, it bugged me that people called him “Pastor Ted”.  I thought that was disrespectful of the Office.  But over the years, I’ve learned that it doesn’t really matter what you’re called.  The question is whether people will receive you as their pastor, and allow you to bring Christ’s mercy to them in their time of need.  People letting you into their lives is a rare gift.  Sometimes it’s more than you want to know.  But it doesn’t matter much what they call you.  That is for certain.

Some time ago Pastor Ted was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.  For those of you unfamiliar with it, Parkinson’s has to be one of the most painful and just plain ugly diseases on earth.  I’ve seen many with it, including my former Professor Kurt Marquart, and Dr. Ron Feuerhahn.  Near the end, Ted was a shadow of his former self.  It seemed like this big man was wasting away into nothing right in front of us.  I can only imagine how hard the last six months have been for Ted’s family.

But through feeding tubes and tracheostomies, the “death rattle” in his lungs, lost hearing aids and long nights, through pain and what I can only describe as a lingering death, through it all, Ted confessed Christ and the resurrection of the dead.  He brought comfort as much as He received it.  And He always received it.  I don’t know how many pastors were visiting him.  I wouldn’t blame his family if they got tired of the pastor parade.  But Ted was always kind, somehow, even when he was barely with us at all.

The last time I saw him, Wednesday, he was pretty much unresponsive from my observation.  Maybe there was an eye blink or a little look.  I’m not sure.  We talked about some of the things that had happened in his lifetime, wept, prayed and sang.  Our song for the week here at Christ Lutheran Academy was quite apropos.  It’s what I sang to Pastor Ted, Jane, Sarah, and Daniel.  It’s worth passing along here:

Evening and morning,Sunset and dawning,
Wealth, peace, and gladness,
Comfort in sadness:These are Thy works;
all the glory be Thine!
Times without number,Awake or in slumber,
Thine eye observes us,
From danger preserves us,
Causing Thy mercy upon us to shine.

Father, O hear me,Pardon and spare me;
Calm all my terrors,
Blot out my errors
That by Thine eyes they may no more be scanned.
Order my goings,Direct all my doings;
As it may please Thee,    Retain or release me;
All I commit to Thy fatherly hand.

Ills that still grieve me
Soon are to leave me;
Though billows tower,
And winds gain power,
After the storm the fair sun shows its face.
Joys e’er increasing
And peace never ceasing:
These shall I treasure
And share in full measure
When in His mansions God grants me a place.

To God in heaven
All praise be given!
Come, let us offer
And gladly proffer
To the Creator the gifts He doth prize.
He well receiveth
A heart that believeth;
Hymns that adore Him
Are precious before Him
And to His throne like sweet incense arise. (LSB 726, Paul Gerhardt)

There are other things that I’d like to write about concerning Ted, but they will wait for another time.  Suffice it to say that he was a man who stood as a sinner before God, yet righteous for Jesus’ sake.  Anything that God has used me for here at Messiah may be credited squarely on his shoulders for all of his hard work over so many years.   I will miss him.  I’m sure you will, too.

-Pastor Todd Peperkorn