+ In Memoriam – Robert Yohr – February 1st, 2013 +August 26, 1924 – January 25, 2013
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Psalm 91, Psalm 103, 1 Corinthians 15:1-26, John 14:1-12
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
It's remarkable how much of our lives are spent traveling. Errands. Work. School. Sports. Play. Wake up the next day and repeat. Even when you vacation, you escape your day-to-day traveling by traveling.
From Wisconsin to the Ardennes and back again, from Santa Barbara to Texas to Huntington Beach, from Kansas back to California – Bob was familiar with traveling. Much of it he enjoyed. And much of it was hard fought: back and forth to therapy. Hospital. Rehab and finally, home. Some days, Bob’s life felt less like a journey and more like a march from one battlefield to another.
Jesus was familiar with this way of life. Even before he was born he travelled to Bethlehem. Then Egypt and home again. He journeyed through Galilee and Judea healing, preaching the Gospel.
Yes, Jesus was on a journey too. But he didn’t travel for pleasure or enjoyment. He marched to war. He had one destination in sight: Jerusalem.
That’s where Jesus was when he spoke those words, on that Thursday night before Good Friday.
That’s where Jesus was going. To Jerusalem. To the trial. To the whip. To the nails. To the Calvary. To the cross. To death. To the grave. For Bob, for you, for the world.
But Jesus’ journey didn’t end in the grave and because he rose, Bob’s life and yours doesn’t end there either. Even as Jesus prepares to die, he points his disciples – and us – to his resurrection. He rose. Ascended to the right hand of the Father. But even there he’s restlessly working for you, hearing your prayers, pleading before the Father for you, and preparing to bring you home.
That’s what we need to hear today: That Jesus has something better in store for us and Bob.
“Let not your hearts be troubled…believe in God; believe in me. In my father’s house there are many rooms. “I go to prepare a place for you…and if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again to take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”
That’s why we weep today. Not for Bob, for we know he’s with Christ. We weep for our friends and family, for our children and grand-children and for all who still march from one battlefield to another in need of rescue.
Bob was familiar with the battlefield too, whether it was the Battle of the Bulge or Celia’s battle with cancer, his own invading illness or the daily struggle with his sinful flesh. He faced countless skirmishes on multiple fronts, but it was always the same enemy…
“For the last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
Funerals, unlike any other event, slap our face with the sting of death and the reality of sin. The Law stares us straight in the face and says: “the wages of sin is death.”
This was also Bob’s confession. “I a poor miserable sinner…” He knew he was a stubborn, ornery old sinner. And as much as we don’t want to admit, we are too. St. Paul speaks truthfully…in Adam, all die.
But that’s not the whole truth.
Bob also knew what St. Paul proclaims today, that there is something – or rather someone - greater than death. Yes, in Adam all die. But in Christ all are made alive. Bob knew that no matter how sinful he was, Christ’s humble, sacrificial death on the cross was greater than his sin.
He knew that the blood of Christ covers our sin and He removes our transgressions from us as far as the east is from the west. Bob knew that Christ went to Jerusalem to fight death to the death for him and for you.
St. Paul simply tells it like it is - something I am sure Bob appreciated. After all, anyone who knew Bob knows that he had “no filter.” St. Paul tells us exactly what’s on his mind: “I delivered to you what I received – Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, he was buried and on the third day he rose again…and this was seen by over 500 eyewitnesses.”
Your faith – and Bob’s – is not a fairy tale believed in vain. It is founded on fact.
Christ rose from the dead. The grave couldn’t hold him in. And because Christ rose from the dead, so will Bob…and so will you and all who are in Christ. But each in his own order. Christ the firstfruits and then at his coming, those who belong to Christ.
Today, it may appear that death wins. But the grave doesn’t get the last laugh. Death doesn’t have the final word, Christ does. He is the master and commander of the grave. Death has been swallowed up in victory…for Bob and for you. Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.
That’s our hope and comfort this day just as it was for Bob throughout his earthly life. “I go to prepare a place for you…and I will come again and I will take you to myself that where I am there you may be also.” Bob died the way he lived…always in the care of Christ his Savior.
As Bob walked the deserted fields of Western Europe pondering if there was a god, Christ was there delivering him from death and destruction. When cancer invaded Celia’s body, Christ was there fighting back their grief and sorrow with his Word of comfort and hope. When Bob fought the frailty of his own flesh, Christ was there again, caring for him through the loving hands of his daughter-in-law, Monte and the compassion of his family and friends with every visit and phone call.
For Bob was always a man of the uniform. But the most important uniform Bob wore wasn’t the one given him by the United States government; it was the one Christ clothed him in at Baptism.
For beneath the surface of that calm baptismal water a battle raged in the font; life and death contended; but Christ spoke the decisive word: “I baptize you in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Amen. The old man gone. The new had risen. The battle was over, at least from Christ’s perspective. Freedom. Life. Salvation. Bob belonged and still belongs to Jesus. And Christ’s victory belonged to Bob. And Christ never leaves a man behind. Christ fights with us…and better yet, fights for us.
For Christ is the kind of Savior and Captain most people would find rather strange.
He secures victory by losing his life. He gives us eternal life by dying in our place. He wins the battle, not by a glorious feat of arms, but by laying down his arms in weakness and humility on the cross. He throws himself into the breach; falls on death’s grenade and lays down his life; and by his death our greatest enemy is defeated.
Let not your hearts be troubled. Though life is a struggle, there is also great joy and blessing. Our Lord richly blessed Bob and his family in more ways than he could count – and for Bob the business-minded man, not being able to count those blessings says something. So, Bob shared this abundant joy with others: his church, friends, children and grand-children. God’s earthly gifts - even the simple delights in life, like chocolate – pointed Bob to the greater and everlasting joy in Christ’s kingdom which has no end.
That’s what gave Bob such hope and confidence in his last days. Many of you may not know, but Bob was supposed to have left for Kansas on January 26th, the day after he died. When anyone would ask about the upcoming trip, he’d simply reply, “we’ll see.” In a way, Bob was right. “We’ll see” – those are words of hope. Thy will be done he prayed.
Bob found solace during his last hours in those words of the Lord’s Prayer. And one word in particular silenced the tumultuous waves of Bob’s storm-tossed hospice bed: Amen.
That was Bob’s final word– Amen – this is most certainly true. It was the same word spoken at his Baptism. The same word spoken as he received absolution. The same word spoken as he received Christ’s body and blood. It is a word of faith and trust in Christ. A Word that Christ planted upon Bob’s lips and ours both now and in for eternity. In Christ, the battle is over. You are free. Forgiven and alive in Christ…but the journey is just beginning.
For one day, we will see – Bob and Celia and all the saints in heaven in the flesh.
We’ll see…the new creation along with our resurrected bodies, free from illness, sin, and death forever, clothed in white by the blood of the Lamb.
We’ll see Christ face to face as we join Bob in confessing that same little word of hope and faith for all eternity: Amen.
In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.