TEXT: REV 7:9-16/JOHN 10:22-30
BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN
AND YET HAVE BELIEVED
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

 

Dear Winnie, Jim, Jean, Sheila, Meredith, family and friends and fellow members at Luther Memorial of Myron Genthe; as you mark the death of your husband, your father, your father-in-law, your grandfather, your friend, you brother in Christ, please do so in light of the Word of God recorded in our readings from Revelation chapter 7 and John chapter 20.

 

The crucifixion and resurrection of the Son of God has ushered in the end of the ages and the new creation.  While Tomas reflects the doubt and unbelief that plaques the heart of every Christian – Mike included – the risen Christ continues to act to remove our doubts.  His words to Thomas reflect the wonder of His gift of faith - Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.  Seen what?  Seen with their eyes the risen Christ in the flesh!  Touched with their hands the wounds in Jesus’ flesh!  This experience that was granted to Thomas was not granted to Mike.  Yet, through the Word of God that he heard, Mike confessed his sin and Jesus Christ as his Savior.  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.   By the gifting of the Holy Spirit Myron Genthe was and is one of those “Blessed ones.” 

FUNERAL SERVICE FOR MYRON GENTHE – APRIL 13, 2013
TEXT: REV 7:9-16/JOHN 10:22-30
BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN
AND YET HAVE BELIEVED
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

Dear Winnie, Jim, Jean, Sheila, Meredith, family and friends and fellow members at Luther Memorial of Myron Genthe; as you mark the death of your husband, your father, your father-in-law, your grandfather, your friend, you brother in Christ, please do so in light of the Word of God recorded in our readings from Revelation chapter 7 and John chapter 20.

 

The crucifixion and resurrection of the Son of God has ushered in the end of the ages and the new creation.  While Tomas reflects the doubt and unbelief that plaques the heart of every Christian – Mike included – the risen Christ continues to act to remove our doubts.  His words to Thomas reflect the wonder of His gift of faith - Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.  Seen what?  Seen with their eyes the risen Christ in the flesh!  Touched with their hands the wounds in Jesus’ flesh!  This experience that was granted to Thomas was not granted to Mike.  Yet, through the Word of God that he heard, Mike confessed his sin and Jesus Christ as his Savior.  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.   By the gifting of the Holy Spirit Myron Genthe was and is one of those “Blessed ones.” 


Mike did see a lot with his eyes in the 89 plus years God gave him on this troubled earth.  He saw a lot of change on the East side of Milwaukee – starting his life on Bartlet Avenue and having his longest residence for nearly 60 years just three houses south of this house of worship on Maryland Avenue.  Mike did see a lot with his eyes in World War II.  He saw England during wartime.  As a tail gunner on a B-17 he saw bomber formations and shrapnel flying - even through his aircraft.  He saw death and destruction in that arena of conflict. 


A few years after the war ended he saw in a different way a particular young lady named Winifred MacRae also from the East side of Milwaukee.  They had been schoolmates in younger years, but in the year of 1951, Mike took Winnie as his Bride and Winnie took Mike as her groom.  Through the months and years and decades that followed Mike’s eyes saw James and Jean and Sheila and Meredith added to the Genthe gang – growing up just three houses down. 


While all that excitement was underway, Mike also saw days and years of regular work at Rex Chain Belt.  The work was heavy – welding, lifting, mounting cement mixers on truck beds, but Mike’s hands were large and strong – as most of you know from his handshake.  Apart from work, he also liked to watch the water while pursing the hobby of fishing.  That water and wave watching included some late afternoons at the Shorewood and Milwaukee beaches - even when at times that made him late for supper.


The gifts that God gave Mike eyes to see in the decades of his earthly life are beyond counting.  His grandchildren, his friends, his fellow members here, his gardening, his give-and-take with teens of this congregation who nicknamed him “Ralph,” his AAL goofing with Roy and Lou and his goofing with most anyone, his guarding of the children on Atwater’s playground.  But none of what Mike saw through all his years could keep at bay the death that he more clearly saw approaching since this past Christmas Day.  That’s why the words of the risen Christ to Thomas are a wonderful anchor for our thoughts toward Mike as we gather around his coffin.  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.


Just one month after his birth, the Holy Trinity called Myron by name at Salem Lutheran Church, baptizing him in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  What God begins in that washing of new life – He never backs away from.  Man can tragically turn from God’s promised gifts of forgiveness but God is faithful to His promises.  In the 20 plus years that I have served Mike as pastor, he has continued to receive the gracious, life-giving gifts the risen Christ brings to his gathered people.  I know that was the case when he was served by Pastor Hessel and Pastor Brandt long before my time here.


Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.  What God calls us to believe in Christ Jesus is that death and the grave do not have the last word.  What God called Mike to believe in Christ Jesus is that God’s love in Christ out-weighed his sin.  That is what Mike confessed in this house of worship through so many decades.  That is what “Mr. Myron” confessed in his room at Milwaukee estates in these last months and indeed on this past Tuesday afternoon in great weakness.  The absolution Jesus commanded his sent ones to continue to give – “forgive the sins of those who repent” – Mike continued to receive.


Although he did not want to talk of it much “Mr. Myron” knew that death was drawing closer.  When I visited him on his birthday in January, we talked for quite a time.  Before the communion service Mike reflected on death in time of war and how we don’t know just when – and often - how it will come.  He told how one day the air crew was stopped by a guard from boarding the B - 17.  The bombing run was scheduled, the clock was ticking but the guard gave no ground – allowing none to pass by.  Then the report came that while a half-ton bomb was being loaded on the aircraft either mechanical failure or worker error had caused the load to slip crushing an airman to death.  His work was supposedly the safe work back at home base where no bullets or shrapnel were flying - yet death came in an instant to that young man. 


The text for the communion service on that day was from Isaiah 43 – Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you…For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.  Here we have laughed a bit about Mike’s different names, but the name by which the Holy Trinity called him was Myron and the name that made his calling possible is Jesus, the name above every name, for there is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.  Dear Christians, He is our anchor, He is our righteousness, He is our rescue, He is our peace!  In the face of death He is our sure and certain hope for He is the resurrection and the life who gives us the victory over that last enemy.


You have spoken of an anchor Mike crafted and welded together – that just fit the circumstances for a light canoe!  Not too heavy for portaging, not too light or too small for holding the canoe when needed.  It had to be just right.  You have also spoken of a keepsake Mike carried with him from boyhood – even having it on his dresser these last months.  It was a Boy Scout knife that he took with him when he shipped out for England.  During the war he would sharpen it before each mission and tie it to his belt.  He explained that when you bail out – if you get caught in the trees there is no one to get you down.  You have to take care of yourself.  He wanted a tool that was just right.  That preparedness reflects a necessary attitude for a soldier in time of war – indeed a helpful attitude in many areas of our earthly life.


God grant you deep and abiding comfort, however, that Mike did not have that same attitude when it came to standing before God in the judgment.  In view of that setting, Mike confessed that he was not right and that he could not take care of himself.  In view of that day, Mike was depending upon another man caught up in a tree – the God/Man Jesus Christ.  Jesus had not bailed out of a crippled aircraft to save Himself.  Rather He had willingly entered into a dying world to save us.  He could have come down from the cross but He did not!  His incarnation in the womb of the Virgin Mary was for the very purpose of being lifted up under the burden of our sin and its punishment.  For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 


He is the Lamb of God who alone gives us the beautiful hope expressed in Revelation chapter seven.  Who are these clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?  “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation.  They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb…He will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”


Fellow-redeemed; God does not play games when it comes to our last enemy of death.  Repeatedly He speaks to us of the brevity of our life on this sinful earth.  Robustly, He warns of our inability to provide for ourselves in the face of our three major enemies – sin, death, and the devil.  But He also speaks of the provision He provides for us only in His beloved Son. 


Mike enjoyed and was grateful for family and for family gatherings and for family care and for family help in many ways.  One of those ways he spoke about more lately was your part in arranging his trip to Washington D.C. on an honor flight and then the night a related movie was shown at Miller Stadium last summer.  But those honors did not include dress whites! 


Mike used to sing in the choir here – but the robes were never white!  Mike used to open for services here and make coffee for us here – but I never saw him in white attire.  Yet through the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus we sinners are promised robes that are pure and holy and without blemish for eternity with our Heavenly Father and the Lamb.  They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  Indeed, blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.  Such faith in the crucified one whom death could not hold is given only by the Holy Spirit.  Such faith comes by hearing and hearing through the speaking of Christ.


As we gathered in Mike’s Room this Tuesday, one of the texts that was read was from John 10 Therein Jesus states, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.  The strong hands of Mike were not strong at the end – nor will yours be nor mine.  Thank God our eternal life does not depend upon our hold on Him but on His hold on us.  Baptism is His doing – His renewing hold on us!  The Lord’s Supper is His doing – His loving hold on us!  Forgiveness is His doing – His faith giving gift to us!  When our grip is no more, when our eyes close, when our breath falls silent, the Word made flesh is not silent and His strength has not waned.  He holds us in His hand and He will not let us go!  Winnie, family and friends, of Mike Genthe, God comfort you concerning Mike with the gracious hold of His gracious God.  Nothing, not even death can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Eternal life with Him is not some wispy, harps on the cloud sort of business.  Eternal life is prepared for you – body and soul.  As Job said, “in my flesh I shall see God.”  As Jesus said to Thomas – “Peace be with you.”  “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side.  Do not disbelieve, but believe.”  The Son of God rose bodily from the tomb on Easter morning.  He is the first fruits and those who follow Him will also rise bodily on the last day.  The best is yet to come – body and soul!  The new heavens and the new earth are fit for life to the full – body and soul!  Mike was fit for that life by His Savior – body and soul!  You are fit for that life also by the service of the risen Christ – who still comes among His people speaking peace and giving His forgiveness.


The tools Jesus brings among you are just right for your eternal rescue even as they were just right for Mike’s eternal rescue.  The tools Jesus brings are His Holy Word and His Holy Body and His Holy Blood and His Holy Absolution.  We cannot see Him as He comes into our house of worship, but we can hear Him and be fed by Him and be clothed by Him in white robes washed in His blood!

 

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed!


In the name of Jesus, Amen.      

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a