Len Meyer memorial service sermon
21 Nov 2016 – Vesta, MN
The sermon was preached from an outline. Below is an expanded version of that outline. ________________________________________________
Greeting in the name of him who is, and who was, and who is to come; amen.
For those of you who know Len, who raised him or grew up with him, who went to church or served with him, family and friends who loved him…you know that there was one, fateful day when everything changed. One, awe-filled day that was the turning point in Len’s life. That one day changed everything, and life would never be the same for him or for those who loved him.
That day, of course, was the day Lenus Leopold Charles Meyer was baptizedin the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit at this very congregation.
For Len, that day changed everything! He would never be the same:
- The one who was born spiritually dead, blind, and an enemy of God…was sought, and found, and rescued by the Good Shepherd, as the Good Shepherd’s voice came to baby Lenus through the voice of a pastor and the application of water together with the Word of God.
That day changed everything! The Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, found Len – and began his perfect shepherding work:
- That work continued through Sunday School and catechism classes, as Len learned to hear and heed the voice of his Savior.
- The perfect shepherding of the Good Shepherd continued when Len stood in front of this congregation and declared that, with the help of God, he intended to remain faithful to the Lord Jesus even to the point of death.
- The Good Shepherd protected Len during his deployment to the other side of the world – whether Turkey, Vietnam, or the Philippines;
- Len learned to love the Good Shepherd’s voice, as Len guided his family in the Lutheran faith.
Throughout his life, no doubt, you could look back and think back and think of times where Jesus Christ taught Len to treasure his Shepherd’s voice. Those of you who knew him knew that Len faithfully approached Jesus with a child-like faith; even as Len taught college-level classes, Len was an avid reader of Christian doctrine. He was subscribed to our Publishing House’s book series called “People’s Bible Teachings” – and each of these books took a topic or doctrine from Scripture, teaching that topic in a thorough & approachable fashion. And whenever Len finished a book, he donated it to our church’s library so that others might enjoy the same Shepherd’s voice.
Len came to know and treasure the perfect shepherding of the Good Shepherd . . . because, if you had asked him, Len would have told you what that Good Shepherd declared. You see – Len knew he was sinful. Len knew that the paycheck for sin is death, and that one day he (and each of us here!) would die.
It’s an unavoidable fact, and this fact alone adds a somber tone to every funeral: that no matter your age, your health, your family or your background . . . you, too, will die. I will die. Because we have sinned against our God.
Len knew that truth. But Len also knew the perfect shepherding of the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for his sheep – you & me! Len knew that this Jesus Christ had washed away his sin and promised an eternity in heaven!
That promise is yours, too!
And with all that in the background, Len learned to love the Good Shepherd’s voice, and the Good Shepherd carried out his perfect shepherding throughout Len’s life. Jesus Christ led Len to the living water, himself; Jesus Christ taught Len to cling to this faith and this truth, no matter where he lived.
In short – throughout Len’s life, the Good Shepherd carried out his perfect shepherding.
And that shepherding continues to this very day.
Whether you think of Psalm 23, where King David calls the Lord his shepherd – and closes with the thought “And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever…”, or whether you think of Revelation chapter 7 – “And the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; 'he will lead them to springs of living water.’”
The Good Shepherd’s work is never done.
That truth was crystal-clear to me at the beginning of this month when I visited Len at the hospital. He was on a restricted diet, but I asked Len if he’d like Holy Communion; and he indicated “Yes.” I read through the confession of sins, the same one we had at the beginning of this service & that you’re probably familiar with: I confess that I am by nature sinful… I asked: “Len, is this your confession?” “Yes.”
I announced to him that God had forgiven his sin, through the perfect life & innocent death of our Lord Jesus Christ. And that day, the Good Shepherd – who laid down his life for the sheep – gave Len his very own body & blood for the forgiveness of sins.
The perfect shepherding of the Good Shepherd continued.
Now, I realize there may be some of us here today who wish things had been different; who maybe have a special memory of the Len we knew, and there may even be a bit of regret, or disappointment, or worry or wonder at losing the Len we knew or grew up with or loved far sooner than we wanted.
Friends: Look once more at the perfect shepherding of the Good Shepherd. Len didn’t miss out on anything! The Good Shepherd who brought Len to faith, who kept him safe and in that faith, promised a tremendous promise here in John chapter 10: I give my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.
Jesus Christ taught Len, and us, what perfect shepherding looks like – even to the very end. As fellow Christians and pastors brought Word and Sacrament, Christian encouragement and song to his bedside, the Good Shepherd kept Len in the faith – held on to him, just as he promises here in John 10.
That one, fateful day changed everything for Len. Thanks be to our Lord Jesus Christ, who showed Len – and us – what the perfect shepherding of the Good Shepherd looks like! AMEN.