Willy (Bill) Marquardt Funeral Sermon - Hebrews 13:7 August 10th 2019 / The Planted Word
Funeral Sermon for Willy (Bill) Herbert Marquardt at Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Saturday August 10th 2019: Season of Pentecost / Hebrews 13:7 "The Planted Word"
“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the Word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.”
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. With all this rain last night and this morning any farmer will tell you that today would not be a good day to be out in the field, but that doesn’t mean that a day like this is a bad day; Scripture teaches us that it is “[God who] gives rain on the earth and sends waters on the fields,” He provides nourishment that makes the sown seed grow. On a day like today it is clear that it is God who does the heavy lifting, providing you rest and comfort in your grief, providing needed nourishment for your soul. This is good to think about on a day when we acknowledge that God has granted peace and rest to Bill after his long years of labour in the field of this life. The seed of faith planted by God the Holy Spirit deep in the fertile soil of Bill’s heart at St. John Lutheran Church near Lang Saskatchewan on Oct 17th 1933 has now been harvested and Willy Herbert Marquardt has been brought into the garner (the barn, the grain bins) of the Lord; and through Bill’s life this faith was cultivated and tended, cared for and protected by the Lord Jesus Christ in His Church where Bill heard God’s Word read, preached, taught and where he received Holy Communion for the strength and preservation of his soul and the forgiveness of his sins unto life everlasting.
In a world that values being spiritual but not religious Bill was religious and in the Christian religion Bill was called and gathered into Jesus, spiritually enlightened and kept in this faith and Church by the work of the Holy Spirit, and this my friends is no small thing. It is a thing of great beauty like looking out onto a sunlit wheat field gently waving in the breeze ripe and ready for harvest. Dear ones Scripture says “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the Word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” As you remember Bill you would be well served to consider the outcome of his way of life, and imitate his faith in Christ Jesus.
Scripture often talks about farming, about sowing seed, cultivating it and harvesting its fruit and when you get to the New Testament Jesus starts to use this well known process to talk about how life goes for the Christian. Jesus regularly uses this language to talk about faith and St. Paul talks about how faith comes to us when he says, “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ.” This is the method by which the seeds of faith in Jesus are sown, how it becomes implanted in your heart, in your mind, in your soul. We have a hymn in our hymnal that encourages the preacher and the Christian concerning this process when it says, “preach you the Word and plant it home to men who like or like it not. The Word that shall endure and stand when flowers and men shall be forgot … The sower sows his reckless love, scatters abroad the goodly seed, intent alone that all may have the wholesome loaves that all men need. Though some be snatched and some be scorched and some be choked and matted flat, the sower sows; his heart cries out, "Oh, what of that, and what of that?" Preach you the Word and plant it home and never faint; the Harvest Lord who gave the sower seed to sow will watch and tend His planted Word.”
Now Bill wasn’t a preacher, yet as a faithful Christian man and a farmer he understood how this worked, and for all you family gathered here today just think of all the times Bill and Shirley brought you to Church with them and encouraged you toward having Jesus as a regular and central part of your daily life? This is not by accident, Bill knew, and Shirley knows that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ.” They knew that and trusted it and by their faithful encouragement many of you have in fact heard the Love of God for you in the promised birth, life, crucifixion, death, resurrection and promised return of Christ Jesus. I, in fact, have met some of you only because they have brought you with them to Church here in this place that you might be nourished in your faith in Jesus, that the seed that was sown in your heart might grow.
I mentioned this idea of being spiritual but not religious: now there are a lot of spiritual things in the World that are not Christian just as there are many religions in the World that are not Christian; what is a person to make of all of that? If we are all like plants that grow one next to the other why doesn’t God get out into the field right now and make sure it’s all wheat, why doesn’t He right now get rid of the green foxtail, wild oats, wild buckwheat and thistles growing alongside the wheat? Jesus explains it like this using a parable saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather [up the weeds]?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”
For you who are baptized and believe in Jesus, Jesus wants you to trust Him and what He says about you: that you are the wheat of His field, that you belong to Him and for those of you who think, ‘I guess I’m a weed’ consider what this parable teaches, it teaches the patience of God toward you, as St. Peter teaches in Scripture when he says, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” However complicated, hard or bleak your life may be, you who have been baptised, who have faith in Jesus have the promise of eternal life and it is God who fulfills His promise, you are not expected to fulfill the promises God makes to you. Remember, it is “the Harvest Lord who gave the sower seed to sow [and He] will watch and tend His planted Word.” Bill understood this; farming teaches you patients, it teaches you to trust and this patience, this trust, for the Christian is not in them-selves but in Jesus: The very one who instituted and established the Christian religion for you, the very one who has given you the gift of the Church for your protection and the care of your soul. This too Bill knew and trusted. As you remember who Bill was in this life, remember too who you are in this life. Trust in your baptism and in the seed of faith sown there in your heart. Be faithful, be diligent, and make whatever changes you need to make to honour the gift, “follow the pattern of the sound words [the teaching and doctrine passed down through the centuries from Jesus to his apostles like St. Peter and St. Paul to you, do this] in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” as Bill did, and as Scripture teaches, “by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” Guard the seed that was sown in your heart.
When I said, ‘consider the outcome of Bill’s way of life and imitate his faith in Christ Jesus’ some might wonder ‘to what end?’ Here again the image of wheat is helpful. As Jesus was preparing to go to His Cross and passion that first Holy Week, as His Good Friday crucifixion and death was approaching Jesus said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 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.” First of all Bill is part of that fruit, as are all faithful Christians who have come along through time following Jesus’ resurrection; likewise all people who believed in Jesus leading up to His death and resurrection, even the ones in the Old Testament who trusted in the promises of God about the coming Saviour but who didn’t live to see the day, those who died with the promise of the coming Christ, they too are likewise part of that fruit. Secondly, you dear ones, with faith in Christ Jesus, are also part of that fruit. So, just as we heard earlier this afternoon when the pall was being placed over Bill’s casket, that “we [in our baptism] have been united with [Jesus both] in a death like His, [which means] we shall certainly [also] be united with [Jesus] in a resurrection like His,” we too then can trust that the Resurrection of the dead is coming on The Last Day and that we as Christians have concrete promises to look forward to in that Resurrection of the Body. Here too the image of the grain of wheat is helpful.
While speaking of the Resurrection of the Body St. Paul says, “someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” to which he answers, “What you sow does not come to life unless it dies [the grain of wheat sown into the soil]. And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as He has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body …So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body… [Therefore] just as we have borne the image of the man of dust [The first man Adam which we see in our natural death], we [the] shall also bear the image of the Man of Heaven, [The New Man Jesus Christ our Lord in which we have our Eternal Life]. Our eternal home the New Heavens and the New Earth which will come when Jesus appears again will be a perfect union of the spiritual and the physical in which Bill and you and I and all those with faith in Christ Jesus will live in perfection and harmony, love and peace. This promise belongs to Bill, this promise is given to you, and this is your promise also, as Christians it belongs to you.
There may be some of you who are unsure if you are a Christian, there was a day when Jesus was sharing the good news of the fulfilment of the promises of His Heavenly Father to a woman by a well, she would not have counted herself as a Christian and while she had heard of the promise of a coming Saviour and God’s love for her she needed to have this promise cultivated in her soul, Jesus gave to her that day the “Water of Life,” to nourish the seed that was sown and her faith grew and it was rooted firmly in Jesus, who forgave her sins and gave her new life in Him. You can read the whole account in the Gospel of John chapter 4, Now at the end of that encounter as the whole nearby town was coming out to hear Jesus and the crowd approached Jesus said to his disciples, the ones who followed Him, “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. [Jesus was directing them to see the approaching crowd] Already,” Jesus continued, “the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labour. Others have laboured, and you have entered into their labour.” And so it has been for Bill, he graciously laboured in this field too. The Holy Spirit used his parents, his pastors, his Christian friends and family to sow the seeds of faith and cultivate them and we now see that mature and ripened faith harvested, and he for his part faithfully took to this work too and the Holy Spirit worked through Bill to sow the seeds of faith in Christ Jesus in many of you along the way, so it is that Bill sowed the seed and in his death another will reap the harvest.
While today is a day of sorrow, for we now must wait for The Day when we will be reunited with Bill in Christ Jesus, it is also a day to honour Bill and imitate his faith in Christ Jesus by putting your hand to the plow, by reaching your hand down into the bag of seed to scatter abroad God’s Word into the hearts and souls and minds of those the Holy Spirit puts before you trusting that the Harvest Lord who gave the sower seed to sow will watch and tend His planted Word. The task passes now to you, be faithful, trust Jesus who says to you this day, “We must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.” Today Jesus is at work in you; the “fields are white and harvests waiting,” Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Job 5:10
 3rd Article of the Creed, Luther’s Small Catechism, Concordia Publishing House 2005, Pg 17.
 Hebrews 13:7
 Romans 10:17
 “Preach You the Word,” Lutheran Service Book, Concordia Publishing House 2006, #586.
 Matthew 13:24–30
 2 Peter 3:9
 2 Timothy 1:13–14
 John 12:23–24
 Romans 6:5
 1 Corinthians 15:35–38, 42–44, 48–49
 John 4
 John 4:35–38
 John 9:4
 “Hark, The Voice of Jesus Calling,” Lutheran Service Book, Concordia Publishing House 2006, #826.