Roland Krienke Funeral Sermon
July 5, 2019
Sermon Theme – “Grace Flows Down”
I Timothy 1:14-16
And the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.
Dear Christian Friends,
Evangeline, I want you to know how your pastors and your family members and your friends are praying for you in these days. We pray that the peace only Jesus Christ can give would be yours. We pray that God’s angels would be with you and that you would be safe and secure in His grace, His mercy, and His love. Thank you for being a faithful and patient wife to Roland all these years as you have traveled through all the ups and downs of life together.
When I think about Rolie, the first two images that come to mind are of laughter and adversity. Laughter and adversity. On the one hand, as you well know, he loved to laugh. Not just a polite little smile, but a “throw your head back and let it rip from the bottom of your stomach kind of laughter.” It was a genuine and contagious kind of a talking smart Rolie would engage in, and if you could walk away from him without laughing out loud, well then I wonder a bit about your sense of humor!
On the other hand, it seems to me that Rolie endured about as much adversity as any one person I’ve ever met. My favorite story regarding adversity is about a farmer whose donkey fell into an abandoned well. The farmer tried and tried to rescue the donkey, but he couldn’t. The more he tried to help the donkey, the louder the donkey got. It finally got to the point where the farmer just wanted to put the donkey out of his misery, and so he called together his neighbors, he asked them to bring their shovels, they gathered the dirt, they shoveled. The more they shoveled, the madder the donkey got, the madder he got, the louder he grew. But instead of getting buried alive, the donkey survived. With every shovel of dirt, he would shake it off and step up. Shake it off, and step up, eventually he stepped up right out onto level ground.
His adversity made him stronger, and so it was, it seems to me, with Rolie and Evangeline. Together the two of you have shaken off all kinds of troubles, you have stepped up, and you have walked on level ground, by the grace of God.
Jesus warns all Christians that it is through much tribulation that we must enter the kingdom of God. Paul wrote to the Romans that we should rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
In our text for today, Paul was writing to young Pastor Timothy about how, even though Paul had been an arch enemy of the Church, even though Paul had persecuted followers of Jesus, even though he considered himself the chief of sinners, the grace of God had overflowed into his heart and changed his life. Our sermon theme today is “Grace Flows Down.”
In the waters of Baptism, God poured out his grace on Roland Fred Krienke. There the Triune God claimed him as son, the sign of the cross was placed on his forehead and upon his heart. That very day, his name was written in the book of life, and the benefits of our Lord’s suffering and death and resurrection were delivered right into his heart, and into his mind, and into his soul. From that day forward, Jesus his Good Shepherd has been following him around with goodness and mercy. Every time Rolie sat still in confirmation class and in Divine Service, God’s grace was flowing right into his heart, it was having effect on his very soul. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.
Evangeline tells me that Rolie loved to read his Bible, he often read his Bible right up into his last days – as often as that happened, that often the Spirit of God was enlightening, he was sanctifying, he was keeping him in the one true faith.
My memories of Rolie span the past 29 years as his pastor. My memories include phone calls and visits at all hours of the day and night, they include him trying to bring his Doberman pincers into the church office and my secretary Char telling him no way, they include him knowing the exact date of my installation as pastor here, they include him knowing my sons and daughters birthdates, my daughter Heather tells me he would congratulate her on scoring 13 points in a recent basketball game and she would wonder who he was and why he knew that about her, my memories include his generosity towards the church and towards me as an individual (he subscribed for both of his pastors to the New Richland newspaper).
My favorite memory is (the story of him and Evangeline receiving absolution and communion)
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief.
There’s nothing more important I could tell you about Rolie today than that he agreed that he was a sinner and he believed that Christ Jesus had come into this world to save him. Oh there are a lot of important lessons we could learn from the way Rolie lived his life, but what really matters is that he accepted what Christ was always wanting to give him – grace from heaven above.
I don’t know what is going on in your lives these days, but this I do know – you all have your own list of heartaches and worries. Some of you have health issues, others financial problems, still others have relationship troubles, still others have all kinds of regrets over mistakes in days gone by, and some of us have all the above. Whatever are your issues, your problems, your heartaches, your worries, your troubles, your regrets, I invite you again and again to bring them to the foot of your Savior’s cross and cast them upon him, knowing that he cares for you. Ask him for forgiveness, knowing that forgiveness is already yours. Seek out his help, knowing that help has already arrived. Keep knocking on his door of grace, knowing the door is already open to you through the blood of Jesus.
Have you ever tried to give the gift of advice to a son or daughter who wasn’t interested? You knew it was sound advice, but it was ignored as irrelevant. It was like throwing a life preserver to a man who didn’t think he was drowning. It was like giving a starving man something to eat, but he wasn’t hungry. It was like trying to rescue a dying man who was thinking all was ok.
Today we learn one more time that our first assignment each day is to receive the grace God is trying to give us. Our first assignment is to receive, to appreciate, and to enjoy the mercy flowing on down from heaven, and our second assignment is to live in that mercy in a way that is contagious towards others.
Today and every funeral service are great days to just be still and know that God is God. To set aside all excuses and to confess our sinfulness to God and one another. To give up on the idea that God helps those who help themselves and accept the idea that God can help those best who are asking for assistance.
My prayer today is that you would come before your God this morning just as you are, it is that you would be in full acceptance of the forgiveness of sins purchased for you not with gold nor silver but with the holy precious blood of Jesus, my prayer is that you would treasure your memories of Rolie Krienke laughing his way through life and making it through adversity as a man of faith, my prayer is that Roland Fred Krienke would rest in peace until the day of resurrection of all flesh. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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