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In Memoriam: Rev. Dr. Erich H. Kiehl

Philippians 4.13,and others


Lutheran Senior Services at Meramec Bluffs  
Ballwin, Missouri

Sat, Jul 28, 2012 

Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.

Invocation In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

1 St. Paul writes in Philippians, chapter 4:

[Philippians 4.13]

I can do all things through Christ which strengeneth me.

2 Our brother Erich took these holy words to heart, and by faith, made them his own.  Guided by God and driven by the Holy Spirit in faith, he lived his life by the strength of Jesus Christ.  He was

• a loving husband

• a devoted father

• a doting grandfather.

He was an

• accomplished author of works for the church

• a respected professor dedicated to the formation of church workers

• a pastor with a heart for missions and a zeal for nurturing people in the faith.

Erich did all this that people might know

• Christ fully

• love Christ deeply

• and serve Christ with great devotion, while receiving the salvation of their souls.

All these things, and whatever Erich did, he did through Christ who gave him strength.

3 Even as his physical strength began to fail, the strength of his faith was steadfastly sustained by God's grace.  Here at Meramec Bluffs he faithfully attended Bible Study as long as his health allowed.  Sunday after Sunday he joined us for worship here in the chapel.  By the gracious working of our Lord he was

• nourished in his faith by the word of God

• he was cleansed anew in baptismal grace by the absolution of the Lord

• he was forgiven all his sins and made one with Christ as he ate and drank the very body and blood of the Lord.

And what was true of his Christian life here at Meramec Bluffs, was no doubt true in every place where he lived and worked and worshiped.  Whether at Hope, down on Neosho, or at the Seminary in Clayton, or even as far away as St. Petersburg, Russia, or Kazakhstan, Erich welcomed and received the life-giving gifts of God in Word and Sacrament regularly and faithfully; and thus was strengthened for all he did by Christ our Lord.

4 From these holy gifts given to Erich by God, holiness flowed forth in what we experienced of him.  The memories you shared give witness to that truth.  And the many memories we share of Erich as our neighbor and friend here the Bluffs give witness also.  These memories of Erich which we cherish remind us of his unflinching devotion to Christ, and his unyielding love and concern for those around him.  Personally, I will always remember the smile on his face as he would ask about my family, my seminary days, and then unfailingly encourage me in my ministry.  Through Erich, Christ was strengthening me.  Through Erich, Christ was strengthening you as he loved you and blessed you.  Through Erich, Christ was strengthening us all as he used Erich to give us a glimpse of his holiness and love in one of his precious saints.

5 Because God used Erich to bless us so, we value our memories of him very highly.  And we gather today to give thanks not only for what Erich achieved in his earthly life, but also—and even more importantly—to praise God for what he did for Erich.  Today, St. Peter tells us that, in Christ, Erich—your husband, father, grandfather, our friend—Erich was begotten by God

[I Peter 1.3-5]

. . . unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for [him], who [was] kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

6 And St. John reminds us today that just as Erich was begotten unto certain hope in the resurrection, he will indeed experience that resurrection.  Erich is among those whom Christ will not lose.  Erich is among those whom Christ will raise up again on the last day.  Erich is among those whom, believing in Christ have everlasting life.

7 And yet, we mourn Erich's death.  In this life, we will no longer see the wide smile that always accompanied his warm welcome.  We will experience no more his loving devotion.  He will write no more books.  He will teach no more classes.  And we will not see him again in his trademark bow tie.  So we grieve his absence from us, and rightly so, because as we greive Erich's death, we grieve the absence of a blessing sent to us from God.  But even in the midst of our grief, we mourn in the same lively hope into which Erich was begotten by God:

• hope in the resurrection

• hope in the life of the world to come

• hope in Christ's promise that he is the resurrection and the life, and He that believeth in him, though he were dead, yet shall he live.

For in the life of the world to come, we will see Erich again.  He won't be wearing a bow tie, but he will be decked out in the glorious robes of righteousness and the garments of his salvation.  Then, with our brother Erich, we will see God.  St. Paul exhorts us, as he did the Church in Thessalonika:

[I Thessalonians 4.13-18]

. . . I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

8 These words are indeed our comfort, for they remind us that we, like Erich did, can do all things through Christ who gives us strength: even mourn and grieve in hope.  For though Erich's earthly life has come to its end, Erich now lives with Christ.  And Erich will rise again from the dead, to live in bodily perfection forever and ever when Christ returns in his glory.  And not only Erich, but we too, who faithfully follow Christ our Lord.  We—you, me, and all the saints—we too, will rise from the dead, and with Erich, we will see our Lord face to face, and receive our inheritance that is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away.  For our inheritance, is reserved for us in heaven, as is Erich's, and God will keep us by his power through faith unto salvation which he will reveal at the last time.  Until that glorious day when Christ returns and raises us from the dead to everlasting life, we find our strength in the one place it is to be found: Our Lord Jesus Christ.  And like our brother Erich we make these words of St. Paul our own confession of faith, and our motto for life:

[Philippians 4.13]

I can do all things through Christ which strengeneth me.

Invocation In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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