Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Christian Funeral for Helga Drensek


John 5:24-30; 1 Peter 1:3-9; Lamentations 3:22-33

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

What does it mean to be a good wife? What does it mean to be a good mother? What does it mean to be a good Christian? If you were to ask those questions of a large group of people, you would likely receive a large variety of responses ranging from keeping a tidy house, cooking good meals, praying regularly, serving in the Ladies’ League, and other good deeds. But, if you were to consult God’s Word in the Holy Scriptures, you would likely find a similar response in each case. For, a good wife, a good mother, and a good Christian is one who hopes in the LORD and who waits quietly for the salvation of the LORD while confessing that the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, His mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning, and great is His faithfulness.

For, a good wife, a good mother, and a good Christian, like a good son or daughter, a good husband, or any other human relationship or office, is not good in and of itself, but it is declared to be good by God’s grace through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. Faith trusts, faith hopes, faith waits, patiently, for the salvation of the LORD, each and every day He grants His children breath and life.

Our dear sister in Christ, Helga, exhibited this faith in her life and in her deeds. She was trusting and seeking, patient and hopeful, and the LORD made of her a good wife, a good mother, and a good Christian. And, now He comforts her and wipes away her tears and showers her with joy that is inexpressible and filled glory, the outcome of her faith, the salvation of her soul. This is the LORD’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.

If you knew Helga, you knew her kindness and honesty, sometimes brutal honesty. Helga saw the world as it was and she called it that way. With Helga, what you saw was what you got, and you were never deceived or short-changed in any way, for Helga was who she was, and that’s an admirable quality that served her and others well throughout her life. Undoubtedly that quality contributed to Helga and Paul’s fifty-four years of marriage, for only couples who have accepted each other for who they are can last that long. It is a gift of God’s immeasurable grace.

That same gift of honesty was utilized in Helga’s various occupations, working in Accounts Receivable for AT&T in the city and later, in Carmel, for Guideposts magazine. But Helga also was a trusted and dependable worker at Gifts and Greetings in Pawling and as the President of the Lutheran Ladies’ League for eighteen years, our congregation’s post of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, and then as Treasurer of that same organization. Helga kept the books meticulously on a bazillion scraps of paper with notes and shorthand only she could decipher and she went to great lengths to make sure that every penny donated in LWML mite boxes was deposited and benefited the missionary organizations the money was given for, even to the point of exchanging Canadian pennies and quarters for U.S. currency at the going rate!

Helga was a fixture in this church, present nearly every Sunday until her health began to fail. She was dedicated to the work of the Lutheran Ladies’ League and she enjoyed knitting and needlepoint, making crafts for the Ladies’ craft fairs. She was equally committed to the American Legion, regularly helping out with functions there. In all these activities the servant heart of her faith in Jesus was on display. Personally, I remember fondly that Helga and Paul were the first in the congregation to invite me to their home after I arrived in Pawling almost ten years ago. When I arrived at the Drensek home, which is nearly a carbon copy of the church-owned parsonage I live in – hat-tip to Albert Frommhold – I was presented with a plate of German cold-cuts. It was delicious, especially on the dark rye bread, but I confess that I avoided the bloodwurst. Perhaps the Drenseks ate a lot of German cold-cuts, because, rumor has it, Helga didn’t like to cook. Ah well, no one can be good at everything. But, she loved her family, and I know that you loved your Oma, Mother, and Wife. Robert, Paul, Krista, your Mom & Dad raised you well and passed on to you their values. Paul, you and Helga have done well. Indeed, you exhibit the same qualities as Helga: patience, honesty, faithfulness, kindness, and hope.

I know the last five or so years have been somewhat less than what you would have liked in terms of health and mobility. Nevertheless, Helga did not despair or fall into hopelessness, for she trusted in her Lord Jesus to see her through, knowing that He who had suffered for her, suffered with her, and would never leave her or forsake her, but would see her through suffering into victory and life. Indeed, Jesus says that “whoever hears my Word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” In other words, Helga did not pass over from death to life this past Sunday morning when she physically died, but she had already passed over from death to life years ago, when she was baptized and believed in Jesus’ Word. And, Jesus promises you that “an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” This is the promise that Jesus has raised, and will raise you to new life too by the power of His Word. “According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” Dear family and friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, Helga would have you know that “the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is His faithfulness.” “For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though He cause grief, He will have compassion according to the abundance of His steadfast love; for He does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.”

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

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