see each other again at his right hand before the seat of justice of almighty God, may God grant the grace. — Amen.
After the sermon some verses from the song "Rejoice, O My Soul" were sung. Then Pastor Lange delivered the following address from the altar.
"Blessed are the dead, who die in the Lord." An unusual start, this. But it means "Death is the payment for sin," and those who do not have Jesus must subserviently live in fear of death their entire lives. Thus death is the beginning of eternal justice.
It is otherwise for those who die in the Lord Jesus; for them it is blessed. This has been told to us by the Lord Jesus, who knows all things, Matthew 5. Those who are blessed shall attain the kingdom of heaven, they will be comforted with divine consolation and will be provided for with the riches of the house of their God, thus it may be said that they will never again experience lack. They look upon God and thus become indescribably splendid, as St. John bears witness: "we," as we believe, "will be similar to him."
Indeed it is a heart-rending event when a beloved husband and father reaches for the hand to depart this world; who can put this pain in words, which those left behind feel. The announcement of the death of our most treasured and beloved senior has filled many other hearts with sadness, his true students and church children may be counted among those who know what he was to them in this life, how he taught them, comforted and cared for their souls as no one else was capable of doing. Therefore such pain is more deeply felt as is indeed the case with the dissolution of certain relationships. His departure is an irretrievable loss.
To get through this we need not look to ourselves but to him. The Holy Spirit imparts to us that those who die in the Lord should not be mourned. Such death is blessed. Grant that and do not lament too strongly.
It cannot be my task here to set forth what it is to die in the Lord and what we are to make of it.
But this much exists without a doubt, that the Lord Jesus was the center of his entire existence; his daily existence revolved around the Lord; the Lord remained his one and all unto his last breath. We all know this because as our spiritual caregiver this is what he taught. Just as he understood how to concern himself with the spiritually sick, so must one concern himself and amid that concern find the grace of Jesus as the sole comfort and force to life. And thus he was blessed, for he is now with him to whom he held fast. Grant him this.
"Indeed the spirit says that they find repose in their work." The recently departed in God put forth much trouble and work. Demands from all sides claimed him. Responsibility for the congregation and the synod rested on his shoulders. And he worked untiringly day and night. Even in the last stages of his illness his rigorous spirit, driven by the love of Christ, could not rest. And there was no sign of feebleness in his instructions. Now the Lord himself has given him his own evening off; He has released him from service. Now he may rest, rest in the bossom of God after his completed day of work. Grant him this peace.
"For your works follow after you." There are some among his enemies who will say: When his works follow after old Grabau, then perhaps blessed existence is not such a marvelous thing. However, judge not! God sees all paths in the heart and I am thoroughly convinced that the blessedly departed in God never did anything which in his conscience he was not truly convinced he had to handle the way he did. He had a clear conscience in everything that he did and he never stood at odds with his actions. For he, in accordance with his God-given gifts, became the true householder of God's secrets in his loyalty to the church and he stood unflinchingly despite all enemies. Even his most embittered opponent would not deny him this claim. Indeed his works do not follow after him as an accusation but as a beautiful crown, for he brought many to righteousness. It is only our task to follow him loyally and never to pale before the acknowledged truth he brought us, just as he never paled before the last hours of his life. So help us God. Amen."
After the singing of more verses of the same song, Pastor Hennicke of New York gave the following address:
Psalm 34, 23: The Lord redeems the souls of his servants; and all who trust in him will bear no shame.
A church funeral is an acknowledgement of the communion and membership in Jesus Christ. For us it is thus comforting and joyous that our ministry has found far greater numbers than anticipated from both near and far and that the loving, mournful congregation has filled its house of God with so many mourners, offerings and purposeful intentions. It bespeaks well of the love of the congregation that it spared no expense in providing a coffin for the dear remains of its blessed, departed pastor. It seems as though a prince or a victorious hero is being brought to the grave. No wonder, my beloved, for it is a confessor, one who acknowledged the name and words of the Lord Jesus, one who will spend his eternal rest in this coffin until the day of splendid resurrection. It is a professor whose name is known and significant in the Lutheran Church of all countries. So many carry the blessing of this departed teacher and confessor in their hearts and in their ministry, even those of us in farthest-reaching circles.
The Lord redeems the souls of his servents; so it has gone for this warrior of the Lord Jesus in his eternal peace. What we have here before us, this deseccated body, so small and wasted, we bury as the past, earthly instrument of the deceased; but his work and the fruit of his spirit we retain. The blessed Pastor Grabau was a remarkable figure for the entire Lutheran Church. To this day we find traces of his holy senior ministry in the old fatherland where in his profession as a true Lutheran pastor he traveled the provinces of our Prussian fatherland, Saxony, Silesia and Pommerania, in summer and winter, at day and night. So many faithful Lutheran congregations were started and fortified by him despite the persecuting state authorities. I myself was an eye and ear witness in Erfurt; how blessedly people still reflect on holy Pastor Grabau's splendid service to God, how people remember his administration of the sermons
and the sacraments beneath the cathedral at the fortress wall in the moonlight despite the persecution. How people have remained mindful of the wonderous path upon which the Lord guided his servant with such certainty. What a blessing from God presided over the road from Erfurt to Heiligenstadt guiding the true members of the St. Andreas congregation to and from Erfurt. They treasured their good fortune when they could see and speak to their true shepherd and spiritual caregiver in his prison.
Indeed, beloved brothers of the ministry! His spirit, his faith, his trueness to office, his love for his Savior remain among us. "Stand firm! Stand firm!" was the last advice from his dying lips. Oh! It would be a crime if we were to lightly surrender to thieves this treasure, which we acquired through his true service, his conscientous battle and especially his sacrifice. Some have departed with thorns in their consciences, proceeding their way and bearing the weighty fruit of their arrogance and their disloyalty. Stand firm! Stand firm, dear brothers in the office of our ministry! Let us not pass into forgetfulness what was given to us by the grace of God through the blessed senior minister in regard to pure teaching through his true steadfastness in proper understanding of God's Word in accordance with the true beliefs of the Lutheran Church.
And you, dear loving congregation, how he so loved and worked for you as a true servant of the Lord Jesus! How happy and content, how modest and hospitable was our blessed pastor. How caring and conscientious he was in dealing with us. With a fervent passion for the truth how quickly he could forgive when he saw that someone repentantly turned to the Lord. His confirmational admonitions will remain strong and sanctifying for many. Some will blessedly remember how he knelt with them in prayer as they spoke their marriage vows before him. How often did his prayer at the sick and death bed bring healing to poor troubled hearts!
And just as our pastor himself was part of us, so is his entire family. His dear wife didn't just become involved in external matters because she was his wife but because she knew and was convinced that he proclaimed God's loving Word truthfully and conscientously and he lived in accordance with it. Thus with us she participated in the loyal service of his holy office
for the sake of his proper profession of faith; thus she followed him through all trials with love and loyalty and now she mourns with us over our and her departed pastor.
And his beloved children, who grew up among us, are part of us. The blessing, which both his sons impart in holy ministry, one so seldom sees today; this comes as a boon to us.
And what a holy end this true servant of God attained. The Lord redeems the soul of his servant and those who belonged to this servant. In thinking of him one may reflect on what St. Paul wrote to Timothy in the second epistle, Chapter 4 verse 17: "The Lord stood by me and fortified me so that the sermon was established through me and all heathens heard. And I am saved from the jaws of the lion."
Our dearly departed one is saved from the jaws of the lion, who so often snarled at him during his many years of ministerial life. For the Lord Jesus, his loving Savior whom he served, of whom he preached, for whom he suffered and strived, He has sheltered and maintained him. For him there was nothing more than his savior and lord, whom he trusted with his heart. When he was still a preacher at the St. Andreas Church in Erfurt he met Bishop Dräseke in Magdeburg; the bishop praised him for his true preaching and his blessed work in God. He said encouragingly to him: "Pastor Grabau, with your sermons you have sparked renewed life in Erfurt, continue doing this so that all darkness will disappear from Erfurt through your true service." Pastor Grabau responded: "My Bishop! In accordance with the profession of faith in the Lutheran Church?" — "In accordance with the directives and the wishes of his majesty the king; otherwise I can not protect you in your ministry," said the bishop. Pastor Grabau answered: "But the Lord Jesus, whom I serve, will protect me, My Bishop." Thus Pastor Grabau left Magdeburg, he left Germany and for 40 years he has resided under the protection and shield of his loving Lord, Jesus, in this land; The name of Jesus was the last word to come from his dying lips as his soul was redeemed from the emaciated body, which lays here before us as a dessecated vessel. Under this shield he waged battle and was victorious. "Jesus" was his last utterance; with this name he went into eternity.
Text provided by the Reu Memorial Library, Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa - Call No. BX8080.G72 G7
Imaging and Translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks
Edited January 20, 2006