In Memoriam +Eugene W. Jaques+ 1921-2003 AD
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Eugene’s parents gave him a name. It became his Christian name when he was baptized. It means “well born” or “of good birth.” He was well born. And now he has died well. He has been well born anew. What was begun in the drowning waters of Holy Baptism has been completed. There is no more drowning, no more repenting, no more sorrow, no more death for him. The reward of Jesus’ perfect life, suffering, and death has been delivered to Eugene. His soul has been well born into heaven. He has passed through death’s womb and into life.
This day we place his body into the soft bedding of the earth. We lay him down among his people. But he will not stay there forever. He will awake. For he left this life in the trust that Jesus is the Messiah, that the One promised to Abraham, prophesied by Isaiah, and seen in David, God Himself became a Man for him. He believed and confessed that the innocent death of Jesus Christ was for his sins, that the resurrection on Easter morning was for his justification, that the Gospel preached by Paul was his salvation. Eugene is clothed in the righteousness of Christ. He is clean and pure, without guilt or shame. He is free.
Thus these mortal remains shall also be resurrected. They shall be perfected. And they will be reunited with his soul. Those with ears to hear will hear the trumpet blast on the last day and the Shepherd’s gentle voice beckoning: “Eugene, my son, come forth!” Like Lazarus before him, Eugene will walk out of the grave and into his Savior’s waiting arms. He will follow the Voice of his Shepherd, the One who laid down His life and took it up again. That Good Shepherd of Grace will lead Eugene, and all who trust in Him, out of the pen and into the Mansions of heaven.
Thus, though dead, Eugene lives, while we yet remain in this living death we call life. He has gone home. He has been released from sorrow, but our journey continues. And yet, even in your grief, you, too, have a Shepherd. He laid down His life and took it up again also for you. He fulfilled His Father’s will in order to bestow His Holy Spirit upon you. He began a good work in you when you were baptized into Him and He continues that saving work through Word and Sacrament still today. You have a Christian name. You have the Name of the Holy Trinity upon you. You have Christian hope, a future reunion, and a peace that passes all understanding because God Himself loves you.
The Voice of the Eugene’s Shepherd is heard in His Church. He still guides His children. He speaks in the reading of His Word, in the preaching of His Gospel, in the absolution of His people. We hear dimly, while Eugene now hears perfectly. But it is the same Voice, the same message of forgiveness and acceptance, of satisfaction and redemption. The Church sings one song, worships one Lord, confesses one Baptism.
Here is lasting comfort for those who mourn and sorrow. Death is not the end. The grave is not the enemy bu it will be emptied. For Jesus lives. That is God’s Word, the promise of Baptism. Those who believe and are baptized shall see Eugene again.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Rev’d David H. Petersen
Redeemer Lutheran Church
Ft. Wayne, Indiana