This is the sermon I preached for the funeral of my father-in-law last November. He was a great blessing and influence upon me along with his wife, Mary, and my own parents.
Farm, Family, Faith
Funeral Sermon for Robert Edward Bauer
Saturday, November 9, 2013
Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD, according unto thy word. Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments… The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver. (Psalm 119.65-66, & 72)
Dear Mary and all the children, grandchildren, great grand children and friends and neighbors of Robert. I am glad to be here today and so glad that we can gather together in the name of the Lord to thank Him for all the blessings we received from God through His servant Robert and also that we can ask God to help us serve Him and reach the same heavenly home that God has prepared for all who believe in Him.
How God Has Blessed Us All Through Robert?
I know that all of you have, in many different ways, experienced blessings from God through Robert. My personal experience began when God allowed my to meet his daughter Carol and eventually be married to her and to become part of this family. I was blessed to see how Robert considered himself a servant of the Lord. He served the Lord in his devotion to his farm, to his family, and to Jesus.
The summer after we were married I worked for Robert and got to know him fairly well. I admired how he worked so steadily and wisely. He was always thinking ahead, and he was always ready to try new ways to improve. He loved the land, the cows and the horses, and he saw all of these things as great blessings from the Lord that needed to be managed with care.
Robert loved and cared for his family even more than that. He knew the gift that God had given him in his wife, and though he teased and sometimes aggravated her, he loved her and knew he wouldn’t have accomplished anything without her. To see how he loved his children of each generation you only had to watch his face and to see how happy he was whenever they could be around. He always worked to instill in them the same faith and wisdom that God had given him. He loved his extended family as well, and it was always one of the highlights of his life to make that long trip back to Illinois to see the kin up there!
To be very honest, from my point of view, it was his faith in Jesus that was the greatest blessing for me. Sunday morning always started on Saturday night as he got out his Bible and prepared to teach the adult Bible study. He was a good teacher of God’s word, and I still try to use his methods. I remember how closely he stayed with the text, line by line, word by word. Whenever the class ventured into speculations he would often bring them back to the inspired word. What does it say? What has God called us to do? What has God done for us? For the rest, he would say, “We’ll have to wait until we get to heaven.”
How God Will Continue to Guide Us in Our Lives?
That brings me to the second question I want to answer in this message, and the one that I know Robert would like us all to really think about: “How will God continue to guide us in our lives?”
We can’t just look back. We have to look forward. More important than that, we have to move forward in faith. There are so many ways that we can go astray; and Satan, and the world, and our own sinful natures are more than happy to separate us from God, from what is true, and good – from life itself. My greatest concern for myself personally, for my family, and for the church is that we are tempted to think that as long as were not quite as bad as the culture around us, we’ll be okay. This culture is sinking, and it is sinking fast. You will never reach the goal of faith if you just try to stay above it. God has called you and me to a better way. With the writer of Psalm 119 we need to pray: “Teach me good judgment and knowledge.”
That is what God has given us in His word – and particulary in the Word made flesh – Jesus, the Messiah. Jesus Christ came into this lost and sinful world and redeemed it by being perfectly obedient to God, by teaching the perfect will of God, and by giving up His life as the perfect sacrifice for every last one of our sins. That is the way of life. That is the way of everlasting life. It is better than anything. It is better that all the pleasures this world offers. It is better, as the psalmist says, than thousands of coins of gold or silver.
The last time I rode with Robert in the pickup he and I were driving through Winnie. As we drove past the Arboretum Nursing Home, he said, “I’m going to be there one of these days, but God will be with me.” Not long ago I got to spend a few days with him there even as he was battling the fraility of his body and the feebleness of his mind. I tried to imagine what was going on behind his eyes as we talked. I imagine he was fighting against some kind of fog, some confusion that takes over as life begins to ebb. He was trying to stay connected to this world. He was trying to realize why he couldn’t go home. He was trying to live while the body was trying to die. But when I would say, “Robert, let’s have our devotions.” Immediately his big hands came together to listen and to pray. Those were the hands that so often held the saddle and the reins, the hands of his wife and children, and his big black Bible. They were the hands of the soul that holds one gift that even death cannot take away – the gift of faith in Jesus. He certainly would agree with our psalm, “Thou hast dealt well with Thy servant, O LORD, according to Thy word.” May the LORD deal well with us according to His word. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Obituary for Robert Edward Bauer
Robert Edward Bauer, 85, of Winnie, died Wednesday, November 6, 2013, at The Arboretum of Winnie. He was born on June 1, 1928, in Jefferson County, to Ruby Louise Gaus Bauer and George Richard Bauer. Robert was brought to Jesus in Holy Baptism in 1928 at St. John Lutheran Church in Hamshire, Texas. He publicly affirmed his faith in the Rite of Confirmation in 1943 at St. John Lutheran Church in Beaumont, Texas. Robert was married to Mary Heiner at St. John’s in Beaumont on June 26, 1949. He and Mary, along with other area Lutherans, helped establish Hope Lutheran Church in Winnie, Texas. He loved to teach adult Bible class and Sunday school. He was a prayerful and generous supporter of many Christian ministries and Christian educational institutions.
Mr. Bauer was a cattle rancher and farmed rice in the area for many years.
Mr. Bauer was involved in many organizations within the community. He served on the Board of Regents, at Concordia Lutheran College in Austin. He established an endowed professorship in religion at Concordia, as well as a music scholarship in memory of his daughter, Marilyn. He was a representative of the Lutheran Church Extension Fund; President of the Texas Rice Improvement Association for twenty five years; Hardin Jefferson Independent School District School Board, President; Coastal Cattle Association Board of Directors, President; Gulf Coast Bank Board of Directors; East Chambers Agricultural Historical Society, President; ASC Board of Directors; Vice President of Southeast Bancorp of Texas, Inc.; Director of American Rice Growers, Beaumont Division; and LCMS Foundation Board Alternate.
His many honors include Concordia Lutheran College Christo et Ecclesiae Award of Excellence; Concordia University Christo et Ecclesiae Award of Excellence; Texas Rice Festival Honoree; Texas Rice Festival Pioneer Farmer of the Year; FFA Honorary Chapter Farmer and Honorary State Farmer; Friend of Texas A&M Agriculture; Winnie Area Chamber of Commerce Agricultural Award.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Heiner Bauer of Winnie; son, Jack Bauer and his wife, Christie, of Winnie; daughters, Carol Walther and her husband, The Reverend Michael Walther of Maryville, Illinois; Janet Taylor and her husband, Tim Taylor, of Houston; and Linda Bauer of Austin; grandchildren, Gerald Bauer, Sherri George, Jennifer Abshire, Brandon Erickson, Katherine Dube, Emily Penney, Jonathan Erickson, Aaron Walther, David Walther, Paul Walther, Stephen Walther, Lydia Walther, Travis Taylor, Everett Taylor, and Grant Taylor; nineteen great-grandchildren.
Mr. Bauer was preceded in death by his parents; daughter, Marilyn Erickson; and brothers, Orland Bauer and Leroy Bauer.
A gathering of Mr. Bauer’s family and friends will be from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m., Friday, November 8, 2013, at Broussard’s, 134 West Buccaneer Drive, Winnie. His funeral will be 10:00 a.m., Saturday, November 9, 2013, at Hope Lutheran Church, 9th and Leblanc Street, Winnie, with interment to follow at Fairview Cemetery, Winnie.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to one of the following: Hope Lutheran Church, P.O. Box 701, Winnie, Texas 77665; East Chambers Agricultural Historical Society, (Ag Museum), P.O. Box 1715, Winnie, Texas 77665; or to Concordia University Texas, 11400 Concordia University Drive, Austin, Texas 78726.