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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

11202012 Funeral Sermon for Leo Clifford Hatcher

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer!!  AMEN!!

Let us pray!  Gracious Heavenly Father, as we gather here to celebrate the life of Leo our brother in Christ, we who remain on our earthly pilgrimage are reminded that Leo has found the peace of Jesus Christ.  No longer do the struggles of this life bind him, because in, through and by his baptism into Your life, death and resurrection, Leo now rests in Your loving and comforting arms.  May You through Your Gospel enable our hearts to hear Your Word spoken in its truth and purity and comfort us as we mourn.  For though the veil of death separates us today from Leo, we are sure of the certain promise You made to us in our baptism that in being baptized into Your death we are certainly raised with You in Your resurrection.  Comfort us with this thought and let the salve of Your Gospel message that called Leo by name in his baptism surround us so we may hear clearly the Gospel message of the salvation offered through Jesus Christ innocent death on Calvary for all Your saints, especially the saints of his family gathered here at Emmanuel to say goodbye.  AMEN.

In August 2010 I first set foot in Western Kansas and this pulpit to preach my ‘interview sermon’.  Not only did I preach a sermon, but also a children’s message.  What is ironic is that the Gospel lessons for that Sunday used the simplest, but the most abundant item in Western Kansas in summer and connects us today with biblical times.  You see the lesson revolved around something that Leo was very familiar with and which all of Western Kansas depends upon to make a living.  It isn’t water, which farmers like Leo so desperately need today.  The Gospel revolved around wheat.  Hence, when I arrived Kent and Shelly Willems provided me with a mason jar full of good Western Kansas wheat and I used it as the object of my sermon illustration for the children’s sermon.

Fast-forward two years and this morning we say good bye to a Mid-Western born baby transplanted to the fields and plains of Western Kansas who became a renowned farmer who made his livelihood growing wheat.  Yet our connection today is not just to the farmer, but the story of wheat itself.  In John 12, Jesus Who had just raised Lazarus from the dead enters into the Holy City of Jerusalem encountering the Greeks who desired to see Jesus.  Our text for our consideration continues in John 12:23-26:

John 12:23-26 - 23 And Jesus *answered them, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. 26 If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.


Jesus Christ, knowing the truth of what was to come after the Passover feast clearly says that “the Son of Man will be glorified”.  Jesus knows He is going to the Cross and reveals what for some is a great mystery, but for a farmer like Leo is a well known truth.

Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone”.  We in this life feel alone today of all days when we have come to say goodbye to Leo.  Death has come very close to us and has taken a man we knew and loved as husband, father, grand-father, brother and friend away from us.  But Jesus with the divine knowledge of the Father knew of a different reality that only by faith can we lay claim to.  Jesus continued, “but if it [that is a grain of wheat] dies, it bears much fruit”.  When that grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, just as has occurred earlier this fall when the farmers planted in faith their fields of winter wheat, so to in faith we lay Leo to rest today with full military honors.

But we don’t lay Leo to rest today in doubt or despair, but with a faith that God has given to each and every one of us in our baptism the gift of eternal life.  The day Leo was baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Leo, like the wheat was dying to self in order to ‘bear much fruit’. That is the opportunity that God gives each and every one of us today to bear much fruit.  Jesus goes on to say, “If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me” and Leo served, not only with the Co-Op and the Elks, but in many capacities like the United States Air Force.  As a Crew Chief of a B-47, Leo understood his life as service and bore much fruit in serving our country, state, region and community representing not only Western Kansas, but also modeling for others what ‘bearing fruit’ as a humble ‘wheat farmer’ really meant.  This fruit was a direct result of God active in his life.  For some they only saw the outward always active farmer, but God Who sees the heart of all of us, knew Leo more intimately than even Connie and was working out Leo’s salvation.  God through His Son Jesus Christ would glorify Leo and today we celebrate that glorification in Leo’s entrance into eternal glory with His Lord and Savior.

You see the fruit of God that is Leo’s is sitting here this morning.  The fruit of Leo’s ‘wheat’ is all of us coming to pay our final respects for the child of God that Leo became, because of Jesus Christ in his life.  The fruit also is manifest in his loving family who sat by his side and walked with Leo on this final journey, not to death, but to life eternal.  Clearly the journey has not been easy these last years, but God in calling Leo in, through and by his baptism, has today brought Leo into His eternal presence as a fulfillment of the promise made in his baptism.  That is the same promise made to each of us because of Jesus Christ death on Calvary for all of mankind.  It was Jesus Christ willingness to Glorify the Father that He suffered and died for Leo and for all of us.  We therefore, are not only fruit of Leo, but ultimately fruit of Jesus Christ and His death on Calvary, and all of us are partakers of the gift of eternal life that we share through Jesus Christ. 

May we who gather here today as ‘fruit’ see and understand God’s gift through our baptism into Jesus life, death and resurrection, which is made manifest in Leo’s life and honor and lay claim to the promises of God for all of mankind, especially all of the saints of Leo’s family and all of us gathered here to say goodbye.  AMEN.
Now may the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding guard our hearts and minds and comfort us today, because of what Jesus Christ did for Leo and each one of us!  AMEN!
//trial script