Obituary of Bertram Justus Naumann: (sermon address below)
Bertram Justus Naumann was born on June 19th, 1931, at Deaconess Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He entered God's kingdom of grace through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism three weeks later, being baptized by his father, the Rev. Paul George Naumann, Pastor of St. Jacobi Ev. Lutheran Church of that city. Bert received his entire education in church-sponsored schools. In May of 1941, when Bert was nine, his father was called to his eternal rest. A few months later the nation was at war. In order to support the family, his mother moved them to New Ulm, Minnesota, where she was employed as a house mother at a girl’s dormitory, Hillcrest Hall. Bert attended St. Paul’s Lutheran school. He was confirmed in the Christian faith on March 25, 1945. He attended high school at Dr. Martin Luther College in New Ulm, graduating in 1949. He enrolled at Northwestern College in Watertown, Wisconsin, for one year. He graduated from Concordia Lutheran Junior College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the following year. He completed his pre-theology and entered the seminary at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minnesota. It was at Bethany where Bert was to meet his future wife, Alice Marion Dahle, of Emmons, Minnesota. After Bethany, Bert continued his studies at the Wisconsin Synod Seminary in Mequon, Wisconsin, from which he graduated in May of 1957. Bert and Alice were joined in holy wedlock at Lime Creek Lutheran Church in Lake Mills, Iowa, on June 15th of that year. After this, Bert took up his duties at the two church to which he had been called by God: Calvary Lutheran Church of Marquette, Michigan, and St. Paul's Lutheran Church of neighboring Green Garden.
The early years of Bert’s ministry were tumultuous ones in the history of the Synodical Conference. False doctrine had entered the conservative Lutheran church. Teachings concerning the inspiration of Scripture and the origins of the universe were being corrupted and challenged in Lutheran schools, colleges and seminaries, and many resultant loose practices regarding the doctrine of church fellowship threatened the unity that had once existed in the Synodical Conference. Again and again the Wisconsin Synod delayed dealing with the false teachings of the LC-MS, and in the fall of 1959 the two congregations Bert served voted to suspend fellowship with the WELS. A number of other congregations around the US had taken the same action, and Bert began attending meetings of the group then known as the Interim Conference, later in 1960 to be voted its present name: the Church of the Lutheran Confession. Bert was a founding member of this new fellowship.
Bert served in Marquette from July of 1957 until December, 1966, when he accepted a call to Messiah, Milwaukee. He was pastor there through June of 1973, when he was called to Redemption Lutheran Church of Alderwood Manor, WA. He served Redemption for 27 years, retiring in May of 2000.
Bert served his Lord in the public ministry for a total of 43 years. Over that time he saw duty on numerous synod boards and committees, including the Boards of Doctrine and Trustees. He authored the adult instruction course, "Learn From Me," which has been used to instruct thousands of people in the basics of the Christian faith. Bert was always looking for new places to proclaim the Gospel - while in Milwaukee he was instrumental in the establishment of new congregations in Madison and Chicago. After moving to the Pacific Northwest, he had a hand in starting our missions in Ketchikan AK, Vernon BC, and Tacoma WA. Following his retirement, Bert was a faithful member and church officer at Ascension Lutheran of Tacoma. He continued to lend a hand with synodical affairs through active participation in conventions and pastoral conferences. The Pacific Coast Pastoral Conference, particularly, appreciated his wise counsel and steadying hand over the years - the conference that was meeting on the day he died was the first one he ever missed.
After a brief illness, His Lord granted Bert a peaceful death on October 7, 2009, at his home in Puyallup, Washington. His age was 78 years, three months and eighteen days. He was preceded in death by his father, Rev. Paul G. Naumann, his mother, Dora (nee Koehler), brothers Paul and Ben, and granddaughter Jesse. He is survived by Alice, his dear wife of 52 years, sisters Lois Neubauer and Eunice Roehl, children Paul (Carol), Ann (Scott Radcliffe), David (Desirae), Bruce (Paula), Gail (Allen Richardson), Thomas (Jennifer), James (Sheila) and Steven (Eve-Lynn), as well as 31 grandchildren, and many other beloved relatives and friends.
"Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Cor. 15:57.
Grace and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Comforting someone can be difficult. A loved one may come to us in rough shape. We see they need comfort, but we don’t know exactly how to give it. We don’t know what to do or what to say. We want to say SOMETHING, and we want to say the RIGHT thing.
We don’t want our words to be cliché. “Don’t worry, everything is going to be okay.” Sometimes things aren’t “okay”. Sometimes horrible things happen, and just having a positive outlook isn’t enough.
We don’t want our words of comfort to be empty. When a famous person dies we hear things like, “He will live on forever in the hearts and minds of all who knew and loved him.” If my wife or one of my daughters were to die tomorrow, DON’T comfort me like this. Memories are fine, but they aren’t the person.
When words of comfort can’t be found, people may try to distract their loved ones instead. We might be told, “Don’t dwell on their absence but on all the good times that you had with them.” And there’s some comfort there. Some wisdom. For the Bible tells us to focus on the good, and not on the bad (Philippians 4:8-9). But even the best of distractions are of limited value. We can’t live the rest of our lives walking backward, gazing into the past.
I hope that I haven’t offended anyone here by saying these things. For there is some comfort in these things I’ve mentioned, just not enough.
(Pastor holds up a box of band-aids. Out of it he pulls a very small square one)
If we were to comfort a friend by using these things alone, it’s be like putting this band-aid on an amputated limb. It doesn’t cover much, and can’t do anything to heal the wound.
Full comfort, lasting comfort, for ourselves and for our loved ones can only come through Jesus Christ. That’s what the apostle Paul says to his Christian friends living in Thessalonica.
In First Thessalonians, chapter 4, Paul writes…
13But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
15For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18Therefore comfort one another with these words.
The apostle Paul knew the Christians who lived in Thessalonica. He had preached the message of Christ to them.
The book of Acts tells us that when Paul came to Thessalonica he first taught about Jesus in the Jewish synagogue. To the Jewish bible class. And through Paul’s preaching, the Holy Spirit convinced some of the Jews that Jesus was the Savior.
But the majority of the congregation in Thessalonica was made up of Gentiles. Pagan people who had come away from worshipping idols to worship the true God. In Thessalonians chapter one it says…
“…you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).
Paul was concerned. These new Christians had come from pagan backgrounds. Who knows what kind of superstitious nonsense they still believed. Apparently, some thought that Christians who had died would somehow be left behind when Christ returned.
We know from inscriptions on ancient tombs and from the pagan literature of the day that the pagans viewed death with horror because they believed that it was the END OF EVERYTHING.
Paul didn’t want these people to grieve for Christians who had died as if they would never see them again. So Paul reminds them, that IF Jesus died and rose from the dead, that means that all our friends in Christ who have died in faith WILL BE THERE when Christ returns.
For those who trust in Christ, death is not the end.
Paul talks is absolutely certain that all who trust in Christ are guaranteed a place in heaven.
He DOESN’T say, IF our loved ones HAVE SUFFERED ENOUGH in purgatory so that their sins are all burned away, then they’ll join Jesus on the last day.
Paul DOESN’T say, IF the living have done more good than bad by the time Jesus returns THEN they’ll be accepted by Him. This kind of thinking has NO PLACE in Paul’s message.
For those in Christ, salvation is not in question.
Those in Christ have a sure hope. Not because of anything we have done. We’re sinners just like everyone else in the world. God is holy, and we are anything but. We have taken God’s love and squandered his blessings, and we deserve nothing but suffering now, death later and hell forever. Bert would have agreed.
But Jesus took our sins away when He died on the cross. He suffered in our place and used up the judgment that would have fallen on us. And by faith in Him who died and rose for us, our future has been changed.
That’s why Paul wrote,
“…the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23b NIV).
That’s why Peter wrote,
“…the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame” (1 Peter 2:6b NIV).
That’s why Jesus Himself declared,
““I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).
The future of those in Christ is secure. That’s why Paul can tell the Thessalonians, exactly what their future will be.
When Jesus descends from heaven. There’s gonna be a lot of noise. Our Christian brothers and sisters will rise from the dead. Then any followers of Christ who are still living will join the newly resurrected to meet Jesus in the air where we’ll begin our eternity with Him.
Because this is the Lord’s Word, our resurrection and reunion with Christ and all our fellow believers is inevitable. This is no BAND-AID, no pie in the sky, no distraction to cover up the horror of death. Christ declares death’s power destroyed. Christ HEALS the deadly wound called sin.
Paul says, comfort one another with these words. So, I’m going to keep it simple today. I’m going to say to you,
…for Bert, death is not the end.
…for Bert, salvation is not in question. We know what He believed and preached throughout His life. His hope of forgiveness and life was in Christ alone.
…for Bert, his resurrection and reunion with Christ is inevitable, and the next Naumann reunion he attends is gonna be something else.
There is sorrow today. We feel it, because we wish that Bert was here, even as we are glad that he is not. But our sorrow is not like that of the pagan world. Our sorrow is temporary, because of Christ.
I’d like to say one more thing. There is a large group of people here, and I do not know you all. In our Bible reading, Paul talks to his fellow Christians. These are Paul’s words of comfort FOR THEM.
Perhaps you do not trust in Christ. If you don’t, know this. He wants you to have this comfort also. For God desires that all people be saved, and come to a knowledge of the truth. Jesus died not only for our sins, but for the sins of the whole world. If you are a sinner, then Christ died for you. Trust in Him.