Dorla Mae Nienhueser Funeral
Dorla Mae Nienhueser
Rev. D. K. Schroeder
September 12, 2005
Congregational hymns (from "The Lutheran Hymnal")
200 "I Know That My Redeemer Lives"
660 "I'm But A Stranger Here, Heaven Is My Home"
376 "Rock Of Ages, Cleft For Me"
616 "Forever With The Lord"
"In The Garden"
(sung by several members of the congregation)
The order of service: The Funeral Service from "Christian Worship--A Lutheran Hymnal"
TEXT (vs. 1-3): “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
Today we have come together to remember the life of one very special lady. Dorla Mae has touched each of us in a very unique way, and indeed we shall all miss her.
As Dorla Mae’s pastor, my role in her life allowed me to get acquainted with her on a very deep and personal spiritual level. She was a charter member of our congregation. I remember very well our first worship service. Dorla Mae and Ken were among the first to arrive. And after the service was over, she came to me in tears and gave me one of the biggest hugs I can remember. She told me over and over how much she enjoyed our worship service, and how happy she was to be there.
From that time on, she was a very active member of our congregation. Dorla Mae and Ken rarely missed a worship service or a Bible study unless they were out of town. If there was a pot luck dinner, she would always bring a couple dishes to pass. She donated various items for our church kitchen. And as her strength would allow, she would do her part helping with the church cleaning. When the season was right, she made sure we had fresh flowers for the altar.
She always was quick to remind us how happy she was to be a part of our church family. She pretty much adopted us all as her children and grandchildren, and she made sure we all got our share of hugs.
One of the things she loved so much was singing hymns. She told me that she loved them all; and even if it was an unfamiliar one, it never seemed to phase her at all—she could pick up the tune and sing along with no problem. We discussed the details of this service while she was in the hospital. The hymns we are singing today were among her favorites; and we can almost imagine her in heaven right now singing them right along with us.
Today we are conducting a Christian funeral. The whole purpose behind a Christian funeral is to give a public testimony of the faith of someone who has passed away. When a Christian dies, the Bible gives a great deal of comfort and hope to family, friends, and loved ones who remain on this earth.
Our text for today is one that can give us a lot of comfort and hope. Jesus is speaking to his disciples about his ascension into heaven, and that there would be a place—a mansion would be prepared for them and all believers. This mansion would be in the paradise of heaven where there would be no more pain or suffering or sorrow or tears or anything negative at all. This mansion would be her home for all eternity. This was something of which Dorla Mae was absolutely certain, and it is something of which we can be absolutely certain as well.
So how can we be so certain? How can we eliminate our doubts and fears when it comes to death? How can we be prepared for that day when we shall meet our Lord face-to-face?
To understand all of this, we need to look at the world around us, and see what God tells us in the Bible. We know that the world isn’t a very pleasant place a lot of the time. There seems to be so much evil in the world, so much hatred, and so much pain. We can sometimes get the impression that God isn’t there; or if he is, that he just doesn’t care. We can get so focused upon the evils of the world that we fail to look through it all and see the good. We can get so wrapped up in our selfish view of things, that we ignore God’s good intentions for us. God doesn’t act the way we think he ought to, and so we get mad at him. It’s like the teenage girl who thinks that her parents are the meanest people on earth by not letting her go to an un-chaperoned party or a rock concert. But of course, they’re acting in her best interest, and not trying to be mean.
The evil in the world has one root problem, and that is sin. Sin is in the world, because it is something that humanity invited in. Man chose to ignore God and what was best, and opted for the way of his own will. And when imperfection entered into a once perfect world, everything started to go to pieces. Humanity’s relationship with God was ruined.
The Bible speaks about this problem of sin quite frequently. Romans 3:23 puts it quite bluntly: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We are all sinners—everyone! That includes you, me, Dorla Mae, and the entirety of the human race. We are all sinners. We have all disobeyed God and gone our own way. We have chosen things in our lives which are not God’s will; and in so many ways we suffer the consequences either directly or indirectly. So many times we only have ourselves to blame for our problems.
With sin being such a prevalent thing in our lives, we need a way out. And it’s here where we need to look to God again. When we do this, we don’t find God shaking his finger at us; rather we see him with open and outstretched arms. We find a God who loves us and wants us to spend an eternity with him. God doesn’t want to send anybody to hell, so he makes the way to heaven easy.
If we look once again at Romans chapter 3, we read once again what was in verse 23; but this time I’ll add the words of verse 24 to it as well: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
God sent his only begotten Jesus to this earth to be the Saviour from sin, both for us and for all of humanity. We know we can’t be perfect on our own; but Jesus lived the perfect life we could never live, and then he suffered the punishment we by our sins deserve. He did this, so that through nothing but simple faith alone we would be saved. Through faith in Jesus, and only through faith in Jesus, Dorla Mae was assured of her heavenly mansion.
Dorla Mae knew she was a sinful human being, like everyone else. But Dorla Mae knew her Saviour, and knew him well. She believed without a doubt the promise Jesus made to her when he said in the Bible, “I go to prepare a place for you…that where I am, there you may be also.”
Faith in Jesus as our Saviour is the important thing. Faith is the thing that saves. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
As Christians, we are to do good things. We are to seek to do the God-pleasing things in our lives. We do so out of love for what Jesus has done for us. But without faith, good works would never save us. If we had to rely on good works, how could we ever be sure if we had done enough to get us into heaven?
So God makes things very simple for us. Just have faith in Jesus your Saviour, and that’s all that’s needed.
Dorla Mae understood this very well. As good as she was, and as many good things as she did, she knew that it was her faith in Jesus that would take her to heaven. The line from one of her favorite hymns, “Rock of Ages” (which we will be singing right after the sermon) has this line: “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.”
I’ll share one illustration I used at Bible study that Dorla Mae really liked. Picture it—Grandma Jones, a lovely old gal. She loved her grandchildren, baked them cookies, she fed her cat, and double-tipped the paperboy. In every way she seemed to be the epitome of a nice lady, a good neighbor, a fantastic grandma, and a model citizen. She died, and she’s in hell. Why?
The answer is, that she didn’t have faith in Jesus as her Saviour. She thought that by being a pretty good person, she should be okay. But she was lacking faith. She chose her own way over God’s way.
Dorla Mae knew the right way. Even though her body was weak and feeble, her faith was vibrant and strong. And so we can be assured that she arrived safely into her Saviour’s waiting arms. Throughout the time I’ve been her pastor, and especially during these last weeks of her earthly life, she gave testimony of her faith over and over again. She indeed was ready to meet her Lord whenever he called her home.
One of the things Dorla Mae loved to do was to share her faith. She knew she was going to heaven, and she wanted everybody she knew to be there with her. She would be continually telling others about her church, and about the love shown amongst the members. She wanted others to know Jesus the way she knew him, and to experience the blessings he had to offer. Yes, she was going to heaven and she wanted everyone else to be there with her. This was the wish that she expressed right up to her dying day.
Dorla Mae wants to share eternity with you. The only way that is going to happen is through a personal faith in Jesus Christ as your Saviour. There is no other way. In John 14:6 Jesus says: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The old expression is true—the road to hell is paved with all sorts of good intentions; but there’s only one way to heaven, and that’s through faith in Jesus.
Allow me to share the picture of heaven recorded for us in Revelation 7. The picture is of a huge multitude of people of every age and race, all in white robes, holding palm branches. We read now verses 13-17: “Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?’ I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”
Dorla Mae with her flowers and hugs has inherited that mansion Jesus has prepared especially for her. She is now in paradise. We thank God for the time that he gave her on this earth, knowing that our lives have been enriched by her presence and influence.
OBITUARY OF DORLA MAE NIENHUESER
Dorla Mae Nienhueser (nee’ DeWoody) was born on November 18, 1929 in Megargel, Texas, where Dorla Mae’s father worked in the oil fields. She was the second oldest child of Frank Ward DeWoody and Eva Wilhamena nee’ Schmid.
When Dorla Mae was 2 years old, her family moved to Elkins, Arkansas for a short time. Following that, they moved to Rising City, Nebraska where Dorla Mae grew up. She was baptized and confirmed at the First English Lutheran Church in Rising City.
In 1943, Dorla Mae moved with her family to York, Nebraska; and in 1946, she graduated from York High School.
On March 22, 1946 she was united in marriage to C. L. King; and to this union, three children were born. Dorla Mae and her husband continued to live in York, where they raised their family. She worked there as a seamstress with her mother, and she also worked for the cleaners in York. Then in December of 1974 her husband passed away.
Her son Criss introduced her to Kenneth C. Nienhueser of Seward; and three weeks after their first date, on August 10, 1975 they were united in marriage by the Methodist pastor in York. Dorla Mae then moved to Seward with her husband Ken, where she lived the rest of her life.
Then, after various medical complications, on September 7, 2005 at the Sundermann home in Seward, Nebraska, the Lord called Dorla Mae to her heavenly home at the age of 75 years, 9 months, and 19 days.
Dorla Mae loved serving her Lord, and was very active in her church. She loved to travel, and in later years, she enjoyed many wonderful trips with her husband Ken. She also loved to dance. Her famous curio cabinet in her home housed many items with cherished memories attached.
She is survived by her husband Kenneth Nienhueser of Seward; sons Criss Lee King and Ricky Lane King of rural Seward; a daughter and son-in-law Sherry Lynn and Steve Petersen of Yucaipa, California; grandsons and granddaughters-in-law Bryan and Melinda Petersen, and Brandon and Novis Petersen; great-grandchildren Christina, Christopher, Cheyenne, and Kya Petersen; step-daughters Vicky Copenhaver of Walhalla, Michigan and Amy (Mrs. Earl) Chapman of Gahanna, Ohio, step-grandchildren Angelika and Kira Chapman, a sister Betty Jean (Mrs. Ham) Leigh of Phoenix, Arizona, and a brother-in-law Leon Nienhueser of Waco, Nebraska.
Dorla Mae was preceded in death by her parents Frank and Eva DeWoody, her first husband C. L. King, brothers Kenneth Robert and Floyd Dean DeWoody, and a step son-in-law, Christopher Copenhaver.
BLESSED BE HER MEMORY