Max Gloeckler Funeral
Rev. Dr. D. K. Schroeder
1 Peter 1:3-8 Sermon
September 18, 2010
"Blessed Assurance" (now playing)
"Here I Am Lord"
"He Leadeth Me"
TEXT: " 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls."
In Christ Jesus, dear Selma, family and friends of Max Gloeckler:
There are two basic ways to look at things. A person can either be a pessimist or an optimist. The distinction between the two is frequently described as the pessimist seeing a glass half empty, and the optimist seeing a glass half full. To carry this thought a bit further, an optimist can look at something, and automatically see something better.
I think this is a good way to describe Max's basic philosophy of life. For example, Max had a great love for woodworking. He could look at an old broken piece of furniture, and picture in his mind what it would look like after it was restored. Or, he could pick up a scrap of wood that most people would burn or throw away, and picture in his mind a toy, or an ornament, or a trinket of some description. He then had the ability to take that vision of something better and turn it into reality.
Max's family remembers the acreage north of Lincoln, and the horrible state of affairs it was in when he and Selma bought it. But Max pictured something better. He knew it had great potential. And so through hard work and perseverance, that vision of something better became a reality.
The vision however included more than just fixing up a piece of property and some buildings. Together Max and Selma turned this acreage into their home. The love and optimism it took to accomplish this is what made that vision of something better a complete picture.
The fact that we are here today would be of no surprise to Max. He knew that his body was wearing out. A lot of things were going wrong. He had serious issues with his heart and blood circulation, and his health was declining. He became unsteady on his feet. He knew that his days upon this earth were limited. But Max had a vision--a vision of something better. And today, we are celebrating the fact that his vision has now become a reality. That reality is what I am here to share with you.
The section of God's Word I have chosen to share with you on this occasion are the opening words recorded by the Apostle Peter in his first general Epistle. Peter wastes no time in sharing a vision of something better for the future. He calls this a "living hope." It is the actual and sure promise of the inheritance of heaven. This is something given purely by God's grace and love through faith in Jesus Christ. This is the goal of the Christian's faith, something that fills us with "an inexpressible and glorious joy," something that is so good that words cannot adequately describe it.
Faith is the key element in all this. In the Epistle to the Hebrews, chapter 11 verse 1 God gives us a short definitive statement of exactly what faith is. "1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Take special note of those two words "sure" and "certain."
In the Bible, God gives us his promises in absolute terms. Listen to the words Job uses in chapter 19 verses 25-27: "25 I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. 26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; 27 I myself will see him with my own eyes-I, and not another." There's no doubt in those words, not at all! Job is absolutely certain of his heavenly home. He knows all about the Saviour God has promised who will pay for his sins and bring him into everlasting glory. Job knew that his vision of something better would be a reality.
Even small children are well acquainted with this. The Sunday School song goes "Jesus loves me, this I know." We don't sing, "Jesus loves me, this I guess," or " Jesus loves me, this may or may not be true." The absolute certainty of faith is something a child learns early on, and will carry with them throughout their life.
Today we can look at those promises God has made, and know for certain that they have become a reality for Max. And that leads us in to the two key purposes for a Christian funeral.
First, it is a comfort for his family and loved ones. Because of his faith in Jesus Christ his Saviour, we have the absolute guarantee that Max is now in heaven, inhabiting the mansion God had prepared for him. That is the goal of Max's faith; and for that, we are indeed thankful.
The second purpose is to serve as an example for those who are here to mourn his passing. Max is in heaven right now; and I know that he'd like nothing better than to share that with you, his family and friends. Max enjoyed spending time with those closest to him here on earth. Spending an eternity with him in God's kingdom would be a joy beyond compare.
There are many stories and anecdotes about Max--74 years of them. We knew Max as a man of good character and strength. He was a kind and loving person. He can easily be described as a great husband, father, grandfather, neighbor, and friend. He also had a great sense of humor, and the ability to bring a smile or a chuckle to those around him. Max touched many people in many different ways. And if we were to start sharing stories and experiences, we could easily be here all day.
But there's the other side of things too, and it's a side that we dare not overlook. Max was a sinful human being. Because of his humanity, we know that sin affected him just like it does everybody else. This might not be something we like to think about, but it is true. And this is something that Max realized all too well. Max was keenly aware of his flaws and imperfections. He was able to examine himself according to God's standards, and see how he hadn't measured up to the perfection God requires.
But it's like I mentioned before, Max always had a vision of something better. From the depths of his sinfulness, Max had a vision of his Saviour, Jesus Christ. He experienced the love and forgiveness Jesus gave him. Max had a relationship with Jesus through faith alone, and that relationship filled him with that inexpressible and glorious joy Peter talks about in our text. Through faith in Christ Jesus alone, Max is receiving the goal of his faith, which is the salvation of his soul.
The Apostle Paul summarizes this message of sin and grace so well in his Epistle to the Romans, chapter 3, verses 23-24: "23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." This was the reality of Max's Christian faith.
Max knew that all of his good works would not get him into heaven. The old favorite hymn "Rock of Ages" has a couple lines that remind us of that fact: "Not the labors of my hands, can fulfill thy law's demands," and "Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling." There's nothing we can do to work our way to heaven. Heaven is not something we earn. Heaven is only for those who cling to their Saviour Jesus Christ through faith alone.
The Apostle Paul puts this all into perspective in his Epistle to the Ephesians, chapter 2, verses 8-9: "8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- 9not by works, so that no one can boast."
I don't remember exactly when it was that Max asked me to preach for his funeral, but it was at least several years ago. And after that, we talked about it on various occasions. On one of those occasions, and I'm not sure if Selma even heard this, Max took hold of my arm and looked me square in the eye. In a very determined voice he said, "Pastor Dan, I know you'll give it to 'em straight."
You see, Max didn't want me to stand up here and give a 20-minute eulogy about how good of a person he was, or ramble on with a lot of meaningless sentiments.
Max wanted me to tell you about his Saviour Jesus Christ who loved him so much, that he went to the cross to pay for his sins. He wanted you to know about God the Holy Spirit who reached down from heaven and gave him the gift of faith in his heart. This God-given faith is what enabled Max to know Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour from sin. Max's vision for something beautiful in the future came only by looking through the eyes of faith to the cross of Christ.
Max's relationship with Jesus meant a lot to him. Even on those days when he was ill, and it would have been far easier for him to stay home, he still came to church. He came forward as a penitent sinner to receive the true body and blood of his Saviour in Holy Communion; and he went back to his seat with the absolute assurance that his sins had been forgiven through what Christ had done for him. He came to God's house and to the Lord's Table to strengthen his faith, and build his relationship with his Saviour. His entire life was a reflection of the love with which God had blessed him and poured out abundantly upon him.
Today, Max wants me to share his vision with you, his vision of something better, his vision of heaven. This vision is now a reality for him, and it can be for you too.
To get into heaven, a person cannot come to God with a pile of good works or a fat checkbook. A person can't get into heaven by a preacher mumbling a lot of meaningless platitudes or empty sentiments at a funeral. A person can't get into heaven by good wishes or by praying over a dead body. After a person has died, the time of salvation has expired.
There's only one way to heaven, and that is by a personal faith in Jesus Christ. No other non-Christian religion or personal philosophy will work, regardless of how sincere or devout the person is. When Jesus is our personal Saviour, then the victory he won over sin, death, hell, and the grave is ours through faith alone. Because he lives, we too shall live. We shall live forever with him in heaven. Through Christ Jesus, this is our vision of something beautiful, and it is our eternal inheritance. This is what Max is enjoying now, and this is the spiritual inheritance that he wants to share with you.
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace
According to thy Word;
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people.
A light to enlighten the Gentiles,
And the glory of thy people Israel.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Max Leroy Gloekler
Max Leroy Gloekler was born on July 8, 1936 in Denver, Worth County, Missouri, the youngest of five children of Martin and Alma Ellen (nee' Bridges) Gloekler.
Since work was scarce in Missouri, Max moved with his family to Havelock, Nebraska when he was four years old. Even though times were difficult, and the family couldn't afford the luxury of electricity or indoor plumbing, Max's father was still able to construct a new home with the help of his uncles and neighbors. They also planted a large garden, and built several out buildings for the livestock. Max remembered the small Jersey cow they had. His Uncle Fred McNeese called her a "coffee cow" because she couldn't produce much more than about a coffee cup of milk.
Max always enjoyed sports, especially baseball, basketball, and football. He participated whenever he could while he was growing up--just as long as the family garden was tended, and the chores were done. Max particularly enjoyed playing marbles, and became the V.F.W. Marble Champion of Lincoln in 1950.
Max attended Norwood Park Elementary School, Havelock School, and Lincoln Northeast High School.
During the Korean conflict, Max enlisted in the Armed Forces 11th Airborne Division in 1953. When home on leave in 1955, his friend Bob Lorenson organized a blind date with a young woman by the name of Selma Hansen, who would be the love of his life. Because Max was too young to get legally married, he brought a note to the courthouse from his mother giving her permission. Since Max was from out-of-town, the judge "bent the rules" and gave them the wedding license. And because Max was unemployed and broke, Selma paid the two dollars for the marriage license (Max always reminded her that it was the best investment she ever made!) He always said that they started with nothing and still had most of it left. On May 4, 1957 Max and Selma became husband and wife at St. John's Lutheran Church at Kronborg, NE , and to this union three children were born.
During their married life, Max and Selma first lived in an apartment in the Country Club area of Lincoln, and then moved to an apartment in University Place later on. Following this, they lived on a farm near Hallam, Nebraska, on a farm near Waverly, Nebraska, and an acreage north of Lincoln, Nebraska. In their retirement years, Max and Selma returned to Havelock and purchased a home on 71st and Morton Streets.
Max worked for 26 years as a Parts and Service Representative for National Crane Company in Waverly. He also worked for the Nebraska Department of Roads and Earl Reddish farms. Max enjoyed working in the soil as a farmer, a hired hand, and a gardener. He also worked with livestock and raised feeder pigs. Max's mother had wanted him to become a pastor; but since he was never able to achieve that goal, he hoped that the time he spent being a shepherd would suffice. Max also had a special gift and love of doing woodworking, and restored many pieces of antique furniture. His family and friends will remember all of the handmade items he gave as gifts, including cradles and toys. As a full-time retiree, he continued to do his woodworking. The grandchildren all made special projects in his wood shop that they will cherish forever. He also continued to collect marbles.
Max was known for many things. He had a great sense of humor, he loved to tease, and engage in good-natured practical jokes. He had a unique gift of being able to converse with just about anybody, and nobody would be a stranger very long when they met him. He always had good advice and words of wisdom for his grandchildren, whether they wanted it or not!
Max enjoyed spending time with his family, and was always proud of their individual accomplishments. He would take the kids fishing on the creek bank where he spent most of his time baiting hooks. He would get into tickling matches with grandchildren Jenny and Austin; and even though they would be in tears, they always wanted more. Monday night football games were a regular event, with popcorn, Pepsi, and friendly bets on the game. And the entire Gloekler family will always remember the grand family reunions Max and Selma hosted on their acreage starting in 1985.
Everybody has their own unique memories of Max (or "Uncle Bub" as he was fondly known). Grandson Rick remembers Grandpa's attempt at shooting a badger. He missed the badger, but made a nice sprinkler out of the garden hose instead! He shared many good times with his next-door neighbors Larry Riha (his "partner in crime") and his wife Jeanne (who always said: "Don't trust those baby blue eyes"). He also enjoyed the time he spent with his long-time friends, Bob and Bernice Lorenson who have celebrated every Christmas with Max and Selma since 1957.
Max and Selma have been active members of Evangelical United Lutheran Church in Havelock. Max helped with clean up (when he was able), and the LOGO program. He could also be found in the kitchen washing dishes for the funeral committee. Max always wished he could have done more for the church. Max also received the Sacrament of Holy Baptism at United in 2002.
After battling a long-time illness, on September 14, 2010 at his home in Havelock, Max was called to his eternal heavenly home at the age of 74 years, 2 months, and 6 days. Left to mourn his passing are: his wife of 53 years Selma, his children and their spouses: Daughter Debra and her husband Richard Bales Jr., Son Lynn Gloekler, and Daughter Brenda and her husband Kerry Anderson, his grandchildren: Rick Bales III, Jennifer Bales, and Austin Vachal; and his great-grandchild, Mason Bales. He was preceded in death by his parents, Martin and Alma Gloekler, one brother Eldon, and three sisters Mary Louise Broman, Kathleen "Dutch" Bushnell, and Lee Wilde.
BLESSED BE HIS MEMORY