Gary Odenbach Funeral
Rev. Dr. D. K. Schroeder
Job 1:21-22 Sermon
July 18, 2016 

TEXT:  "And [Job] said, 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.'   In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.

            In the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ, the one who died that we might live eternally, dear family and friends of Gary "Odie" Odenbach:

            Have you ever complained about God?  Has something happened in your life or in the life of somebody you know that has caused you to turn your eyes upward, and say, "Why are you doing this to me, God?"  Have you ever muttered under your breath, "Well, God has never done anything for me."  If words like these have never passed your lips, or if you haven't had these thoughts, then you are probably not human. 

            We've all tried to figure God out and why things happen the way they do.  But because our brains and our logic are flawed by nature, we will always come up short. 

            The Prophet Isaiah was well aware of this.  In chapter 55, verses 8-9, Isaiah records these words: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

            The text I have chosen for today's sermon are words we all have probably heard before: "The Lord gave, and the Lord taketh away."  How do we reckon with that?

            We're all on board when it comes to the Lord giving.  When everything is going along smoothly, we actually don't give a whole lot of thought as to why that happens.  When everybody is healthy, and we have a job, and we have a home, and we have a car or motorcycle, and we have enough money to get by and maybe a little extra, then we are happy with what God is doing. 

            But in Job's life, things weren't going all that smoothly.  He had met with one disaster after another.  In the midst of all this, Job speaks the words of our text:  "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."

            As we consider the life of Gary Odenbach, I never met him before.  Some people might be tempted to look at me and say, "Eh, he's just one of those dime-a-dozen rent-a-preachers.  What does he know?  What kind of sentimental God-babble is he going say?  How can he talk about somebody he's never met with some degree of intelligence?"

            I'm not going to stand here and pretend to know what I don't.  That's why I like to spend time with those who are closest.  In Gary's case, my preparation time has been brief, roughly an hour or so last evening.  But I listened, and I noticed.  I have an idea of what kind of person he was.  And I also know that he meant the world to Cathy and his family.  He will be missed dearly. 

            But death is inevitable.  The mortality rate amongst human beings is now, and always has been 100 percent.  You can expect your loved ones, each and every one of them to die someday.  You can expect to die someday yourself.  And it never seems to happen at a good or convenient time.  It's always a hassle.

            When this happens, it's always difficult to keep things in perspective.  We tend to focus ourselves upon what the Lord has taken away.  The Lord allowed a loved one to die.  And so we lament.  "The Lord has allowed me to be lonely and to grieve!  The Lord has left me in a difficult situation!"  Oh yes; we are tempted to lash out at God and blame him for making our lives difficult. 

            We can certainly look back and see how the Lord has blessed our lives.  But what about now?  Where's the blessing in all of this?

            The thing we need to remember is that the Lord doesn't take something away that he doesn't promise something far better in return.  He has not left us as orphans, as the Bible says.  He has not deserted us.  He has not forgotten us.

            What the Lord promises us, is that he has prepared a mansion in heaven for all who are true believers in Christ.  John 14, a portion of which I read earlier, is where Jesus speaks these words of comfort to his disciples.  He is going to leave them soon, and that won't be easy for them to accept.  But it is far easier when there is the light of hope shining through everything.

            The future in heaven is a guaranteed reward of faith.  It is not something we can work for, or strive to get.  We don't have to get there by the sweat of our brow or the labors of our hands.  We will get to heaven through faith in Jesus Christ alone.  He is our only Saviour.  He is our only hope.

            There are those proverbial rent-a-preachers out there who will say just about anything you want them to say at a funeral.  They'll pat you on the back and tell you everything is going to be okay.  They'll tell you to take comfort in the memories you have of a loved one.  They'll rattle off a bunch of empty sentiments and meaningless platitudes.  And they'll even go so far as to tell you that it doesn't really matter what a person believes.

            Then they'll wax on at length about what a good person the deceased was, and that God will let them into heaven based upon whatever good things they might have done.  And when it comes to Jesus, according to them he was just a great moral teacher who showed us a better way to live.

            That's not the Christian faith, nor is it anything that remotely resembles it.  Only the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  And as sinful human beings, that's what we deserve.  That's where we are.

            But remember that God keeps on blessing us and giving to us.  He gives us the guarantee of a heavenly eternity though faith alone.  And when our last hour is upon us, we can close our eyes knowing our future is secure.

            If we're honest about it, we can see just how much the Lord has given to us in this life upon the earth.  We have been blest beyond belief, and we have received much from the loving and gracious hand of our God.  Even though we are undeserving sinners, God still loves us and richly provides for us.

            It is very clear that Gary came from a Christian home and had a Christian upbringing.  In obedience to the Lord's command, Gary's parents knew the importance of having him Baptized. They promised before God and a congregation of believers that they would bring him up in the training and instruction of the Lord.  And as he grew up, he affirmed his faith in Jesus when he was confirmed.  He knew that the Lord loved him and promised him an eternal mansion in heaven.

            The Lord also gives us the promise of heaven, so that all who believe in Jesus their Saviour will live in paradise forever in the mansion Jesus has prepared.  That promise is for you and for me.  That's a promise that gives us hope.  And that's a promise that we can share with the unbelieving world around us.

            The directive is simple.  The Bible says that if we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as our only Saviour, we will be saved.  This is no empty promise or meaningless platitude.  This is a reward of faith, and not something we have earned on our own.  It's not what you do or haven't done that's important; it's what you know and believe in your heart.  And it can't get any simpler than that.

            As believers in Christ, we can say right along with Job, "The Lord gave, and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the Name of the Lord!  

            This morning, I'm going to close with a short poem entitled "Ride On Angels' Wings:"

Gone now but not forgotten
Forever in our dreams
Everyday the Sun shines for you
Everyday the roads are dry
The straights go on forever
The bends are as you dream
There are no more pains 
There are no more worries
You will be there at every party 
You will take part in every race
You will stand there on the podium
You will race with the stars
You will ride upon Gods pillion
And if angels ride on Harleys 
Then you will surely travel far
On earth you were my brother
And now you are a star
So glide on heavens highway
And lead the train up front
One day you will be waiting
And together we will ride
Once more again as Brothers
The white line side by side


Gary John "Odie" Odenbach, son of Enoch Odenbach and Pauline nee' Kummer was born onOctober 30, 1951 in Minot, North Dakota.  He entered God's family through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism shortly thereafter at First Lutheran Church in Minot.  He later affirmed his Baptismal covenant through the rite of Confirmation at Our Saviour's Lutheran Church in Page, North Dakota.

Since Gary's father was a school teacher, the family had itinerant residences during his growing up years.  Gary attended primary school in Dodge, North Dakota, and attended Junior High/High School in Page, North Dakota where he graduated in 1969.  Following that, he attended North Dakota State University in Fargo for a year, and Minot State University in Minot for a year.

He began working summers for the Burlington-Northern Railroad (now Burlington-Northern Santa Fe, or BNSF), and became employed full-time by them in June of 1971.  In keeping with his employment, he moved to Lincoln in 1990.  Due to thyroid cancer and other health issues, he went on long-term disability with the railroad in 2007.

OnApril 16, 1977 Gary was united in marriage to Catheryn Ann Olson, and to this union four children were born.  The family lived various places in North Dakota including Page, Castleton, Fargo, and New Rockford; and in Nebraska in Eagle, and Lincoln at Quail Ridge and Edenton. 

Gary enjoyed life to the fullest in many ways.  He loved motor cycles, especially his "trike."  He also enjoyed horses, country-western music, Terry Redlin paintings, hunting, boxing, Husker football, different types of dancing, bird watching, singing, and reading.  He loved the "old hymns," and enjoyed hearing his mother sing with her quartet.  Of his variety of tattoos, he and his sons and one daughter have matching "Odie" tattoos (the cartoon character) depicting his nickname.  He also loved to travel, and he did so frequently. 

Family and friends were an important and vital part of Gary's life.  He especially adored his grandchildren, and went to a wide variety of athletics and school activities.   He would also frequently entertain people at his home with plenty of food and drink, and would also host many pool parties.  He made friends easily, and loved to visit.  People would comment that he was easy to talk to, and he always said exactly what he meant.  There was never any question about what he thought; indeed, a very genuine person.

OnJuly 11, 2016 while traveling through Townsend, Tennessee, Garywas involved in a traffic fatality and departed his earthly life at the age of 64 years, 8 months, and 11 days.

Left to mourn his passing are:  his wife Cathy; sons and daughers-in-law Shane Christopher (Janel) and Cody Jacob (Kelly);  daughters and son-in-law Pauline Carol (Jeff) Clark, and Kelsey Kate Odenbach; grandchildren Baleigh, Logan, and Sydney Clark; and Kiah, Denzel, and Cruzito Odenbach; one sister and brother-in-law Bonnie (Dale) Temple, and 5 nieces and nephews.  He was preceded in death by his parents.