Summary: A sermon preached for a friend who died tragically due to a car accident and drowning

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Dick Rowe, November 20, 2008

Grace be unto you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, through your Holy Spirit, open our hearts and minds to your Word, granting us a renewed and strengthened faith, that we might find comfort in your grace, and hope for the future. Enable us to trust in your gift of eternal life, accomplished for us through our baptism into the death and resurrection of your Son, Jesus the Christ, so that we might live our lives in the confidence of being reunited with all your redeemed saints in the life to come. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. Amen.

Let me begin my meditation by expressing to you, Dick’s family and friends, not only my own personal sympathy, but also the sympathy of our congregation. Although Dick was not a member of St. John’s, he did worship with us on a few occasions, and was known and well liked by many of our members. And so we share in your grief, and lift you in our prayers and concern, that God’s grace might bring you his peace.

I can’t tell you the shock that Josie and I felt Sunday afternoon, when Janet called to inform us of Dick’s death. While taking to Janet, Josie came over to where I was sitting and put her hand on my shoulder. I looked up at her and saw the look of unbelief in her eyes, as she struggled to keep her composure, and I knew that something terrible had happened. And when she hung up and told me about Dick’s death, we were both just numb, trying to absorb the reality of what we had just heard. And I’m sure that each of us here this morning are still feeling a little numb, trying to process the fact that Dick has so tragically died.

I came to know Dick through my association with the Reynolds VFW. Shortly after joining the Vets, I came in and took a seat next to Dick. Before my beer was on the bar, he turned to me and said, “Hi! I haven’t seen you before. I’m Dick Rowe. How are things going for you today?” I remember replying to him, “Hi! I’m Ron, and I’m doing just fine. How about yourself?”

We then entered into one of the most pleasant conversations, as I quickly discovered that Dick was a person who truly cared about people. And during our conversation Dick said to me, “Ron, now I don’t know if you know this, but I work up at Rowe’s Auto Parts, what do you do?” When I told him that I was the pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church, he put his elbow on the bar, and rested his head on his hand, and said “Really! Now you’re my kind of pastor. I’ve never known a preacher who would sit at the bar and have a few beers.”

Of course, over the years, as the people at the Vets came to know me, I developed a few nicknames, as a result of my profession. I’ve gotten used to answering to “Hey Rev,” or “Hey Preach,” or even “Hey Amen.” But Dick had a special nickname for me. He called me “Captain Ron.” I once asked him what he meant by that, and he said, “Some things just need to remain a secret.” And a secret it remains, even though I have always taken it as a term of endearment. Dick was too nice a person to have meant anything derogatory by his greeting.

And over the years, there have been times when I have asked him some questions about what I have needed to do to fix my vehicles. Dick even worked on my wife’s car, when she had an accident a couple of years ago on the way to work. But Dick also returned the favor. He would often ask me questions about theology and talk to me about his faith. Even though Dick may not have attended worship on a regular basis, he still was a person of faith, and truly believed in God and the redemption that we receive through Christ’s death and resurrection.

That is really why I am here this morning. I’m here to proclaim the Good News of our faith in Christ’s death and resurrection, a faith that Dick held to be true. And if I might, I would like to begin b sharing with you something that I have learned from my jet-set daughter. My daughter Amy, has lived and worked in many countries. She has lived in Maui, in Poland, in Switzerland, in Kenya, and currently, she and her husband are living and teaching in the international school system in Tokyo, Japan.

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