Home from the funeral. What a testament to a life well-lived. Friday night at the visitation it seemed as though the people would never stop coming. Because there was such a long wait to go through the receiving line, people were ushered to a pew to sit until it was almost their turn. One of the ushers told me the sanctuary was filled and emptied about 2-1/2 times. The visitation was scheduled from 4:00 until 7:00 but went until almost 9:00. I felt sorry for the family, who must have been exhausted, but I appreciated their willingness to do what they did for the sake of all who loved Pastor Freudenburg and needed this opportunity to say goodbye.
The funeral itself was magnificent. I think there must be few things as grand as an historic old church filled with the sound of God's children singing. For my readers who may be curious, the hymns were "A Mighty Fortress is Our God," "Chief of Sinners, Though I Be" (sung by a men's chorus that included my husband and older son), "Thy Strong Word," and "For All the Saints."
Evan, my youngest, did not have the opportunity to get to know Pastor Freudenburg well. When I told him we would be going to a funeral this weekend he reacted quite negatively: "I don't want to go to a funeral!" He has been to two already this year, those of his paternal grandparents. But as we waited our turn at the visitation he became impatient not because he was tired or bored but because he wanted to see Pastor. I'm glad we waited until the end because he stood for quite a while looking at Pastor's body and resisted when I tried to move him on: "I'm not done looking at him yet." The next day at the funeral he was quite bothered that the casket was closed and he couldn't see Pastor again: "I can't remember what he looks like." I assured him I had lots of pictures.
Evan is still trying to figure out this death thing. Aren't we all.
The sermon, delivered by Rev. Dr. David Peter of Concordia Seminary-St. Louis, was Christ-centered and cross-focused. Rev. Freudenburg was Rev. Peter's pastor when he was a little boy, and after he grew up and attended seminary Pastor Peter joined Pastor Freudenburg on Trinity's staff. Pastor Peter began his sermon by reviewing some of his history with Pastor Freudenburg, but then he stopped and said that he could hear Pastor Freudenburg whispering in his ear saying, "What are you doing? Why are you talking about me? Tell them about Jesus and what HE has done!" And that's what Pastor Peter did.
It was a whirlwind day, but a good one. We were unable to go to the committal or stay for the funeral luncheon because of duties at home. But we had the opportunity to see many old friends from our time at Trinity. In spite of not being all that far away, we have not been back many times over the last 10 years. I found great comfort in seeing many familiar faces and realizing that for the last 10 years they have been there, receiving the blessings of Word and Sacrament and loving one another through the trials and heartaches of this life. That's what being a church family is all about.
I know that Pastor Freudenburg's salvation has nothing to do with the way he lived his earthly life. But truly, this was a fine man, and his family can celebrate and take comfort in the knowledge of all the souls that he shepherded in his time on earth. God used him to point many to Christ. May he rest in peace.