Memorial Rev. Kenneth Babin September 17, 2022, Shoen & Sons F. H. New Orleans
Priscilla, Renee, Nico, Chloe, And Joey.
Family, friends, fellow servants of the word,
and all the dear Saints in the Lord gathered here, and via live stream.
Grace, mercy, and peace be to all of you. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
I know what you're thinking, “We shouldn't be here today.”
we shouldn't be here because Ken was too young to die from a disease such as Alzheimer's.
That's an “old persons,” problem, right?
He was a healthy, active, vibrant person. Who was always involved with something.
We shouldn't be here, because Ken should still be able to be a father to his children and a husband to his wife.
When they began dating in high school, I'm sure he and Priscilla never pictured this in their minds.
And when you two vowed to be Faithful until parted by death on your wedding day,
I'm sure you assumed it would be when you were much older and much grayer.
And as we learn from Genesis, and the creation of humanity in God's image, perfect and without sin,
we know it is not God's plan for us to be here today, mourning over KENS remains.
For he designed us to live forever in Eden, Paradise,
where we would live forever in peace and harmony with one another.
And where we would walk, and talk with God whenever we wanted or felt the need.
We shouldn't be here, feeling like we do, and mourning as we are.
We can identify with our Psalmist who says.
“My tears have been my food day and night.”
But here we are, trying to make sense of it all.
While the world might chalk it up to fate, karma, or bad luck, the human mind and spirit won't accept such random explanations.
We are a curious species, seeking to know the “why” and, “How” of every action and event in life.
We seek to know, and expect there to be a reason, for everything that happens in life.
And as Christians, we also believe that our very soul know they are not complete in and of themselves.
That we are not intended to be solitary creatures,
and that a part of us is eternal, even if we can't identify what or who that is.
But in faith, given to us through the Gospel of Jesus by his Holy Spirit, we know and receive that missing part, which is the Three in One God. Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Bestowed upon us in faith,
marked upon us at baptism,
and manifested in us through Holy Communion.
And so it is by faith, that those of us who believe in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, can understand this place in which we find ourselves, even if we can't fully accept it.
By faith in Jesus, we have hope, as we hear in Peter’s. Epistle.
A hope which, through the life of Jesus, shows us our future
and fills in some of the unknown things about the future that scare us.
And even before Jesus lived on this earth, the Psalmist had hope.
“By day, the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and by night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.”
In a way, is times like these in which life is affirmed, even more than at other times when it might be more expected.
If it weren't for an early death,
We wouldn’t be talking about Ken loving on his wife and children,
visiting shut Inns and the sick in the hospitals,
playing his trumpet with the Marigny Pops,
preparing his sermon for tomorrow,
and trying to figure out which football games wouldn't interfere with Sunday morning church this fall so that he could be a part of the fun in the Superdome.
And yet, because he has died, we are all here to not only celebrate the life he had,
but to hear about the life he still has in Christ Jesus.
A life that is not only free of the pain, suffering, and frustrations of this temporal life,
but a new life in which he is the fulfillment of what he was created to be.
Simeon in our gospel understood that I think.
Many times, as folks reach an advanced age, they get tired of living. And wonder, “why doesn't the Lord just Take Me Home?”
Perhaps their lives were, indeed, difficult.
And they are attracted to the sense of, “eternal rest” we speak of in times of death?
Or, perhaps, they have worked so hard to be faithful to God, they think,
“surely, Lord, I've done enough for you to let me enter into your Kingdom?”
But if we really listen to God's word, concerning our life after death,
it will be far from a life of idleness.
Nor do we buy our way in through holy living.
In fact, we had better be prepared for that day when it comes for us, because we will be busy!
Praising God Day and night.
And Revelation says there will be no night, for Christ will be our light forever shining.
And this means that we, who are created in God's image to reflect him to the world,
will now be joined with him once again, as Adam and Eve were in the garden.
To be his constant servants and companions, to be sure.
But, because of our connection to Jesus, coheirs of heaven itself.
And that is what Old Simeon was looking forward to.
The recharge of his spirit to praise and give God glory in heaven.
And to be forever blessed by his presence and light.
Not only was Simeon not afraid of death,
but seeing Jesus, the Messiah, the Lamb of God and Savior of the world,
he was filled with joy that his time had come as promised.
He would get to see God in person.
And he welcomed death, when God granted it,
so that he could begin that new life of holy praise to his creator.
Seeing Jesus as the Savior was the key to Simeon's outlook on life, just as it was for Ken.
Ken grew up like most Lutheran kids of his day did: surrounded by the faith.
Going to church and Sunday school.
Being involved in the youth group.
Surrounding himself with other Christian friends.
And marrying his best friend and the love of his life who shared his love for Jesus.
And Ken was one of a select number of men who heard a calling from the Holy Spirit to become a G-Man.
No, not a federal agent,
but even more important, God's agent to serve the world by becoming a pastor.
And by that calling, he had two important duties:
first, to strengthen the faith of others who had new life in Jesus,
and secondly, to tell the world around him Jesus’ love for all of humanity.
That, despite our sinful thoughts and deeds, he loved us enough to die on the cross for us in our stead.
To atone for all the sins of the world.
Both duties were joyful!
To celebrate with all the Saints their new life in Christ is exhilarating.
And to demonstrate that joy amid a broken world full of despair and full of darkness, is brave.
And it's by his attempt to be faithful to both these duties that you all are here today.
Though Ken couldn't say much to us these last few weeks, he speaks to us today through this service.
For family and friends, He says,
“don't worry about me. I'm fine. I'm with Jesus.
And he's holding you in his arms, aided by his holy Angels.
For his former congregants,
this is the faith Ken sought to teach you, and confirmed in you
that you also might proclaim and confess it loud and clear to those around you.
And for his friends who were not affiliated with the church or with Jesus, even, perhaps his words might be,
“See, this is what I was trying to tell you about...
This is how my faith in Jesus changes things.
This is why I was friends with you even though you didn't go to my church. I want you to someday join me.”
Sadly, I didn't get to meet the same Ken you all new and loved, so that last part is a little conjecture on my part.
But I know that Ken had a jovial spirit about him even on the confusing days.
And I know that he loved to make people smile.
And by his love of animals, I feel he had a gentle soul.
And I know that everyone I’ve met, of whom I could mention all these qualities, including Ken
even in the middle of difficult times,
had within them a peace that passes all understanding.
That peace is not just for Ken today as his eternal reward, but for you and me as well.
Regardless of our situation, God wants you to be at peace.
Whether it is grief, suffering, pain, or loss,
God wants you to know he will heal your wounds. Forever.
And if not in this life, then in the next.
If you are wracked with shame, guilt, or the knowledge of some wrong that you think keeps you separated from God,
know that the Jesus Ken knows has already forgiven you.
And by the power of his Holy Spirit will renew you, and cleanse your soul, if you will let him.
If you simply don't know about Jesus or don't believe in him.
You can replace that uncertainty about your future with hope.
And not just a wistful, wishful, hope like you might get on Christmas Eve before “Santa” arrives,
but a sure and certain hope that, because of what Christ did for Ken, and me, and you,
we can all be at peace today and the rest of our lives.
While the piece we have as believers may surpass all understanding. It is not yet perfect, because we have not yet been made perfect, as Ken has.
Priscilla, you, and the kids will have days ahead when that peace will be pierced by pain.
At those times, lean on the rest of us, and the entirety of the Body of Christ, his Church,
to ease your pain and deliver more comfort.
Fellow Saints in the Lord, your Faithful Shepherd has retired, but still serves the fold,
as he will have to give a report on your behalf to the judge on the last day.
Just as I and the other pastors before Ken will have to do.
So, give thanks to God for his faithfulness and,
if appropriate, establish some sort of remembrance or memorial to his service
to remind you of the noble task set before you by all the men who serve you in this capacity.
And finally, to all those unfamiliar with the faith Ken confessed and professed,
for Ken's sake, and in his memory, perhaps you will open your mind to scriptures
and allow yourself to learn more about this Jesus who led Ken his entire life
and, If, after giving Jesus a chance to enter your heart,
perhaps join him as a fellow baptized Christian,
so that you too can continue this eternal journey with Ken.
Like all preachers, Ken could talk, and I also tend to say more than necessary.
So, at this point. I'll conclude my comments so that we can finishing the task of commending Ken into the Lord’s care.
But know that I am happy to speak with any of you about these things in the future.
Whether you are a member of Saint Johns or not.
Because, like Ken, I too want to spend eternity with you as well.
May our time together today and the words we have heard, draw us ever closer to our Lord and Savior
Even as they draw us to one another in faith.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.