I T IS WITH SADNESS that we come together this afternoon. Each of us is saddened by the death of Bud Kaechele. He had and still has a special place in our hearts and lives and a lifelong relationship with this church.
We come with tears. Perhaps they are tears that well up from missing Bud. Perhaps, dare we say, tears of joy that Bud is now in the eternity that God has prepared. That the long, regressive, painful struggle of this life is over and he is now in the abiding presence of God.
There are many stories we can share about Bud. You’ve been sharing them. You’ve heard others this afternoon. When I hear stories like these, what comes to mind is the image of bearing fruit. When faith is planted in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, it is never something dull or idle. Faith is alive. Faith is serving God and serving others. This is what we heard where Jesus says:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”
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THIS IS WHAT Christian faith looks like. It’s not about trying to be perfect, to be the best in order to obtain God’s favor. It’s about knowing by faith that we are branches grafted in to the Vine: Jesus Christ.
When Jesus says this about vine and branches, he knows he’s about to be arrested, beaten, and humiliated. He knows He will die. He’s bringing comfort to His disciples so that when difficult times come about they remember who He is and who they are.
This is crucial. Who He is and who we are.
Who Christ is: Christ is the Vine. He is the source. He loved us first. He gave Himself for us. He is the Savior, the Redeemer, our Friend. Bud knew this. Bud was baptized. He was grafted into Christ. He learned, through a lifetime of growth in the church, that everything we have is from Christ. In all that we do out of faith, we honor and serve Him.
Who we are: We are branches. Bud also knew this. We are connected to the vine. We go out in faith and bear fruit. We serve at church, we serve at home. We help people. We serve our neighbor as a vehicle of God’s love. We abide in Him. We follow His will. We bear fruit, we bear much fruit. A living faith is an acting faith, bearing much fruit to the honor of God and to service of our neighbors. That is who we are and who Bud was. Loving. Serving. Honoring God. Abiding in Christ.
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COMMENTS from Facebook:
■ He will be missed, not only by our church family but by everyone who was lucky enough to have ever met him.
■ kind, wise, personable, sweet
■ His smile was infectious.
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WE LOVE LIFE; we like to live. But death will come to each of us.
Bud was well aware his life was short. I recall when he sat with me on the pew on Sunday over a year ago and said he had inoperable bone cancer. Living in Christ, as a branch of the vine, we don’t need to fear it. Bud did not want to rush death. But as time moved on, he no longer feared death.
We never need to fear it. We don’t need to fear talking about it. We don’t even need to fear planning it when the time draws near. Bud wanted to go to his heavenly home. And he planned parts of today’s service.
The reason: He knew — we know — death is not the end. There is more after it. It is the transition from this side of heaven to the side where God awaits us. As Bud called it, “drifting off into the mist” — when we will be reunited to our loved ones and live forever with Christ in eternal bliss and joy.