I guess that makes it 10 years ago that Grandpa Linkert entered glory. September 3, 1999. I don’t know that I thought about it much when the actual day came earlier this month, but I have had several opportunities to remember recently.
- A couple weeks ago a member asked me for the contact information for the WELS European Chaplain. That’s Josh Martin, who was the vicar who just arrived in Hastings in August ’99 and who (I was told) was arriving for one of his first solo hospital calls when Grandpa died.
- Every year at the start of catechism class, I explain to my students the way my grandparents found a new church when they moved to a new town. He used his catechism to determine the teaching of the church to which he would belong. I make the point that is was because of what someone learned in catechism class back in 1922 that I am standing in front of them—teaching the same catechism.
- Last week in Bible Information Class, in our lesson on the resurrection of the dead, we talked about the glorified bodies which believers will receive. I mentioned how Grandpa was pretty hopeful that he would get his thumb back. (He had lost his thumb in a farm accident.)
- Last week I finally bought a desk for our “extra” room upstairs. That allowed me to get out all my Model ‘H‘ memorabilia. It prompted my Andrew to ask questions about the tractor and my Grandpa, so we spent some time looking through old pictures. I noticed the picture of the barn repair that Grandpa and I did after the storm knocked in the wall of the feed room. We were both in the barn when the storm hit. We saw the pictures of Grandpa on the tractor with the whole family surrounding him at one of the reunions. And all the many pictures of Grandpa surrounded by kids, usually with someone on his lap. I imagine I’m not the only one of my cousins who wish that their kids would have had the chance to sit on Grosspapa’s lap.
- Today I was playing through next Sunday’s hymns. The Hymn of the Day is “Come, Follow Me, the Savior Spoke.” Grandpa sang a lot of hymns. But there are certain ones that I can remember the way it sounded while he sang them. This is one of them. He would sing while milking the cows. And in my mind, I can hear the way his voice sang the last words of each phrase, “a-bid-ing” and “guid-ing.” I don’t think I’ll ever forget that sound.
I could really go on and on with memories that I have of my Grandpa. But what’s really interesting is just how often I find some way in which his life and the time I spent with him influences my life. The examples above are just the obvious ones. That’s not even to mention the fact that Grandpa was certainly the greatest single influence on my decision to study for the ministry. And how many other areas of my life—church, home, you name it—are still impacted by the things I learned from him.
There is one thing, though, that I think goes beyond the others. My family will remember that mornings after breakfast was time for devotion. A Bible reading, Meditations (or Portals of Prayer), The Lord’s Prayer, Apostles’ Creed, Luther’s Morning Prayer. Every day.
I spent many summers out at the farm. Sometime after Grandma died (1986?), for at least one summer, I stayed with Grandpa in his room. I kept a journal for a good part of that summer, and I would write these insignificant details about the day, like where the cows were grazing and which field was being cultivated. I would regularly write the first and last things of each day. And it struck me how many times I would wake up to find Grandpa reading his Bible and I would go to sleep while he was still reading (Yes, with his face right up to the book with his magnifying glass in between). And then how many times Grandpa would mention whatever it was that he was reading sometime during the course of the day.
If there is one thing that I take as an example from my grandfather, it is this. That I would have such a love for the Word of God that I would keep it as my constant companion, from morning to night, whether I’m milking cows or tending my sheep.
At our family reunion in 1999, I had some time to talk with Grandpa. We were in the house. I think the bonfire was still going. We must have been singing a little bit, because I remember singing with him a hymn that I learned was the hymn he used as a prayer before worship. I have taken that as my prayer, too, as I prepare to serve the congregation with the means of grace each Sunday. That night we sang it in German, and I usually use the German, too, but here it is in English:
Lord Jesus Christ, with us abide,
For round us falls the eventide,
Nor let your Word, that heavenly light,
For us be ever veiled in night.
In these last days of sore distress
Grant us, dear Lord, true steadfastness
That pure we keep, till life is spent,
Your holy Word and Sacrament.
Oh, grant that in your holy Word
We here may live and die, dear Lord,
And when our journey’s ending here,
Receive us into glory there. (CW 541, st. 1,3,7)