When Simeon took the child Jesus into his arms, he knew it was time to go. Where was he going? Simeon was going to be asleep in Jesus. We don’t know exactly when he fell asleep in Jesus, but he knew it would be soon.
When Stanley Jensen received the Lord Jesus in his baptism, in the Lord’s Supper, and in the preaching of the Good News of forgiveness of sins and eternal life that was his by virtue of Jesus Christ, he knew that his time to go was soon. Last Wednesday Stanley’s time occurred. 95 years, four months, and sixteen days is a long time to wait. Ruby went to be with the Lord 23 years ago this summer. The cry of both the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant is “How long, O Lord, how long?” The answer for Stanley came last week. Now.
Stanley was prepared. Not long before his death he received the Body and Blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper. His sins were forgiven. He was reminded that Jesus died for his sins and rose from the dead that he, too, will rise like his Lord rose. He prayed the Lord’s Prayer with me. He said his “Amen” to the prayers. And, as always, a crisp, “Thank you, Pastor!” when the service was finished.
If anything, we should be the ones saying “Thank you” to Stanley. Like Simeon, Stanley was righteous and devout. Yet Stanley was righteous and devout not because of what he did, but because of what Jesus had done for him. Stanley’s service to God, to his country, and to his family and friends was actually Jesus Christ in action. The love that Stanley had for others shows the love Jesus had for Stanley.
A personal example not known by many was shown to my family in the summer of 2012. Orville Mueller and Stanley Jensen spent several days in the parsonage next door laying laminate flooring. Stanley was 89-years-old at the time. There he was, on his hands and knees, laying floor boards. What is more, Stanley also helped Orville move my wife’s upright piano from one place to another that summer in the parsonage. When my wife Becky looks at her piano, she thinks of Stanley putting all his strength into moving that piano.
We all have at least one Stanley Jensen story like that. Stanley’s life of service was caught up with the life of service that our Lord Jesus Christ did for him, for you, and for me. That life of service has come to an end. Yet the life of service that Jesus does for us has no end.
Simeon knew that when he sang my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples. This child he now holds in his arms would grow up to save both the Jews and the Gentiles. His perfect life, His holiness, His righteousness, His innocence, His joy, His blood, His resurrection, all that Jesus is and does is to save His Father’s people from their sins. Stanley confessed this to be true every time he came to church when he confessed one of the creeds. Jesus did all these things for me. Jesus lives for me. Jesus gives me a new life in the hope of the resurrection that Stanley now sees on another shore and in a greater light.
Today your eyes see Stanley’s body that will be lowered into the grave next to Ruby. One day soon, you will see that same body rise from the grave with Ruby, with his parents, with Gaylord, Ronald, and Robert, and all those who have gone before us in the faith. Their bodies will be changed. They will be forever with the Lord. All those who cling to Christ as their only hope for salvation will join them, rejoicing in a family reunion unlike any other that lasts for eternity.
Stanley’s last words to me a couple of weeks ago were “Thank you.” Perhaps I should have thanked him. Even better, let us thank God for His good work of salvation for Stanley. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for making Stanley Your precious child. Thank you for keeping him steadfast in Your Word and Sacraments. Thank you for serving us through him.