Committal for Gerhard Jentsch

01. June 2024
Committal for Gerhard Jentsch
John 12:23

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.

In the holy Name of + Jesus. Amen.

When Jesus uses metaphor and simile, He does so for your benefit. He borrows illustrations from both town and country. This is because His Gospel is for all people, of every people, nation, and tongue, and we might add urban, suburban, and rural. Because the promise of forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation in Christ Jesus is universal, Jesus teaches in a universal way. Often, the less clear passages of scripture are so only because our context is different.

I’m confident that our brother Gary appreciated the occasional hunting metaphor and the frequent references to fishing. Jesus called fishermen to be His disciples, even borrowing their old vocation as He called them to a new one, “fishers of men.” As followers of Jesus, we’re all given to be fishermen, not of the fish of lake and sea, but in the proclamation and support of Christ’s Church. Gary heard the call to the waters and labored on those waters through both turmoil and calm here, at our high school, and in the seas where the LORD took him.

In this community, the agrarian pictures are especially vivid. We’re still surrounded by fields, and our congregation includes farmers’ families. We understand Jesus well when He speaks of a grain of wheat falling into the ground and dying. We call this planting, and most of our crops are in now, except what flooded last week. Those seeds fell or were put into the earth dead but will come to life and bear manifold more seeds. Gary knew both the grain for seed and the fruits of the harvest in his decades as mill manager at Kettle Lakes Co-Op. It’s a beautiful picture of how God brings life out of death, as surely as the death of winter gives way to the life of spring. 

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” Jesus is speaking first of His death. He is that grain of wheat that falls to the ground and dies after suffering and dying death for our sins. But He did so according to the Father’s will, foreknowledge, and purpose. He paid the full penalty for every sin, Gary’s and ours, and thereby defeated death and hell for us. 

But He did not remain in the grave! He rose triumphant on the third day! As that single seed germinates and sprouts, first the shoot, then the stalk, and finally the ear in its fullness, so the Father raised Christ from the dead, He the first fruits of all those who have fallen asleep. Jesus, our seed, brings forth life and abundance. He takes root in our hearts, raising us from the death of sin to life in His name. 

“He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.” Our lives are given to be a pattern of Christ’s life. This work He began in Gary in his Baptism, nurtured in him through Word and Sacramental gifts, and will bring to completion on the last day. Gary was given by Jesus to be a blessing and as blessed. 

Just as Christ was laid to rest in His tomb, so today we lay our brother Gary into the earth. But just as the grave could not hold Jesus, the earth will yield forth saints in resurrection. From one seed, Jesus, will all the shoots of His planting spring forth to eternal life on the final day. Yes, we follow Jesus into His death, but we also follow Him even now and forever in His resurrection. “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.”

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guards your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen.

Rev. Christopher R. Gillespie
St. John Ev. Lutheran Church & School – Sherman Center
Random Lake, Wisconsin

Gerhard Jentsch
August 29, 1937
+ May 8, 2024

Our Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel. Let us remember with thanksgiving what God has done through His servant Gerhard Jentsch.

Gerhard was given life by his creator and was born on August 29, 1937, the son of parents Gerhard and Arline Jentsch. He received the gift of Holy Baptism and became a child of God on September 12, 1937. On March 29, 1953, he publicly confessed his faith and was confirmed. He regularly received the gracious gift of the Lord’s life-giving body and blood in the Holy Supper. On May 28, 1960, he received the gift of a beloved companion in his wife, Harriet Degnitz. He was blessed with the gift of children—Rhonda, Richard, and Randall, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

God blessed Gerhard’s life with many special people as he served God in his vocations at home, church, work, and in the community. Finally, on May 8, 2024, God blessed Gerhard with a holy death and took him home to rest in the arms of Jesus to await the resurrection of the dead.

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord. We give thanks to God our Father through Jesus Christ, our Lord, for our brother, Gerhard.