Text: Psalm 37:4
Concordia University – St. Paul, MN
55th Anniversary as a Commissioned Teacher and
16th Anniversary of Ordained Ministry of
Rev. Dr. David William Krause, Ph.D.
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps. 37:4).
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, fellow alumni of “CSP,” fellow servants in the various forms of the ministry of the church, respected professors and doctors, fellow musicians, brother Pastor Martin, children (Vivian, Stephen, Rachel), grandchildren and the “great” ones, too, and especially you, David and Kathleen “Katy:” Peace be to you, and grace, from Him who freed us from our sins.
I consider it a great honor to be asked to preach God’s Word on this wonderful occasion celebrating the 55th anniversary as a Commissioned Teacher and 16th anniversary of Ordained ministry of our honored teacher, colleague, friend, Dad, grand and great father, Doctor David William Krause. And that Word that caught my eye is the verse from Psalm 37, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” It caught my eye because that verse has served as the most encouraging and even liberating passage especially when asking, “What is God’s will for my life?” and for those in the ministry confronted at various times with making a decision between two or more Calls to serve congregations or the church at large. It is the key to the unfolding of God’s plan which we view most clearly, most of the time, only as we look back through the years, but once in a while God’s hand is at work right in front of your eyes. For many get hung up with the idea that, while God has a plan for your life, at every fork in the road you had better make the right choice or you’re going to, somehow, mess up that plan! Nothing could be further from the truth if you know God and believe His good and gracious will toward you. If you know God and believe His good and gracious will toward you, you are freed and emboldened at any juncture or opportunity or challenge to simply “Go for It!” Today we bless God and give thanks that, in Christ, and with our beloved brother in Christ, because of Christ we can encourage one another, saying, “Go for It!”
“Delight yourself in the Lord,” says the psalmist. It sounds so good and pleasant and right, “Delight yourself in the Lord,” until you realize and remember that sinners, separated and hostile toward God, according to the spiritual darkness and deadness of the fallen nature, do not want to delight in the Lord, indeed, they cannot. The unregenerate sinner delights only, ultimately in him or her self, and those things that at least appear to be useful in establishing your own little kingdom. The primal sin was motivated by the “delight to the eyes” of the forbidden tree and its fruit (Gen. 3:6). And so, even still within ourselves as sinners, there is plenty in us that does not want to get distracted or to delight in the Lord.
Indeed, one cannot delight in the Lord at all until, that is, you hear of the Lord’s delight in you. For this is the God who is hidden to the fearful sinner’s eyes, namely, that God is love, that God so loved the world that He sent His only Son, that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still weak,” “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:6-8). This is the Lord that draws the sinner’s delight; the Lord who is God-incarnate, God come-in-the-flesh, our flesh, the Lord who came, ultimately, to take everything in us that kills us into Himself, nailing it with and in Himself to the cross (Col. 2:14). By that sacrifice, and by His triumphant resurrection from the dead, now all who are in Him are freed from sin and death and will live forever, the way God originally intended things to be. Not only so, but all who are in Him will also reign with Him (2 Tim. 2:12) and so our eternal lot will be even better than our beginnings.
So now, the faith that is given and worked in us by the Holy Spirit when we hear that Word, the blessed Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by our Holy Baptism, this faith looks up, beholds, fixes on and delights in the Lord who is our Savior. Now in that delight, in that faith, hope and love, the Lord gives us the desires of our hearts.
I’m from the class of 1971. It was my Junior year when you, Dave, came to be the new director of our then 70-member Chorale. Along with my future brother-in-law Henry Gerike, a Senior, we had been designated co-student conductors of the choir. Fast forward about 20 years and suddenly you were the choir member and Henry was the director of the Concordia Seminary choir. It was only then, in a short discussion I had with you, that I found out that, for all of your work and accomplishments in the field and craft of Church Music, you had always wanted to be a pastor, and, hence, your attendance at the seminary. I suppose, in one sense, this passage, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart,” could be interpreted as, because of your life-long delight, that is faith in the Lord, God finally, in His good time, finally fulfilled this life-long desire of yours, to serve as a pastor. And I suppose that’s almost right; except you and I know that this goal was not the result of your merely desiring it or purely your own design. For this passage does not mean to bless or fulfill, willy-nilly, whatever desire your heart might come up with. We know the desires of which we are ashamed, which are not according to God’s will. Rather, it means that, when we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the right desires, God-pleasing desires. And that means, when you are a child of God, whether you are considering which direction to go in selecting your major or minor in college, or whether to accept that new Call that has come along, or to return it and stay where you’re at, or making any other decision among various options, this Gospel says, “Go For It!” As a child of God you are free to choose one way or the other because, either way, God is in the business of blessing!
God is in the business of blessing. Delight yourself in this gracious God and He will bless. Delight yourself in the Lord by letting “the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:16-17).
That blessing was begun in you David as with us all, in your Holy Baptism. Through those initial years, the story of the Gospel was repeated in the liturgical life of the Church: that we have a God who acts in our world, who sent His Son to take on our flesh of the Virgin Mary, who preached and taught and healed and who, ultimately, suffered death for us, in our place. Nevertheless He rose again on that first Easter day, ascended into heaven, sends His Holy Spirit and continues to come to us with forgiveness, grace and blessing in His strong Word and absolution and the Lord’s Supper. These things were further explained and reinforced in Sunday school and in confirmation instruction; believing that this Lord of your delight is your shepherd in whom we suffer no want. Blessing you through dear Harold Otte and your father Otto and mother Gertrude, then your undergrad years at Concordia, Seward, in your teaching in parish schools and our colleges, St. John’s, Winfield, and here in St. Paul; through your successful pursuit of academic degrees at the Universities of Southern California and Iowa you not only led many people in song but also preached already through God’s gift of music, “Frau Musica” as Luther called her, the wife of the Word of God that carries that Word powerfully into peoples’ hearts. Then, at last, God blessed your desire also to be certified and called as a pastor in Wisconsin and in Arkansas.
And now we—your family, former students, colleagues, fellow “delighters” in the Lord—gather here today to bless God for His blessings to you and to us through you, all because you heard God’s call since your baptism, “Go For It!” And you did! And you still do! May God continue to guide and bless and keep you, singing with joyful abandon the praises of the Lord.