Bernie Augenstein (May 2, 1946 - July 2, 2016)

Bernie Augenstein (May 2, 1946 – July 2, 2016)

This past Saturday, my mother and I along with extended family and many friends laid to rest my father, Bernie Augenstein, who died on July 2 peacefully in his sleep. We are extraordinarily grateful for the overwhelming outpouring of support and prayers from so many people in recent days. Click here to listen to or read the homily that Pastor Mark Havel preached at the funeral at Cross of Grace Lutheran Church. And below is the text of the remarks I made at the beginning of the funeral liturgy, which was a wonderful ecumenical service of prayer, Scripture, and music. Pray for us in these days, and rejoice also with us as we celebrate a life well-lived.


Funeral Reflection for Bernie Augenstein

We are an Easter people, and alleluia is our song!

As some of you may know, my dad was color blind. He could see colors – they just weren’t the same colors most of the rest of us saw. This could be particularly challenging at stop lights – because he had a hard time distinguishing between red and green. But even in his colorblindness, he knew what bright colors signified – joy and hope and celebration. Long after the office dress code went to business casual, he still would bring out ties for special occasions. Easter being one of those times. He had one particularly bright and colorful tie that he would wear only once a year. He called it his Easter tie. I’m not sure that he could see all the brightness of the flowers on that tie, but he knew that it conveyed the joy of life and resurrection. And that’s also what we’re about here, today – the joy of life and resurrection. Which is why my dad is wearing that Easter tie today. And why he asked people to come to his funeral wearing brightly colored clothes. And why the music of this service is joyful. And why the hearse that will carry his casket to the cemetery is white. And why the beautiful Woodbridge Pecan Batesville casket is clothed in the white garment of baptism. And why, in the midst of our shock and sorrow, we must rejoice. Because …

We are an Easter people, and alleluia is our song!

In the detailed funeral plans my dad left for us, he said that a funeral should be a reflection of the person’s life. He further defined that for him, this meant lots of music and the active participation of everyone involved. He said that there’s no rule that says you can’t have 8 to 10 hymns at a funeral. He also specified that all verses of every hymn should be sung. And so we have it. It is also fitting that so many clergy are present with us – bringing together his own Lutheran tradition and my mom and my’s Roman Catholic tradition. Ecumenical dialogue, encounter, and prayer were so important to my dad – and all of us as an ecumenical family. And of course the many people with whom my dad was connected – through church, work, Facebook, family, and many other ways.

But the main way that a funeral is a reflection of a person’s life – of a Christian’s life – of my dad’s life – is that it is not really about him at all. It is about Jesus Christ, who calls us to follow him, who claims us as his own in the waters of baptism, who speaks a word of peace and justice to the world, who suffered death on the cross and rose from the dead so that death might be conquered. The life we celebrate today is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ – the mirror and reflection through which our lives, our deaths, and our promise of resurrection have meaning. And that is a cause for joy, because …

We are an Easter people, and alleluia is our song!