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Funeral for Lyle Niemann at Grafton ND Armory


He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty……..

shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flies by day;

Nor for the pestilence that walks in darkness; nor for the destruction that wastes at noonday.

Those words from Psalm 91 have always struck me as instructive.  The Bible in numerous places compares our life to the flowers of the field  that rise up in the morning and fade away and whither by the evening.  Sometimes the flower is cut down in the afternoon.  We talk about the morning and midday and evening of our life.  Our fears are different when we are older and so are our priorities.  It is not only children that have night terrors.  Older people have them too.

Those in the noontime of life are in a different situation.  Hopefully that have put childish ways behind them and are living in the rhythm of confession and absolution.  They have done, and continue to do productive work and their children, if they have any are on the verge of doing the same.  They are in that time when they can start looking forward to the fun times of weddings and grand children.  (By the way that should be the order).

“The destruction that wastes at noonday” seems to be particularly devastating not only because of what was in the past, but what could be in the future.

It is then that we are to remember that our time is in the hands of Christ and our lives are hidden in Christ in God.  Lyle Niemann was 48 when he died on April 13, 2016.  The prayer service was held at Zion English in Grafton and so many people came that the line went around the block and across the street and into the church.  So many were expected at the funeral that it was held in the Armory.  The number of people that turned out and expressed their sympathies, who helped with the food and all that goes with a funeral was incredible.  It was because of two things – 1.  The amount of love and appreciation that exists for Lyle and his family, and, 2. the amount of fear and unease that comes when the destruction wastes at noonday.

The closing prayer at Lyle’s funeral –

Almighty God who has called our departed brother out of the noon time of his life and
labors, we humble ourselves under Your holy will and reverence Your ways,
although Your judgments are unsearchable and Your ways past finding out. You think
thoughts towards us of peace and not of evil, and we believe that all things
really do work out for good to those who love You. We thank You for the fatherly
love you bestowed upon this our brother Lyle; for your merciful guidance, faithful
protection, and constant blessing in body and soul even unto the end. We ask
You to comfort with Your holy Word the hearts of those who are bowed down by his death
and to strengthen them with the assurance that even through crosses and trials
You chasten  Your children, not to destroy them, but so
that they may live. Enable all of us to lay to heart the understanding that our time
on this earth is only for a little while, so that we may diligently ponder in this
our day, things that belong to our peace. Sanctify us in Your truth, and purify our
hearts by faith, that we may not love the fleeting pleasures of this world, but order our lives agreeable to Your will and seek those things which are above,
and finally appear before your presence in peace and joy. Grant all this we pray,
for the sake of Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen

The Psalm doesn’t say that destruction won’t come at noonday.  It says those in the secret place of the most high don’t have to fear.  Want to know the secret?  The secret (mysterious) place is Jesus.  He is the mystery that was kept for long ages.  The world and our old nature want to keep Him secret still, but the Holy Spirit tells us of this mystery.  Lyle learned the mystery when he was baptized and for Lyle, Jesus was the one in whom we can always seek shelter.