We Have Only Done What Was Our Duty

Committal Homily for Rev. Dr. Kenneth F. Korby, Concordia Cemetery-Fort Wayne, Indiana, Friday in Easter II, 24 April 2009, by Rev. Prof. John T. Pless


+ Jesu Juva +

"So you, when you have what is commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty" Luke 17:10.

Servants are there to do the will of the master, not vice versa. Servants know their place; they are not there to be served but to serve. No master waits on his own servants. No master says, "Now you sit down and I'll serve you supper." No master, that is, except the Most High Son of God who humbled Himself to come to us as Servant, not to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.

To be served by Christ Jesus is to be taken captive by Him. That's what happened to Peter on Maundy Thursday evening as the Lord on His knees and girdled with a towel bathed Peter's feet. Peter's life was no longer his own. "Make me a captive, Lord, and then I shall be free" says an old hymn. If Christ sets you free, you are free indeed. Peter was set free to be the Lord's man, to live under Him in His kingdom, to be led in ways where he would never go on his own, to suffer all even to the point of death on account of his confession that this Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Kenneth Korby was a free man. He knew his place for Christ Jesus had redeemed him that Kenneth might be "His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness and innocence" even as Jesus is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. Kenneth knew his place; he knew himself a servant of the One who first served him. For Kenneth there was magnificent freedom in slavery to Christ Jesus. It was the freedom to be courageous in confession, to exhort and admonish, to teach and to preach. It was the freedom to learn and then out of that treasury of a life time of pondering the texts of Holy Scriptures, the Lutheran Confessions, the writings of Luther and countless teachers of the church ancient and modern to give of that learning to others. He did not see his pastoral and scholarly accomplishments as achievements to be paraded before people. He did not see his sweat and labor as triumphant trophies to be hauled up to heaven. He knew that all that he was and all that he had was pure gift from the Father of lights. And as these endowments were given to him  but gifts freely given  him they were gifts that he was duty bound to share whether in study and prayers with Jeanne and the children, lay folks in the congregations, students at Valparaiso University and later at the seminaries or literally hundreds of conferences.

But at the end of all the busyness for Kenneth was no cry for recognition, no claim for accolades, just the confession of a heart set free and a mouth opened by the Word of the Lord: "We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty." Kenneth knew it was his duty to thank, praise, serve and obey to the Blessed Trinity who created, redeemed and hallowed him to be His own. Today we lay Kenneth's bodily remains into earth in the sure and certain confidence, the lively hope of the resurrection of the body when our Lord will say to Kenneth and all who by faith are His: "Well done thou good and faithful servant." Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus to life everlasting.