We gather together this afternoon to mourn that loss and celebrate the life of Robert Haase.
Today we look beyond that which is seen, and try to catch a glimpse of what is unseen. The Apostle Paul wrote,
For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down—when we die and leave these bodies—we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. 2 We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long for the day when we will put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. 3 For we will not be spirits without bodies, but we will put on new heavenly bodies. 4 Our dying bodies make us groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and have no bodies at all. We want to slip into our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by everlasting life. 5 God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit. (2 Cor. 5:1-5 NLT)
At the end of his life, this same Apostle Paul wrote these familiar words,
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7,8)
The promise of the Bible is sure: for everyone who trusts in Christ as Savior and Lord, this life is not all there is. For the believer, this life is only the prologue to real life; life eternal. In this time of sadness we are asked to trust the promises of God. Will you pray with me?
Father, we bow before you this afternoon. Once again we are confronted with the temporary nature of our earthly lives. We ask for your help as we try to see beyond this life to that which awaits us. Help us as we remember your servant, Bob Hasse. Grant us comfort in our loss and gratitude for the blessing of having known him. Be near to us, O Lord, that we might know your strength. Amen.
Robert Henry Haase was born on January 30th 1924 in Fort Madison Iowa to Conrad S and Leah B. Davis Haase. He graduated from Nauvoo High School just a couple blocks down the road from here.
Mr. Haase married Rosalie L. Hamma on February 3, 1946 at the Appanoose Faith Presbyterian Church
Mr. Haase was a veteran of WWII European Theater and saw extensive duty with the 20th infantry. He served as a medic. He was wounded twice and was awarded a purple heart. Once during the Battle of the Bulge he was burned trying to destroy medical equipment so the enemy could not use it. He and the rest of the men should have died but a sudden heavy snow storm saved Robert from more severe burns and allowed the men to get away. This sense of God’s rescue may have been why Bob enjoyed life so much. He realized that it was a gift. Bob was proud of his service to his country. And his country is proud of him.
Mr. Haase farmed, raised livestock, had pigs, and at one time raised turkeys. But he was also active in a number of community organizations. He served on various boards at different times,
- He served on the township board
- The school board
- He was an elder at the church
- He served on the Soil and Water Conservation Board and received an award from this group for his outstanding work in the area of conservation during 1999.
- He served on the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Board
- He was a member of the Carthage VFW Post #5117 where he was a past commander.
- And served as Commander of the American Legion Post #711 in Nauvoo.
- He was a member of the Appanoose Faith Presbyterian Church in Niota, IL.
Mr. Haase is survived by two sons,
- Kenneth L. Haase of La Harpe, IL
- Dr. Randall R. Haase and his wife Kay of Clarksville, TN.
- 2 Grandchildren: Erin and Stuart Haase
- 1 sister, Connie L. Franke of Quincy
He was preceded in death by: his wife (June 19, 2000); His parents and 1 brother, Richard D. Haase.
I met Robert Haase but I did not know him. From all I’ve heard, it sure seems like I would have enjoyed him and appreciated his approach to life.
Bob Haase was a man who saw farming not as his job, but as his vocation. He considered his work to be a sacred trust that had been passed down from previous generations. He worked hard to make sure that future generations would still have good land to farm. He put in numerous dry dams over the year to protect the top soil. He believed that if you took care of the land, the land would take care of you.
Bob loved taking care of his livestock. He loved the breeding and genetics part of the work. He wasn’t particularly fond of hogs but raised them anyway. The hogs frustrated him and the more frustrated he got the more unruly the hogs would become.
Bob was diligent about maintaining his equipment. He believed the best way to make a living at farming was to keep everything in good working order. He was always reading about new techniques and was always willing to try a better way. Bob didn’t need a lot of new equipment because he had a good sense for used machinery. He knew what equipment was worth, and when he bought used equipment he always bought good equipment at a good price.
Bob was a man who enjoyed people. He was always willing to give of himself or to help someone else. If someone had a need, Bob would leave his work to help a neighbor. He was eager to help Ronnie’s boys get started in farming. To Bob, it was kind of like passing the torch to another generation.
He loved to drink coffee at Casey’s and to visit with the guys at the Niota Elevator. He was well read and always had an opinion on whatever issue was being discussed. He was an ardent Republican. Randy reports that it took him a long time before he realized that Damn and Democrat didn’t always go together. Bob loved to talk with his hands. In fact, at least once that got him into trouble. He was at an auction, which was one of his favorite pastimes, and he was telling a story. And suddenly the auctioneer said, “Sold to Bob Haase!” He had bought himself and old F-20 Tractor. If that wasn’t bad enough, he had to go home and explain the expenditure to his wife!
Bob and Rosalie were a team. They worked side by side on the farm. It wasn’t Bob’s livelihood, it was their livelihood. They had one of those relationships where they loved each other deeply, but bickered constantly. Because of the duties of the farm they hardly ever got away for a vacation and Christmas was really the only holiday that they actually made time to celebrate. Rosalie was often in her coveralls just like Bob. They were a team and enjoyed their life together.
They taught their boys the value of respect and hard work. There was work to do and everyone was expected to help with that work. Failure was not an option for the boys. They were expected to do well in school and then go on to college. And mom and dad were very proud of their sons.
Rosalie was the disciplinarian. Bob would often just wink at the boys when they got into a little mischief. And when Bob was in trouble, you might hear Rosalie call, “Mr. Haase!” You could often find Bob during these times heading to the machine shed.
Bob farmed until he was 67 years old and then turned the business over to Ronnie and Sandra Harmon and their family. It was a great relationship. Bob was known to come out and help the guys all the time. They were partners in the work that he loved. The Harmon’s were great neighbors and even better friends. Bob trusted them with the sacred work of being stewards of the land.
Bob kept busy during the retirement years. He enjoyed his grandchildren. He also got involved in all kinds of other things. At one point he remarked that he didn’t know how he ever had time to farm before. He retired, but he didn’t stop living.
When Rosalie died suddenly, Bob began to die too. Life lost its joy. Bob still tinkered around the farm but it wasn’t fun any more. His physical condition deteriorated rapidly. Even when he was in assisted living facilities he enjoyed the people and enjoyed doing what he could to help them. He helped out in a soup kitchen once while down in Tennessee. He went on patrol with a police officer one night and he still enjoyed taking drives . . . but the fire and the passion for life was gone. His life seemed to be dominated by one physical problem after another. But with all the physical problems, he really died of a broken heart.
I’m sure during these last fifteen months he was as proud of his boys as he ever was. They took care of him. Their love for their dad was evident to everyone. Dad was appreciative, and mom would have been proud.
This last week Bob came out of his unconscious state long enough to have prayer with Randy’s Pastor. And at that time it seemed like he was able to relax. He realized he didn’t have to fight any more. He could let go and he could be with Rosalie once again. He died on Friday November 16th but leaves a heritage of faithfulness that will extend throughout the years.
It seems appropriate that the Bible is filled with many metaphors that relate to farming. And as we face that sense of emptiness that comes at the time of death, I remind you of one of those metaphors. It’s found in 1 Corinthians 15,
35 But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. [1 Corinthians 15:35-44 NLT]
Few people can understand this analogy as well as someone who farms. Paul was answering the question “What happens after we die?” And basically Paul says, It is like a farmer who puts a little seed in the ground. That seed is transformed into something you could have never imagined by simply looking at the seed itself. In the same way, says Paul, our bodies are buried like a seed. And they are resurrected to a life that is more grand than our minds can comprehend.
With that image in mind, I want to leave you with a couple of observations or reminders. First, on this day when our mind is numbed by death we need to remember that this life is not all there is. From the earliest days of the Bible there is talk about life beyond the grave. In the New Testament that hope and promise is sharpened.
Jesus told us that He was going to prepare a place for us. And when it was time, He would come and take us to where He is. The Bible is clear in it’s affirmation of life beyond the grave. We are told that for the one who trusts in Christ for salvation, this new life will be Heaven. It will be an existence free from pain, tears, disappointment, and sorrow. When the Apostle Paul was facing his own death he said, “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Paul understood that those who die go to be with the Lord. They get to see clearly, enjoy fully, and are reunited with those who have gone before.
But the second thing I must say is this, not everyone goes to Heaven. We live in a society that seems to imply that the only thing you need to do to get to Heaven, is die. But that is not what the Bible teaches. We are taught quite clearly that we do not deserve Heaven at all. Heaven is offered to us as a gift. It is a gift that comes through Christ.
In fact, the passage in 1 Corinthians 15 about the seeds is from a passage that is arguing about the fact that life beyond the grave can come only through Jesus Christ. Paul argues that Jesus really rose from the dead and is qualified to lead us to eternity. He was God in human form, who gave His life as a payment for the sin of everyone who would trust Him. The evidence of the empty tomb; the testimony of eyewitnesses; the story of the Roman guard; the grave clothes; and the astounding transformation of the disciples attest powerfully to his actual resurrection.
We get to Heaven not by our efforts but by His. The Bible is clear, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” We must believe that He was uniquely God, that He lived a perfect life, that He surrendered that life as payment for our sin, and that He extends salvation to everyone who will trust Him.
Bob Haase was a faithful man. He was not the kind of guy who talked about faith a great deal . . . but that is true of many of his generation. His values were Biblical values and it sounds to me like His faith was a true faith.
This is our source of comfort today. Bob has left this earth and we will miss him. With his passing, lots of things will change. But think about what Heaven must be life.
Stepping on shore, and finding it Heaven!
Of taking hold of a hand, and finding it God’s hand.
Of breathing a new air, and finding it celestial air.
Of feeling invigorated, and finding it immortality.
Of passing from storm to tempest to an unknown calm.
Of waking up, and finding it Home.
—Hazel Felleman, Poems That Live Forever
- Think about Bob’s joy at seeing Rosalie again.
- Or the relief at receiving a body that was perfect
- Or the joy of being able to meet many of those folks who had worked the land he loved before he did.
- Think of the thrill of seeing Jesus.
- Imagine how wonderful it would be to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant”
- Imagine how moving it would be to understand God’s grace with a new and profound appreciation.
- And imagine how touched Bob would be that you were here today.
We think of death as tragic. But if we have placed our trust in what Christ has done on our behalf, then death is tragic only for those who are left behind. They feel loss, the one who has died, knows only gain.
I am confident that if we could give Robert Haase a choice today of whether he wanted to come back or not, he wouldn’t hesitate. He would choose Heaven and would encourage us to so align our lives that we would see Heaven when we die. We grieve for our loss. Bob Haase has not lost his life . . . .he has found it.
So, for those who are left behind I encourage you to,
- Make your own faith sure. Only those who place their confidence in Jesus Christ will see Bob again. If you settle the matter of eternity, you will be able to enjoy life on this side of the grave. Get serious about your spiritual life. Don’t delay. You and I don’t know how much time we have left. We must live each day prepared for it to be our last. And the only way to do that, is to give your heart and your allegiance to the one who died for you.
- Celebrate Bob’s life. Remember the stories. Share your anecdotes. Give thanks to God for blessing us through him.
- Learn from Bob’s example. Work hard at whatever the Lord has given you to do. Work at it with all your might. And for those of you who farm . . . . take care of the land. For if you do, the land will take care of you.
Please pray with me.
Our Father, we thank you for the life of Robert Haase. He brought us smiles and joy in this life and we pray that you would welcome Him by your grace in the life that is to come. Grant him the inheritance that You have prepared for Him in your mercy and grace.
Lord, I ask you to grant comfort and strength to this family. Grant them wonderful and rich memories. Give them wisdom as they deal with matters related to the farm. Help them during this holiday season to deal with the emptiness that will surely be present.
And I ask that you would give the rest of us a hunger for Heaven. Grant that each one here would make sure of their faith. Help them to give attention to their spiritual lives. Make your grace known to us, O Lord.
Thank you for Jesus. Thank you for his life, His sacrificial death, and His triumphant resurrection. Thank you for the salvation that He makes possible. Draw us close to Him that we might know You, that we might live beyond the grave, and that we might see Bob Haase again. We ask all this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.