An organist played soothing music before the start of Karl Lester Siebenborn’s memorial service at the First Congregational United Church of Christ. At the front of the church, a white and black ceramic urn held Karl’s cremated remains. A toy truck in front of the urn stood in silent testament to Karl’s skill as a mechanic and his passion for his toy car collection.
The family entered and sat in the front rows. Rev. Karen Ballon started by saying, “Hear the promises of God. God is near to all who call, who call from their hearts. The desires of those who fear God are fulfilled; their cries are heard, they are saved.”
“I am the resurrection and the life, all who believe in me, though they die, yet shall they live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.”
“Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious hand.”
“Friends, we gather here in the protective shelter of God’s healing love. We are free to pour out our grief, release our anger, face our emptiness, and know that God cares. We gather here as God’s people, conscious of others who have died and of the frailty of our own existence on earth. We come to comfort and to support one another in our common loss.”
“We gather to hear God’s word of hope that can drive away our despair and move us to offer God our praise. We gather to commend to God with thanksgiving the life of Karl Lester Siebenborn as we celebrate the good news of Christ’s resurrection. For whether we live of whether we die, we belong to Christ who is Lord both of the dead and of the living.”
Everyone was invited to pray: “Holy God, whose ways are not our ways and whose thoughts are not our thoughts, grant that your Holy Spirit may intercede for us with sighs too deep for human words. Heal our wounded hearts made heavy by our sorrow. Through the veil of our tears and the silence of our emptiness, assure us again that ear has not heard, nor eye seen, nor human imagination envisioned, what you have prepared for those who love you, through Jesus Christ, the firstborn from the dead. Amen.”
After a reading from John Chapter 14: 1-3, Rev. Karen said that there are three reasons why everyone was there – to support one another, to remember Karl and honor him, and the third reason would be revealed later. She invited everyone to share stories and memories of Karl.
Family and friends painted a picture of a strong, quiet, easy-going man with a dry sense of humor who could also “bust your chops” – said in a good way. He was a skilled mechanic and could fix anything. While born in Brooklyn, NY, he lived in New Mexico for the past 45 years. He was intelligent, patient, calm. He didn’t like Bingo, but he was a demon at the casino slots. His granddaughter said she thanks him every day for teaching her how to change the oil in her car. One co-worker said, “He was a good old dude.”
When the open comments were done, everyone was invited to sing Hymn 595, “One Glad Morning, I’ll Fly Away.” Rev. Karen then said the third reason we gather is to reaffirm our belief in eternal life. She said that eternal life is more than what we know know. Our souls are eternal and return to God’s keeping. God has waited for Karl his whole life and now he rests in his arms. She closed with this Commendation prayer:
Holy God, by your mighty power you gave us life, and in your love you have given us new life in Jesus Christ. We now entrust Karl to your merciful care. Karl Lester Siebenborn, rest in peace.
In a nice touch, since Karl served in the Navy, the organist played “Anchors Aweigh” as the recessional song. Karl’s remains will be interred at the Santa Fe National Cemetery the next day.