The Rev. Bart Day, executive director of the LCMS Office of National Mission, recalls the life and death of Dr. Maggie Karner in the following statement.
“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
In His perfect timing, the Lord saw fit Friday, Sept. 25, to draw Dr. Margaret Ann Karner, former director of LCMS Life Ministries, to Himself.
Maggie served for 12 years, first under LCMS World Relief and Human Care and then in the Office of National Mission, as a leading voice for life. Whether promoting abstinence in a classroom or leading a mercy medical team to a small village in Africa, Maggie confessed with certainty that each life — from conception to natural death — is a gift from our gracious God.
In 2014, she was diagnosed with a stage-four glioblastoma multiforme brain tumor. But in between doctor visits and chemo treatments, the Lord used her voice yet again, through writing and interviews, to combat a culture and even a media fixated on promoting death. “I want my girls to learn servanthood and selflessness as they care for me,” she wrote in an article for The Federalist. “And I also want them to know that, for Christians, our death is not the end.”
And they do. Maggie’s girls — Mary, Heidi and Annie — along with her husband of 30 years, the Rev. Kevin Karner, did just that: caring for their mother and wife with grace and confidence until Jesus called her to Him.
Those of us who met or worked alongside Maggie, who watched her videos or heard her speak can commend her for all these things and countless more, but today we simply commend her body and soul to the One who gave Maggie life: Jesus Christ.
He put death to death on her behalf. He took her suffering to the cross so that she would be comforted in Him in her own trials. He made good on His promise – even in her final days — never to leave her, never to forsake her.
Christ has died and is risen. And because He is, Maggie will rise again too. So we grieve but we do so with resolute hope. With all the Church on earth, we rejoice in the certainty of the Resurrection, confident that our Lord will rejoin us to our dear sister, this time for eternity.
Today Maggie sees her Savior face-to-face. She is gathered with all the saints around His throne. Her beautiful voice is lifted with those of the angels and the faithful: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty!” And because Jesus lives, Maggie has life too. She knew it. She believed it. She confessed it. “Because our Savior, Jesus Christ, selflessly endured an ugly death on the cross and was laid in borrow tomb (no ‘death with dignity’ there), He truly understands our sorrows and feelings of helplessness,” she wrote. “I want my kids to know that Christ’s resurrection from that borrowed grave confirms that death could not hold Him, and it cannot hold me either—a baptized child of God!” May it be so for us, even as the Lord has done for Maggie.
(See the Reporter Online obituary, “Dr. Maggie Karner — voice for life, mercy, religious freedom — dies.”)
Posted Sept. 27, 2015