Here is the message I gave for my grandmother, Nan Elizabeth Rodgers Bolt. The text was John 14:1-3 At this time, in this place I am comforted by the words that wherever I am God will be there too and I hope those words are comforting to you as well.
In this time where we gather together to celebrate the life of Nan Elizabeth Rodgers Bolt, or Nana as I knew her. We are reminded that God has prepared a place for us, God opens God’s hands to us and bids us welcome because there is room to spare.
How often do we worry if there is going to be room for us? How often do we fear that we won’t be accepted? How often do we worry that we won’t be prepared?
We all know that Nan didn’t like surprises. She liked to be prepared, prepared with the right shoes, or the right make up, making sure her lipstick was perfect before she left the car, because we all know that you can only put on lipstick in the car. Nan was that way as long as I knew her that was confirmed through all the stories I have heard about her, she was like that even to her last moments.
On Friday morning, the day she died Nan woke, got ready for the day, and asked the caregivers if they would fix her hair. After her hair was done, she laid down and when they came to check on her, she was gone. It was like she knew that it was her time, she knew that she would be seeing her loved ones that had gone before her. She was preparing to be dealt in to the next hand around the bridge table with Ruby, Juanita, and Charles. The room for her had been prepared, it was ready, she was ready, God was ready.
That’s the promise of the scripture, that there is room for us here on earth and in heaven. Room for us to be with God, room for us to be with family, room for us to be with each other; there are so many places where we are told that there is not room, both real or perceived, but the promise from the Gospel is that THERE. IS. ROOM.
The more we can know, really know, that there is a place for us. A place in God’s house, a place in this world, the more we can open the doors and participate in the work of God preparing room for other.
The theologian William Barclay writes about a group of soldiers during World War II who had lost a friend in battle and wanted to give their fallen comrade a decent burial. So they found a church with a graveyard behind it, surrounded by a white fence. They found the parish priest and asked if their friend could be buried there in the church graveyard.
“Was he Catholic?” the priest inquired.
“No he was not,” answered the soldiers.
“I’m sorry, then,” said the priest. “Our graveyard is reserved for members of the holy church. But you can bury your friend outside the fence. I will see that the gravesite is cared for.”
“Thank you Father,” said the soldiers, and they proceeded to bury their friend just outside the graveyard on the other side of the fence.
When the war had finally ended, before the soldiers returned home, they decided to visit the gravesite of their friend. They remembered the location of the church – and the grave, just outside the fence. They searched for it, but couldn’t find it.Finally, they went to the priest to inquire as to its location.
“Sir, we cannot find our friend’s grave,” said the soldiers to the priest.
“Well,” answered the priest. “After you buried your fallen friend, it just didn’t seem right to me that he should be buried there, outside the fence.”
“So you moved his grave?” asked the soldiers.
“No,” said the priest. “I moved the fence.”
Today we remember, we celebrate, we proclaim that THERE. IS. ROOM. And that Nan is making herself at home with God, a home that she has always lived in, a home that is promised to each of us.
Jesus says, "Don't be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me…where I am you will be too.“
May it be so.