Such a lovely room

Such a lovely room

Saturday, February 8, 2020

The Burial of Carol J. Smith

The Burial of Carol J. Smith
Wisdom 3:1-5,9
Revelation 21:2-7 
John 6:37-40

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

We human beings want explanations for things.  Something happens, whether good or bad, and we want to know why—especially something tragic or devastating.  When we can’t explain why something happens, we grasp for reasons, but we also look for how we might have been responsible.  “Did I miss something?  Should I have done something?”  And we are tempted to do this with our beloved Carol’s sudden passing.  I’ve heard others do it this week, and I’ve done it myself.  “Were there clues that I should have noticed that something was wrong?”

The honest truth is, we don’t know.  And we can’t know.  But it doesn’t make us stop looking.  We have questions, and we want answers.  And in response there is only silence, and doubt.  So, it occurs to me that maybe we’re asking the wrong questions.  Or, maybe we need better questions—questions that have answers, no matter how seemingly mundane those questions might be, at first glance.

Here’s one:  Have you ever known anyone who loved animals more than Carol Smith did?  If you’re like most of us, the answer is no.  There is no one I have ever met who loved animals more than Carol Smith did.  And here’s the thing.  Carol didn’t just the “lovable” animals.  Not just the cute little puppies and the majestic quarter horses.  No, Carol loved them all.  Those two orphaned goats, the crazy wandering hobo peacock, the bizarre-looking pot-bellied goat.

I have to say, if I had a farm, there would be lots more of the cute and majestic creatures, and few—if any—of the strange and unruly beasts.  But that’s my farm; that’s not Carol’s farm.  Maple Hill Farm welcomed them all—and especially, it seems, the unwelcome ones.  The animals that others might view as ugly, or troublesome, or too much trouble are the very ones Carol seemed to seek out.  Like she couldn’t help it!

As we just heard, Jesus said, “Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away.”  And maybe you can see how Carol was modeling that exact thing on her little farm.  No one is beyond redemption.  No one is lost to Jesus.  No one is unwelcome, or cast off, or tossed aside.

If I’m honest, I know there are lots of people that I would prefer to exclude from God’s kingdom.  All sorts of people who I find to be so unwelcoming that I can’t find the energy to welcome them.  In short, my version of God’s kingdom would be filled with the cute puppies and the majestic horses—the ones I like—and there would be very few of the troublesome or the strange.  If I were in charge of such things, I know that in my heart of hearts, I would keep some people out.

But Jesus also said, “This is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”  That I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, that I should lose no one whom God has created, that every single person will return to God, because God loves everyone.  Especially the orphans, and the wandering peacocks, and the pot-bellied goats.

Whether she knew it or not, Carol spent her life modeling how God thinks about us.  Maple Hill Farm was a glimpse of heaven, and Carol Smith was its St. Peter, recklessly throwing open the gates to all who needed a home.  With none excluded.  That’s how the Kingdom of God is.  Everyone is welcome, no exceptions.

And with that in mind, I offer this thought . . .
As we are gathered together this morning, to mourn the sudden loss of our Carol—our dear sister and friend—may God give us the grace to remember that Carol is exactly where she has always been:  wrapped in the loving arms of Jesus.  The One who promises to lose nothing he has been given, the One who always welcomes each and every one of us home, the One who will raise us all on the last day.  May the joy that Carol brought to this world inspire us to be the joy in this world as we leave this place.


No comments:

Post a Comment