Such a lovely room

Such a lovely room

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

The Burial of Noble O. Carpenter

Noble Carpenter
May 29, 2024
Isaiah 61:1-3
Psalm 23
2 Corinthians 4:13-17
John 6:37-40

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

When Noble and Sherri Carpenter were considering joining St. Timothy’s Church, they invited me out to lunch so we could talk about it.  Never one to give up the opportunity for a free lunch—with apologies to Milton Friedman—I readily agreed.  Over lunch that day, Noble said something like, “I only have one condition: that you are the one to do my funeral.”  And, well, here we are.

Over the course of my 14 years as a priest, I have done many funerals.  And it is always an honor to do every single one of them.  But in all those years, I have never before seen a family all pitch in on the planning as I have in preparing for this day.  Sherry and all three sons have been in on the planning, and thinking, and choosing to make this service be what Noble would have wanted it to be.  And to my mind, that engagement—along with the words we heard from John, Noble Jr., and Bob—are the biggest testament to the legacy of Noble Carpenter.  He passed along his emphasis of cooperation, and pitching in, and making a difference.

And speaking of difference . . . when Noble and I had a difference of opinion about something, I never had to spend one minute wondering to myself, “I wonder what Noble thinks?”  Because Noble had no qualms about telling me exactly what Noble thought.  And I have to say, we priests could use a lot more Noble Carpenters in our parishes.  We waste so much time and energy guessing what other people think, which also means our parishioners are burying their gifts by not giving us their insights.  Not offering their voice to make the congregation better.  I’m happy to say, not so with Noble Carpenter.  I always knew what Noble thought, and our parish is the better for it.

But as his priest, what I found most inspiring about Noble was his faith.  Which is a completely different thing from church attendance on Sunday morning.  Many of us find ourselves coming to church out of habit, and our faith blossoms from that habit.  With Noble, I honestly think it worked the other way around.  He was a man of deep faith, and that is why he came to church.  He wanted to be in the place where his internal faith could be expressed and expanded.  But it started with faith.  Because from long before I ever met him, Noble Carpenter knew where he was going when he died.  Because it was the place he had been all along.  Which is safely in the palm of God’s hand.

In the gospel reading we heard a few minutes ago, Jesus says, "Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away . . . And 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.”

Noble Olds Carpenter was given to Jesus in Baptism, and Jesus never let go of him.  Jesus will not lose Noble, and Jesus will never lose you.  And Jesus will raise all of us up on the last day.


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