Such a lovely room

Such a lovely room

Saturday, June 1, 2024

The Burial of JoAnn Ely

JoAnn Ely
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Psalm 23
Revelation 21:2-7
John 14:1-6

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

I have to say, I laughed aloud when I read in JoAnn’s obituary that “she cared for her dogs as much as her friends.”  Every time I visited JoAnn at the Laurels, Jamie had his two dogs there with him.  And as Ann well knows, Emmet is my favorite dog in the whole world.  And it is so fitting that donations in her name should go to the Stark County Humane society.  In life and in death, JoAnn cares as much for her dogs as for her friends.

And it is a powerful statement that “her home was always open to those who needed a friend regardless of their age or situation.”  There is no greater gift we can give than shelter and food to someone in need.  There are lots of reasons not to do it though.  Concerns about safety or expenses, the fear of getting into the middle of someone else’s family strife.  The loss of privacy by suddenly having someone else in your home.  It is a great gift to offer food and shelter, but it does not come without risks and costs.  Opening up your home is sacrificial giving, when it comes right down to it.  You have to give something up in order to do it.

And speaking of offering lodging, in the gospel text we just heard, Jesus says, In my Father's house there are many dwelling places.  If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.

Jesus has prepared a place for JoAnn, which I sure hope includes her dogs.  And we know the way to that place—though we might not know that we know it.  In that reading we just heard, Jesus says, he is going to prepare a place for his disciples, and tells them “You know the way to the place where I am going."  And the disciples look at each other—probably with a very worried look—because they do not know what Jesus is talking about.  They don’t even know where he is going; how can they possibly know the way?

But Thomas speaks up.  The one we mistakenly call Doubting Thomas, in fact.  He says, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”  It’s a good question.  And one that we all might ask today.  Jesus has prepared a place for JoAnn, and Jesus tells us that we will see her again, because we know the way.  But we don’t even really know where JoAnn is going.  How can we know “the way?”

But Jesus answers our troubled hearts today the same way he answered Thomas that day: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”  Jesus is the Way.  The Way to where JoAnn is going.  The Way to where you and I are going.  Though we grieve, and though we mourn, and though we dearly miss our beloved JoAnn, do not let your hearts be troubled.  Because we know the Way, and JoAnn Ely knows the way, and is with him now.


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