Monday, July 14, 2008

Sermon for Jane Blodgett's Memorial Service

Sermon for Jane Blodgett’s Memorial Service
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Cathedral of All Souls, Asheville, NC
The Rev. Jeanne Finan

John 11:21-27
Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother, Lazarus, would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" She said to him, "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world."

Heaven’s light forever shines

I am resurrection and I am life.
We hear it as the opening anthem for our burial service.
We hear these words again
in the reading from John’s gospel this morning.

Jesus says to Martha--
to Martha whose heart is broken--
I am the resurrection and the life.
Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live,
And everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.
Do you believe this?

And Martha replies,
Yes, Lord, I believe…

I have absolutely no doubt that if Jesus put that same question
to Elizabeth Jane Holt Blodgett,
Jane would answer without missing a beat,
Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah,
the Son of God,
the one coming into the world.

This morning we gather to remember,
to give thanks
and to celebrate Jane’s life.
Jane led a full and very active life.
The very fullness of her life
is part of the reason her sudden stroke and her subsequent death
came as such a shock to so many of us,
most especially to her family.

Gathering today to celebrate Jane’s life,
Is not a denial of the pain we feel because of Jane’s death.
Heartbreak is real.
And grieving is hard work that cannot be done overnight.

Yet on this day, in the midst of our feelings of grief and loss,
we come together to celebrate,
to offer thanks to God,
for Jane’s life among us.

Jane was full of life--
and full of faith.
She saw the world, to use a poet’s phrase,
as “charged with the grandeur of God.”

I remember not long ago working with Jane in our memorial garden
and I saw this scrawny looking little twig thing,
and as I was ready to pull it from the ground, I asked,
Jane, is this a weed?
And Jane said,
No! That’s a redbud tree.
Dig that up and take it home and plant it in your yard.

Jane could come into the church with a bucket stuffed full of daffodils,
cut from her own yard,
and it was just a matter of time
before those flowers were arranged so beautifully
that they absolutely
sang God’s praises.

Since I first met Jane—and Lewis—
they have always been synonymous for me with the outdoors--
flowers, birds, gardens, trails, hiking---

I don’t know that I have ever met two people
so at home in God’s creation.

Jane was not only a hiker,
but I saw a photograph yesterday
that showed Jane walking on stilts—
and she had this gigantic smile on her face!

If you knew Jane,
you know she would scamper up a ladder in a heartbeat--
change light bulbs, clean out gutters, hang Christmas greenery--
Jane had this absolutely fearless streak in her.

She was a strong woman with strong opinions.
And if she wanted something done,
she did not waste time waiting around for someone else to do it.

Jane believed in putting her faith to work
and she did that in so many ways—
both at church and in the community.
Here at All Souls and at St. John’s.
Jane had deep family roots here at the Cathedral.
Jane’s mother used to tell people
that she was the exact same age as All Souls.
Jane was baptized here, married here
and she and Lewis raised their 4 children here.
For the past 8 years we have been very blessed to have
Jane and Lewis worship with us at St. John’s.
Jane was active in our ECW, Bible studies, Sunday School,
and of course, worship.

In the community, over her lifetime, you could have found Jane
with the Boy scouts, the girl scouts, the Appalachian Trail,
the Mountain to Sea trail, the YMCA, Manna Food Bank, their neighborhood association,
….you get the idea.
Jane had a full life.

Jane was grateful for that full life.
She was especially grateful for her family—for her husband Lewis—
and for their children—
Lew, Lannie, Pete, Daphne—and Daphne’s husband Bruce—
I heard stories about each of you,
long before I met you.
And those two grandsons! Oh my!
Brandon and Bruce Alan.—
Jane did not keep it a secret
that both her grandsons were absolutely brilliant!

I heard stories about you from your mother, your grandmother—
and now you have in turn recently blessed me with stories about her:
the amazing cakes she would bake for your birthdays
(not to mention Jane baking Daphne’s wedding cake—
completely with a practice cake first—
and sewing her wedding dress and her own dress),
her relentless efforts
to make certain you were all excellent swimmers,
sending grandson Bruce Alan home with
10 loaves of banana bread
because she knew it was his favorite!

Jane had a full life—
because it was a shared life.

There is this beautifully carved wooden board
that hangs over the mantle at the Blodgett’s home—
Jane’s son-in-law Bruce described it so perfectly
when he said it is the “mantle over the mantle.”

These are the words inscribed upon that board:
Heaven’s light forever shines
Earth’s shadows fly.

That carving was a friend’s wedding gift to Jane and Lewis
when they were married 52 years ago.

Heaven’s light forever shines..
Jane is now fuly part of heaven’s light.
And it is that light--the love of God---
which illuminated this world from the beginning
and will illuminate this world until the very end.

Those we love are always with us.
That is the gift of resurrection.
Nothing can separate us from that Light, that Love,
Not even death.

Heaven’s light forever shines—
Earth’s shadows fly.

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