We gather at this graveside today to put to rest the ashes of Beth Ann (Louden) Nelson. We also want to remember and thank God for the life that pulsated through her body.
I remind you of the Word of God.
Psalm 121 says,
I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
In Isaiah 60 we read these comforting words,
the LORD will be your everlasting light,
and your days of sorrow will end.
As we stand here today we try to gain an eternal perspective. We try to look “beyond the curtain”, so to speak, so that we might find comfort and hope even in our loss.
Let’s pray together,
Father, we feel somewhat cold and detached today. In so many ways it doesn’t seem possible that Beth is really gone.
There is a part of us that wants to scream, “Why?” And another part of us that wants to say, “Thank you” for the blessing of Beth’s life and Thank you that the suffering did not linger. Most of all we ask that You give us comfort and hope. Help us as we remember and as we see to believe. We ask in Jesus’ name.
Beth Ann (Louden) Nelson, was born November 10, 1954 in LaHarpe IL, the daughter of Franklin and Jean (Link) Louden.
Beth was diagnosed with ALS around a year ago. She knew there were serious problems and was pretty sure she had ALS when she started the testing process. Beth was 52 years old when she passed away Saturday, September 22, 2007 at her home surrounded by family and friends.
She is survived by her mother; Jean Louden; Her three daughters, Emily Tate, Katie Nelson and Erin Neff; four grandchildren, Brandon Thompson, Franny Tate, Anna Walker, and Cooper Neff; One sister, Janice Louden; Three brothers, Jim Louden, Richard Louden, and Harry Louden in addition to three nieces, one nephew and her two beloved cats.
She was preceded in death by her father, and her dear friend, Timothy A. Kurtz.
Beth….was a person who was passionate about life. Her smile was often broad and her eyes were always opened wide so she could take everything in. She was passionate about learning and loved to read. She was passionate about nature and cared deeply for the environment. She told me she loved to watch the lightening during the rain and feel the power of the thunder.
Beth was passionate about her children and devoted to them. She did what she needed to do to provide for them. I remember seeing Beth at school events over the years. She would cheer with great enthusiasm for the girls whether it was a ballgame, play, or awards ceremony. She was proud of her girl’s individuality. She was intense. She was proud of the fact that each of the girls is unique.
Beth loved the holidays and loved being in the kitchen. Family times were special times for Beth. At Christmas people looked forward to her Divinity candy and her carmels. The holidays will feel a little empty without Beth.
Beth always rooted for the underdog. She saw the good in folks, sometimes she was so focused on the good she had trouble seeing the bad. As a result she sometimes tried to rescue people who ended up hurting her.
Beth was passionate about her politics and would eagerly and forcefully debate with anyone who wanted to take her on. I always just avoided the subject.
She enjoyed watching movies. Her favorite was the original “the Ghost and Mrs. Muir”. Beth was a Night Owl. People always knew that they could call her in the middle of the night and that they really shouldn’t call in the morning.
Beth was her own person. She didn’t care what other people thought about her. She wasn’t concerned about contemporary fashion trends or public opinion. She thought for herself.
I always enjoyed being around Beth. She was always a gracious and kind person. One of my most cherished memories was the last time she worshipped with us. It was a Saturday night service. I watched her as she smiled broadly and moved expressively with the music. She was deeply engaged in the message and her face was radiant. Her faith was evident.
Beth wasn’t afraid to die . . . even though she didn’t want to die. She didn’t want to miss the joy of her Grandchildren but she believed that there was life beyond the grave through Jesus Christ and that gave her strength in these tough times.
Beth’s character shined most brightly during this last year as she handled her illness. She hated becoming dependent. She knew what was ahead and faced it squarely. Through it all she maintained her positive attitude. She continued to be more interested in talking about your life than hers. Beth taught us all how to die with dignity even in the midst of such a devastating disease.
As we stand here today with Beth’s remains I remind you of the words of the Apostle Paul. He had thought and undoubtedly prayed a great deal about life beyond the grave. In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul says if Christ was not really raised from the dead, Christianity is meaningless. However, since He has been raised from the dead, we embrace His teaching about life beyond the grave. I’ve critically looked at the evidence for the resurrection many times and I am convinced that there is life beyond the grave. This is not all there is.
Paul continued to answer questions about life beyond the grave and responded to the question: “With what kind of body will we be raised.” I like the way THE MESSAGE, a paraphrase of the Bible captures Paul’s words,
in gardening you plant a “dead” seed; soon there is a flourishing plant. There is no visual likeness between seed and plant. You could never guess what a tomato would look like by looking at a tomato seed. What we plant in the soil and what grows out of it don’t look anything alike. The dead body that we bury in the ground and the resurrection body that comes from it will likewise be dramatically different.
You get a hint at the diversity of resurrection glory by looking at the diversity of bodies not only on earth but in the skies—sun, moon, stars—all these varieties of beauty and brightness. And we’re only looking at pre-resurrection “seeds”—who can imagine what the resurrection “plants” will be like!
This image of planting a dead seed and raising a live plant is a mere sketch at best, but perhaps it will help in approaching the mystery of the resurrection body—but only if you keep in mind that when we’re raised, we’re raised for good, alive forever! The corpse that’s planted is no beauty, but when it’s raised, it’s glorious. Put in the ground weak, it comes up powerful. The seed sown is natural; the seed grown is supernatural—same seed, same body, but what a difference from when it goes down in physical mortality to when it is raised up in spiritual immortality! (1 Corinthians 15:37-44)
Today we are left with a bunch of ashes. However, the Bible teaches that God will raise up for Beth a new body from these ashes. It will be a body free of diseases and limitation. It will be a body fit for a child of God. It will be a body that will allow her to take in life fully.
I don’t think this is wishful thinking. I believe this is a promise anchored to the historically verifiable resurrection of Jesus.
I encourage you today to put your hope in something more than what you can see and touch. I encourage you to put your faith in the God who made us and has reached out to us in Christ.
So share your stories and to continue to reflect on the lessons you learned from Beth’s life. I encourage you to embrace with a smile the diversity that is among you. Beth wanted you to be a family but she also wanted you to think for yourself.
I’m sure she’d tell you that she made a bunch of mistakes along the way (we all would), but I think she would also say that tried to live life fully while she was alive. She lived with her eyes, her heart, and her mind open. She appreciated and cherished life and we thank God for her. We would honor her best by doing the same.
Father, we can only hope that if we were afflicted as Beth was that we would handle the situation with as much class, dignity and perspective as Beth did. Thank you for her example. Thank you for her spirit. Thank you for her passion.
Father, we ask you to welcome Beth into the place that you have prepared for her. We pray that you grant her that life that is abundant and full.
Lord, please help this family. Help them as they deal with their loss. Help them to draw close to each other. Help them to find and hold firmly to You.
Please protect and keep us until that day when we shall be together again with You. We ask in Jesus’ name.