December 20, 2007

A Service of Witness to the Resurrection and Memorial Service for Bettie Shenk

Meditation for Bettie Shenk

Presented by Rev. Marc Sherrod, Bethel Pastor

When I was reading quite a few 18th and 19th century funeral sermons as part of my dissertation research, I noted that it was common, then, to use the scriptural phrase, "mother in Israel," to recall the life and faith of a woman whose faith embodied the very life-blood of a particular congregation, whose deeply planted spiritual roots flourished in the soil of the Church, whom all recognized as a wise, exemplary, godly figure.

I doubt she'd want me to slip over into eulogy today, but it is hard not to think about Bettie with deep and affectionate maternal imagery, for she always came across to me as one who cared deeply for her children, which, in Bettie's case, would be all of God's children, regardless of race, class, ethnicity or creed. I know that some Moms, even more so, some parents in general, can come across as meddlesome and overly protective in their concern, but such was not my experience with Bettie.

Moreover, her daily commitment, spiritual demeanor, and habits of mind and heart all spoke loudly to me of one who followed the Lord with her whole being: voice, intellect, emotions, material resources -- a real devotee of the soul, one who believed in and acted upon God's inclusive and expansive orientation to all the sons and daughters of humanity.

A "mother in Israel." I could think, as well, of many other useful scriptural terms to help us reflect on and give thanks for Bettie's life-long journey to honor her baptism and to respond to the grace of being formed and ever re-formed into the image of Christ.