Meditation on John 14:1-6, 25-27

March 12, 2022

Pastor Karen Crawford

The Presbyterian Church, Coshocton, OH

In Memory of Margaret Louise Mickelson

April 3, 1927 – February 18, 2022

    Bob and Louise met in Louise’s hometown of Cambridge, Ohio. Bob had come there from Albert Lea, MN, to work as a metallurgist. Louise was a telephone operator for AT&T. That was back in the days when you could actually talk to a real person—and not a computer-simulated voice.  Bob and Louise were married in a Lutheran church in Cambridge in 1957. The first time they met was at a couple’s gathering in someone’s home. The second time they saw each other was at a local dance place called the Casa Loma, on route 40, just outside of Cambridge.

   “She seemed more quiet than other women,” Bob says. “There was nothing loud or rough about her.”

    They had 3 children—two girls, Bev and Linda, and a boy, Steve. Throughout their childhood, adolescence and adulthood, Louise never stopped being interested in everything they were doing.

   The family moved away from Ohio briefly for Bob’s work, but then moved back in 1969 to be closer to Louise’s parents. Bob found work at Clow’s in Coshocton and the family made their home on Knob Hill Road where Linda, Pete, and their son, Eric, make their home today. As living out their faith has always been a priority for Bob and Louise, they became active members of the Presbyterian Church in 1970. They never missed worship, and the children never missed Sunday school, even if they were at a sleepover on Saturday night.

     Louise was active with Presbyterian Women and Prayer Fellowship and enjoyed helping with food for funeral receptions. She was ordained a deacon in 1979, serving with her gifts of compassion—visiting people, writing cards, making calls, delivering flowers, and taking people to doctor’s appointments. She was also active in Trirosis and volunteered as a Pink Lady, working in the gift shop at Coshocton Hospital.

    She had a warm, welcoming personality. For years, she enjoyed hosting other couples for bridge games at their home. She enjoyed feeding people, Bob says, and was a good cook, sometimes making Syrian dishes that she remembered from childhood. She loved gardening with flowers. She grew geraniums that wintered inside their home in containers and replanted them outside in the spring.

     Her family always came first. She didn’t take a job until her youngest daughter, Linda, was in 4th grade, and then it was just part time. People in the community remember Louise from her years as a tour guide for the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum and her 14 years working as a library aide at Washington Elementary School. Bob says that people would approach him and Louise while they were eating in restaurants, wanting to tell her how they remembered her reading them stories when they were children.

    While Bev was showing me pictures of their mom, she said it was difficult to find any of Louise alone. She was often holding a baby or small child, grandchild or great grandchild. She was always smiling. She had a kind, gentle spirit and was often concerned for family and friends. She was a worrier—that’s how she showed that she cared.

    The family agree that she had her opinions and was comfortable expressing them, but the way she influenced her husband and children, Bob says, was by example, rather than preaching a sermon. She was “a fine wife.” To describe her in one word, he says, it would be “love.”

   They would have celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in June.

   They were partners, always together. When her health declined, she was able to stay in independent living with support at Willow Brook in Delaware, OH. Then, the pandemic hit, and she began to struggle more with dementia, and the family wasn’t allowed to go in the building anymore. Bob made the decision to go with her to memory care at Kemper House of Worthington so she wouldn’t go alone.

    She slipped away peacefully in the early morning hours of Feb. 18.

    Bob said, “She’s in a better place.”

    Their love story and desire to always be together reminds me very much of the love of Jesus for his disciples—and their love for him. In the gospel of John, Jesus is saying a long goodbye, telling them not to worry about him and not to grieve, because their separation won’t be forever. Do not let your hearts be troubled, he says. “Believe in God. Believe in me.” 

      He tries to tell them what it’s like—where he’s going, when he goes home to be with the Father. He says, “In my Father’s house, there’s many rooms—or dwelling places.” In other words, there’s plenty of space for everyone where Jesus is going. But we can’t go there on our own. We need Jesus to go there for us, ahead of us. He is our mediator and the source of our faith and salvation. He is the first one to return to the Father, making peace between God and human beings through the cross and empty tomb—his sacrifice for the sake of the world God so loves. Jesus says, “If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?”

    The words are lost on his disciples, though they have been with him a long time—watching all his miracles, helping to feed the multitude, walking and talking with him, and sitting at his feet while he teaches. But their grief doesn’t allow his words to sink in. Jesus is leaving them! That’s all they hear him saying when Jesus reminds them that they know the way to where he is going. He’s not really talking about an actual road, friends, or a bricks and mortar place. But they are creatures of the earth and that’s what they are thinking.

   Thomas bursts out, “But we don’t know the way! How can we know the way?”

   Jesus is talking about a way of life, following in his footsteps, obeying God, imitating his loving, self- giving example, serving others with our gifts and talents. He says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

    The disciples remain confused by Jesus’ last words. Only much later—with the resurrection appearances, and the arrival of the Spirit that empowers them to do God’s will—that’s when Jesus’ reassuring words and instructions begin to make sense. Thomas will be the one who needs to see the marks of the nails on Christ’s hands and touch the wounds of the risen Christ in order to believe in him—and the promise of our resurrection with him.

    And friends, he’s just like us. We all need reassurance. Especially when our loved ones are no longer with us—loved ones who have shared our life and have made us who we are today—because of their love, support, and example—preaching not by words but through their acts of lovingkindness.

     What touched my heart the most in the story Louise’s family shared with me was how they were not able to go inside the building during the worst months of the pandemic to visit Bob and Louise. The children and grandchildren would come and stand outside Bob and Louise’s room and visit through an open window, in spite of cold, rain, and snow.

     Love found a way to be together!

     Friends, Christ is the way, the truth, and the life—for you, for me, for everyone. The Son has prepared a place for all who will believe, in every time and place. Louise and the Great Cloud of Witnesses are all cheering us on, urging us to keep on running the race of faith. Don’t give up hope! Don’t be discouraged. Hold onto your faith.

     Believe in God. Believe in the Son. Believe in the Spirit that helps us with every step we take. Remember, as the Apostle Paul tells us, that we are never separated from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. With us now, he is coming again in glory to take us to the place that he has prepared for us. So that where he is, we may be also.

    Love has found a way!

Amen. 

Link to obituary: https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/coshocton-oh/louise-mickelson-10595525

Published by karenpts

I am the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Smithtown, New York on Long Island. Come and visit! We want to share God’s love and grace with you and encourage you on your journey of faith. I have served Presbyterian congregations in Minnesota, Florida and Ohio since my ordination in 2011. I am a 2010 graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary and am working on a doctor of ministry degree with Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. I am married to Jim and we have 5 grown children and two grandchildren in our blended family. We are parents to fur babies, Liam, an orange tabby cat, and Rory, a standard poodle.

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