Isabel Lyle (MacCorkle) Kingdon
A Memorial Address by the Rev. James P. Cooper
Mitchellville, October 18, 2003
At the time of the passing of a friend, we are reminded of our own mortality. We naturally begin to think about the nature of the life to come. Our faith is tested when we ask ourselves if we really believe there is a heaven for us, but yet there is a lingering fear that if we are not obedient to Godís law we may end up in hell. There are so many different ideas about the life after death, so many different teachings within the doctrines of the various churches, that it is difficult to know what to believe.
At such times, it is best to seek comfort and instruction from what Jesus Himself taught about the kingdom of heaven, for with Him, we can be sure that He taught the truth, and that He taught from Divine Love for our eternal welfare.
Jesus said, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Mt. 28:18). Jesus Christ is the king of Heaven, and He alone is able to teach about heaven with absolute authority. Those who believe that He is the king of Heaven will never perish, but "will have eternal life" (John 3:15).
But who will go to heaven? Jesus said, "he that does the will of My Father Who is in heaven" (Mt. 7:21) will enter into the kingdom of heaven, not those who only call upon His name, saying "Lord, Lord" (Mt. 7:21).
Jesus also tells us who will go to heaven by telling us who will not go: He said, "Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Mt. 5:20). He also teaches that unless we become childlike and innocent, "You shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Mt. 18:3).
The gospels record in three different places (Mt. 19:16, Mk. 10:17, Lk. 18:18) that a rich young man asked Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life, to earn a place in heaven. In each of the three gospels, the record is the same. Jesus said to him that if he wished to go to heaven he must begin by being obedient to the Ten Commandments; then he should shun earthly possessions; be charitable to the poor; and do these things not because of what others may think, but because the Lord asks it of you.
In another place the gospels tell us that a lawyer asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus answered the question with another question, asking the lawyer what, in his opinion, was the law. He replied, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself" (Lk. 10:27), and Jesus told him that he was right.
The doctrine that Jesus Christ Himself taught is that if we wish to enter into heaven, to enjoy eternal life with Him, then we must do two things: To obey Godís commandments, and to love others by being kind and helpful to them.
If we were to ask ourselves to think of an example of someone who was kind and thoughtful, surely Isabel Kingdon would come to mind.
Isabel was born in Charleston, West Virginia, and lived in a variety of places and attended a variety of schools until finally settling in Lexington, Virgina. She graduated from Fairfield High School, then attended James Madison University for two years before transfering to the University of Virgina where she received a BS in Nursing. She began her career as a nurse at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland, but soon moved to the Prince Georgeís County Maryland Health Department where she worked for 37 years in a number of roles, most recently Public Health Program Chief.
Isabel and Bill met in 1971, and they were married in 1974. Their son Liam arrived in 1975, and their daughter Lyle 8 years later. Their life in College Park was a quiet one, centered around home, family, the neighborhood, church, and work. They also remained close with her brother Tork and sister Betsy.
Her choice of nursing for a career was a good one, because her unfailing cheerfulness, strength of character, and positive attitude was sure to make those around her feel better. Even recently when she was so ill, those who called to offer friendship and comfort found themselves cheered by simply talking to her for a few minutes.
And one cannot overlook the impact of her chocolate chip cookies on people far and wide, whether it be bidding wars for tins of cookies offered to fundraisers, or friends on sailing trips trying steal cookies from their friends on other boats when their own supplies were getting low, those wonderful cookies were her trademark. And it can now be revealed that the secret ingredient was not an ingredient at all Ė it was the way the cookies were prepared, the extra time with each step of the process, it was the way that she gave of herself in the things that she did for others.
Having enjoyed the benefits of her strength of character for so long, it was very hard to see her begin to slow down. She wanted to keep her battle with Cancer private because as a nurse she knew that sometimes people see the disease rather than the person who has the disease. She continued working, when her treatment schedule allowed, and even prepared and performed in a wonderful fundraising skit at the church just two weeks ago where she made a costume and introduced herself as "Hurricane Isabel." The body may fail, but a spirit like that cannot be defeated Ė even by Cancer.
The amazing thing is that as the years go by in her new life, her new, angelic body will begin to reflect the strength and vigor of her spirit. The doctrines of the New Church, which she loved, tell us that, "Those who are in heaven are continually advancing to the spring of life; and to a spring so much the more delightful and happy, the more thousands of years they live, and this to eternity, with increase according to the progressions and degrees of their love, charity and faith. Women who have died old and worn out with age, and have lived in faith in the Lord, in charity toward the neighbor, and in happy conjugial love with a husband, after a succession of years come more and more into the flower of youth and early womanhood, and into a beauty which exceeds all idea of beauty ever perceivable by our sight. Goodness and charity is what forms and makes a resemblance of itself, and causes the delight and beauty of charity to shine forth from the minutest parts of the face, so that they themselves are forms of charity. ÖIn a word, to grow old in heaven is to grow young; those who have lived in love to the Lord and in charity towards the neighbor, become such forms, or such beauties, in the other life. All the angels are such forms, with innumerable variety; and of these heaven consists" (HH 414).
A few minutes ago, we read what Jesus Christ Himself taught about what we must do, and how we must live, if we are to inherit eternal life. But what does He tell us about the life that awaits us there, the life that our friend Isabel is now entering?
The Lord taught many parables about heaven, usually comparing it to some kind of farm or vineyard because that was the kind of illustration that would be understood by the widest audience in that day. In each case, He said that entering heaven was like a harvest, for as the grains of wheat are all harvested, we too will all face death in our own time. Once there, there will be a judgment, and those who have followed the Ten Commandments, shunned material possessions, shown charity to the poor, and followed the Lord will find eternal happiness.
Once there, we will find that heaven is like a vineyard, or a kingdom, or a farm, or fishing in that there will be people working, doing things for others, using the tools and the soil and the gifts that have been given to them by God to produce things useful to others, to welcome newcomers, and to teach them about eternal life.
Isabel lived a life where she tried in all ways to be helpful to her family and friends. She tried to use whatever strength and skills she had to take from Godís bounty and cause it to multiply. She was a woman who tried to do what was right, and to help others. The Lord has promised that there will be a place for her where she will wait until, in the Lordís good time, she will be joined by her husband, when He said,
Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Fatherís house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1-3) Amen.
From the Old Testament
Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God. Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men. For a thousand years in Thy sight are as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night. Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as asleep; in the morning they are like grass which groweth up. In the morning it flourisheth and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down and withereth. The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they are fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. (Psalm 90:1-6,10,12)
The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all; and His tender mercies are over all His works. The Lord is righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works. The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear Him; he also will hear their cry, and will save them. The Lord preserveth all them that love Him; but all the wicked will He destroy. My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord; and let all flesh bless His holy name for ever and ever. (Psalm 145:8,9,17-21)
Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him. For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness unto childrenís children; to such as keep His covenant, and to those that remember His commandments to do them. (Psalm 103:13-18)
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the sill waters. He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his nameís sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou are with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23)
From the New Testament
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matt 6:19-21)
Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Fatherís house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1-3)
Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he called the Lord the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For He is not a God of the dead, but of the living; for all live unto Him. (Luke 20:37,38)
And Behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last (Rev. 22:12-14).
From the Doctrines of the New Church
[Everyone] is so created that as to their internal they cannot die; for they can believe in God, and can also love God, and can thus be conjoined with God by faith and love; and to be conjoined with God is to live to eternity. (AC 10591)
After the death of the body, the [personís spirit] appears in the spiritual world in a human form, altogether as it appeared in the natural world. [It] also enjoys the faculty of sight, of hearing, of speaking, and of feeling, as before in the world; and [it] is endowed with every faculty of thought, of will, and of action, as before in the world; in a word, [it] is a [human being] in all things and in every particular, as [it] was before in the world, except that [it] is not encompassed with that gross body which [it] had before; [the body is left behind with death, and the spirit never returns to it]. This continuation of life is what is meant by the resurrection. (Arcana Coelestia 10594, 10595)
[When a person] is said to die, Ö he does not die; he is only separated from the material body which had served him for use in the world, but which can no longer be of any use to him; for [the person himself] lives. [The person] is said to live, because [a human] is not a [human] from the body but from the spirit; for it is the spirit that thinks in [a person]; and the thought with affection which makes the spirit, also makes the [person]. Hence it is that when [someone] dies, they only pass from one world to another. (Heaven and Hell 445)
In order that [a person] may live to eternity, it is necessary that what is mortal, or the material body, should be taken away Ö by death. When this is done that which is immortal is uncovered, and [the person] becomes [an inhabitant of the spiritual world] still in the human form. (Divine Providence 324:3)
When a [person] passes from the natural into the spiritual world, he takes with him all things belonging to him as a [human being], except his earthly body. For he is still in a body, as he was in the world, and to all appearance in the same body; but the body is spiritual and wholly distinct from what is natural. [Everyone, when] a spirit in a spiritual body, enjoys every external and internal sense which he had when he was in the world. In a word, when [anyone] passes from one life into the other, or from one world into the other, it is the same as if he passed from one place to another; and he carries with him all things which he had in himself as a [human being]. Therefore after death, which is only the death of the earthly body, it cannot be said that [a person] has lost anything that belonged to him as a [human being]. (Heaven and Hell 461)