Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | March 1, 2014

Homily for Katherine Kyle Bowden

Old Post Chapel, Ft Myer, Virginia

Old Post Chapel, Ft Myer, Virginia

Dr. John Snow was our preacher at Emmaus Baptist Church,  Poquoson, VA for about a decade.  He is at Zoar Baptist Church in Deltaville, VA now.  He was gracious and generous to drive up to Arlington to give the homily at Katherine Kyle Bowden’s burial service, Feb 21st, 2014.

Here is what he said about my late wife, Nellie.

Katherine Bowden

Katherine was a native of Beckley West Virginia.  Katherine was born in 1948, her parents were Bonnie and Jack, she grew up with one sister and one brother, Jackie and Ronnie.  Thirty eight years ago began the great adventure of her life when she married Jim and launched herself into the role of an Army wife.  Katherine became the mother of Molly, Albert, and Maggie.  Later she collected two more sons, Peter and Russell.  The lights of her life followed soon after.  Four grandchildren:  Sophia, Colin, Lillian, and Bonnie.  Katherine had many nieces, nephews, great nieces, and great nephews, but her family and her children did not end with her immediate family, that was only where her family began.  Katherine was a mother, aunt, sister, cousin, and friend to many children and to many families far beyond those who were her relations.  Hundreds of children knew and experienced her love firsthand.

Katherine was a woman of devotion.  She was devoted to her family.  She was devoted to her students.  She was devoted to her faith.  I met Katherine in 2001 when I became her pastor, but I didn’t really know Katherine until she began teaching in the children’s Sunday school department.  It was immediately obvious that Katherine had a gift for teaching children.  It didn’t take long for Katherine to become an indispensable member of the children’s education program.  Educating children, however, was not Katherine’s only gift nor was it her only passion.  Katherine was also a natural evangelist.  Her pulpit was the relationships she built with people.  For Katherine, sharing Christ was easy and natural.  A teacher once told me that we don’t have to go looking for opportunities to share our faith, we just need to take advantage of the opportunities that come to us every day.  Katherine was that kind of evangelist.  She shared her faith in a way that was always natural and loving.  Her spirit was contagious and even if you disagreed with her you never doubted that she cared deeply for you.

Sometimes Christ followers are thought of as arrogant because we hold our beliefs with such confidence.  I doubt anyone would ever accuse Katherine of being arrogant, but she was both confident and secure in her faith.  Katherine was not always confident in her faith, but when she got involved in learning and studying the Bible her baby steps soon grew to giant steps.  As promised in Romans 12 and Hebrews 4, Katherine’s heart and mind were transformed as she grew deeper into God’s word.  For Katherine teaching others and sharing what God had put in her heart was the most natural thing for her to do.

On Katherine’s behalf I would like to comment briefly on two scriptures, Psalm 23 and 1John 5.  Psalm 23 is immediately recognizable to almost everyone we know.  For the sake of time I will not read it (again?) but wish to call your attention to the tone or voice of the Psalm.  It is a Psalm of the utmost confidence in God.  There is not the slightest hint of hesitation or questioning of either the existence or essential goodness of God.  David is confident, not in his own strength, not in his military genius, not in anything of this earth, but confident in his standing before God.  The God who delivered him from trouble time and time again, and the God who forgave the worst of his sins.  The message of 1John 5 is equally bold to that of Psalm 23:  “this is the witness, God has given us eternal life.  This life is in his Son.  He who has the Son has the life, he who does not have the Son does not have the life.  These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.”  To some these might be fighting words.  How dare you say I don’t have eternal life  just because I don’t believe in God or Jesus the way you do, or the way John did, or the way Peter and Paul did, or Mary, or David, or Naomi and Ruth, or Moses, or Abraham.  But listen to those words again and imagine they are not coming from me, but imagine they are coming straight from the mouth and heart of Katherine.  “This is the witness.  God has given us eternal life.  This life is in his son.  He who has the son has the life, he who does not have the son does not have the life.  I tell you this so that those of you who believe in Jesus may know you have eternal life, and those of you who don’t believe in Jesus may receive eternal life.  Those aren’t fighting words.  They are words of love and grace.  They were God’s words to Katherine, and now they are Katherine’s words to us.  May God bless you.  And thank your Father for sharing your precious gift of Katherine Kyle Bowden with all of us.  Amen!

Thank you, Pastor John. 

Katherine was raised a Methodist.  She was a cultural and baby Christian most of her life.  Her grandparents had the picture of Jesus in the room where they watched TV and read.  They had well-used open Bibles and devotionals on their coffee table and TV trays.  But, Katherine didn’t make the connection on why they were such good people until much later in life.

When we moved to Poquoson, Virginia in July 1989 we shopped around for churches.  When she compared other’s preaching to Jay Lawson at Emmaus (actually pronounced Emmy-us in Pah-coh-sen!) Baptist, she knew to go the church a few blocks from our home.

On July 8th, 1990 she was fully dunked as a Southern Baptist.  She walked the aisle and made the commitment on her own – as usual.  She was almost 42 and wanted to commit her life and family to Lord Jesus Christ.   She did it well.

Her five years of Bible Study Fellowship grew her from baby Christian to awesome, mature Christian woman.

Speaking to John’s reference about alleged Christian arrogance in the homily,  she told me – after a few years of Bible study – that she didn’t understand why everyone was NOT a Southern Baptist.  If they just read the Bible and believed it, they should know they should be Baptist!  I laughed and told her that comment sounded very, very “Baptist.”   She didn’t mean it with a hint of pride or conflict.  She said it loving admiration for the Word of God.

I deeply appreciate John Snow’s homily.  It was well done.  It was delivered warmly, personally, and with conviction.

I’m grateful for all the time Nellie and I spent talking about death and dying, Heaven and Hell, the Bible and God.  It affirmed her out of body, near death experience at age 16 when she was run over by a boat on a lake.   It made her confident about dying in the Lord.

But, it did not slack her thirst to live here – for me and her family – especially her grandbabies – as well as her friends and the ministry that was her walk in life.   Her walk was her talk.  Her every day, from rising to resting, was her ministry.

God is love.  Katherine loved.  She loved God unconditionally – and rested in His unconditional love.   She traded in unconditional love with me.   She loved selflessly.  She loved ferociously.  She loved passionately.

Nellie is so beloved.

My parents were buried here, my sister was married here and now my wife was buried here.  Beautiful old Army chapel for warrior Christians

My parents were buried here, my sister was married here and now my wife was buried here. Beautiful old Army chapel for warrior Christians




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