Elizabeth Faye (Money) Bickford Memorial Service
It is so heart warming for me to read and hear the memories others have of Betty. I haven’t been the pastor at Damariscotta Baptist for long and so I have only had a few years to get to know Betty. I have spent time with her and listened to her stories of teaching, especially her time on Isle la Haut. And as a fellow teacher I can relate to her love for her students and her desire to do whatever she could to help them to learn. Betty may have given birth to only one child, but in her heart she invested her love and energy to many other people’s children. 
I believe Betty was able to see in children the same thing Jesus did. It’s interesting that in the Scripture we read today, Matthew 19:14, Jesus was in the midst of teaching parents on marriage when the little children came up to Him. At that time in history, any respectable rabbi would have been indignant and angry with such a disruption. In the Jewish culture at that time, children were seen as worthless until the age of accountability. If you go back to the original Greek, the age of the children in this passage would have been the very age Betty spent her time with, they were of kindergarten age. But note what Jesus says, “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me.”  Think about it, children wanted to come to Jesus, He was the kind of man children felt comfortable being around. Children are often a very good judge of character. I have no doubt Betty had a similar character. The little children loved being around her. It was because she treated them like special human beings. Much like Jesus did. 
Jesus also gives us a glimpse of what heaven is like in today’s Scripture. Jesus said, “God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.” 
God’s kingdom is made up of people like children? 
If that is true, why do we grow up and lose our child likeness? What is it about children that fits in heaven? 
Children see things without labels or prejudice. They haven’t had time or experiences to influence them to think a certain way. They just live, eyes open, excited to be. No wonder Betty enjoyed being with kindergartners every day. 
Children embrace vulnerability. They recognize they need someone to help them out. Moms, Dads and teachers are supposed to be there to do just that. Maybe that is why they can be so free to play, they don’t have the weight of having to perform, an image to protect, their vulnerability allows them to give the big stuff to their protector. Vulnerability seems to be a significant trait for those in heaven. 
Children live in the moment. They don’t drag their past into the present and they don’t worry about tomorrow. They put themselves totally into the moment. 
Betty had that ability. She was able to express the gratitude and thankfulness of the smallest gesture. She never took any good deed for granted. In a way, she recognized the outlook of the kindergarten children she taught. 
Heaven isn’t a place we go to when we die, it can be experienced right here, right now. The Gospel of Mark tells us in chapter one, verse fifteen, “The Kingdom of God is near!” One has to be like a child to recognize it. 
Unfortunately, when we become grown-up, it takes us longer to recognize, unless we experience a pivotal moment. You know the kind, a near death experience or the birth of a new child, when you recognize the significance of life and the wonder of it all. 
Something like heaven I suspect. 
Betty had that piece of childlikeness about her, that each of us who knew her connected with, as did her students. 
Jesus looked at the little children, and said the kingdom of heaven is made up of such as these. 
So true, so true, as Betty is there today, 
but then 
she had been there 
long before her death. 
Let’s pray. 
God thank you for your gift of Betty and the time she was able to spend here on earth with us. May we follow her example and live with peace and joy. May we love people for who they are and experience the moments in our day instead of living through them. We are blessed, thank you again. In Jesus Name, AMEN.
May the peace of God enfold us,
The love of God uphold us, 
The wisdom of God control us, 
As we allow the child in us 
lead us to God.