Sarah Jane Bartholomew Funeral Services

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April 26, 1966




It's been said that the true measure of your parenthood is what happens to your grandchildren, what they become. I think the finest tribute I could pay Sister Sarah Christenson today is to describe briefly my observations of three of her grandchildren who were here in this ward when we arrived some nine years ago. Their parents were away presiding over a Mission in Germany. I'd never met the girls, but on more than one occasion I would return to our home and speak of Francine Stewart and Elaine Harris and Joanne Romney and tell my daughters how impressed I was with their demeanor, their culture, the tasteful way in which they dressed, and most of all their faithfulness in the Kingdom of God on earth. And, then I would add that I looked forward to meeting their parents because I already admired them greatly. Today I should like to say that I can greatly admire their grandchildren, these three and twenty-three other grandchildren of Sarah Christenson, and there are thirty-two great grandchildren who can call her name blessed. She was a queenly exemplar of what one will do for the gospel and what the Gospel will do for one. It's a wonderful experience that we could all look forward to reach our sunset years and find there a golden glow that comes through loving honorable children and gracious grandchildren which has certainly been the case of Sister Sarah Christenson. She has left three living daughters and three living sons, all active in the church, distinguished themselves in their chosen fields and held true to the faith and demanded the respect of their fellowmen.

It been said that Sister Christenson made a home of many houses. I'd like to add this, in each of those homes there were many windows, windows of interest of the world around her. Many homes I'm told that she had, perhaps some 12 houses as she moved with her husband on his assignments to positions of leadership in the church. For example, he was a leader, a principal of what is now Dixie college, later became the principle or President up at my Alma Mater, the old L.D.S. High School and then he moved on to Rexburg where he was the first President of Ricks as a college. And, then down to Hinckley to preside over the Millard Academy, and at the B.Y.U. along the way as a Professor. And as they moved, they moved into new houses and each she made into a home. But with all those windows, she developed a balance that brings to one inner peace and strength and happiness before her fellowmen. It was Alfred Lord Tennyson who wrote, "That tower of strength," speaking of an individual, "which stood foursquare to all the winds that blew."
May I briefly with you now catch some glimpses of Sister Christenson through some of these windows, these windows of interest in her home. The first I should like to call the window from which she heard and gave the sound of music. She must have been among the morning stars that sung for joy at the Creation because she loved music so much. She liked the symphony, the opera, drama and at the age of 80 she was taking piano lessons again. She also loved the dance. That window opened out a wonderful world before her. The second window I should like to call the window of the written word. She continued to rediscover life and keep young and vibrant through the printed word. Even after her eyes had somewhat failed her, her daughter and son-in-law and their children would continue at her request to read the daily newspaper.

She wanted to know what was going on in the world. She loved good literature. When she was in her 70's with one of her granddaughters back east, she studied at Columbia, Shakespeare and she also loved the Scriptures. Often like another great individual of balance, Thomas Jefferson, Jefferson said that he made a practice of reading something wholesome after he had shut the door of his bedroom at night and before he closed his eyelids in sleep, and Sister Christenson I'm told similarly often took among her late reading the Book of Mormon. A third window she looked out from the wonderful window of work. She was the fourth of her parent's 11 children. Her father had been called by Brigham Young to pioneer in Sanpete County and so his life became not a career but a mission and so it was with his children and particularly with Sarah. They raised sheep and cattle and crops and early she learned the blessedness of hard work in her mother's home, washing the dishes at eight, called out often taking her knitting to knit socks for her brothers and stockings for her sisters and to crochet a cover for the bed, more than one bed. She painted china and as she moved from each house after her marriage, she took pride in wanting to leave it better than she found it. She redecorated, she touched the curtains and the drapes, and so when she left, the home shed a gleam that wasn't there when she arrived. A fourth window was that of the great outdoors Her honeymoon was in a white top in the middle of summer down to Kanab where even hills look hot in July, but she loved riding in the wagon and she loved horseback riding, even riding into her declining years.

And fifth I'd like to call the window from without looking at her in her home. She did make each home better. But, I can't think of a greater tribute to her parenthood than to realize that they moved into about 12 different homes and yet her 8 children, her 6 living children came out so well. I've moved with our family once and I know of the heartaches, and the tearing away and sometimes the scars that come to young children when they're moved, but she moved here some 12 times and yet they became men and women of stature. And I also think a great tribute to her as well as to her family is the fact that she lived with her daughter and her daughter's husband, her own husband having passed away in 1931. She lived with them for 28 years and together she grew with the grand-children. What a tribute that is to her and to her daughter and her daughter's daughters and son to know how well they lived together. In this day when some of us are too prone to too early want to put our parents away.

And finally the sixth window and maybe we should use the plural and say windows, the windows that were described by both Isaiah and Malachi and requoted in her favorite Book of Mormon. First Isaiah said, "And I will make thy windows of agates and all thy children shall be taught of the Lord and great shall be the peace of thy children, no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper." Isaiah is speaking of those that are faithful in the cause of the Lord. Windows of agates. And then Malachi said, "And prove me now herewith," saith the Lord of Hosts, "if I will not open you the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing that there shall be soon not enough to receive it." She loved the Lord, she measured life in the framework of eternity. She believe in the essayist, I think it was Emerson who said, "The Lesson of life is to believe what the years and the centuries say as against the hours." What a wonderful feeling to sleep off into the next phase of this eternal quest knowing that your children and your children's children are carrying on in the traditions of righteousness that you so tried to embrace. Someone could say, Sister Christenson lives in these wonderful children and these noble grandchildren, but she lives in herself as she knew. She knew that this was just a step, a step toward another home and she knew that the Lord was speaking to her as well as to Martha as he was coming down to road toward Bethany and Martha ran out to tell the Savior that if he had been there her brother Lazarus would not have died and then Jesus responded, "Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth in me though he were dead, shall die and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." And she also knew that the Lord was speaking to her and her children and her children's children when He said to the eleven on that night after the last supper, "Peace I leave with you, not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid."

May the Lord bless this good family that they may continue to bless their fellowmen with the example of their faithfulness in the Kingdom of our Father and may we be blessed as friend and admirers, that we may take strength from this woman and her family as wonderful guides to us as to how to find real happiness not only here but in the unending tomorrows that continue, I pray in the name of Jesus, Amen.


Some of you will speak of her as Mother, some sister, some as Grandmother, or great Grandmother, I'll speak of her as Grandma C., Grandmother Christenson. I'm sure the family will understand because once you're married into this family, you become a member thereof with all of them. I'm sure you friends will understand because you relate to her as you remember her, as I relate to her as I remember her. I probably feel the weight of the words that I must say more because I appreciate from the vantage point of having been her bishop and from the vantage point of having been related through marriage in her home to her daughter and among her brothers and among her other children who are all like loved ones to me. And so I've seen her in the home and I've seen her in the church. I've seen her play the role of Great Grandmother and mother and I've seen her love encompass us all. So my tears aren't sad tears, don't misunderstand and especially you great grandchildren, don't misunderstand Uncle Dick. I'm not sad today, I'm really not but I'm so proud, the story is so beautiful, the ending so perfect that as I've studied and contemplated her life, the beauty of it pierces me so deep that I felt unworthy to take this spot today.

Unworthy because she did what I hope to do. She found the way to life. What is the key? As I try to synthesize Grandmother, I synthesize a person who knew and did understand life and was a blessed to enshrine the word work. I've heard the apostles of the Lord say we should build up within our children the understanding of the importance of work, of its cherished possession. I've heard the scriptures say, "Faith without works is dead." And then I think on dear Grandmother Christenson and all of us who knew her will always remember that she enshrined work. As we'll talk about her we'll say that she deplored the night She used to say to us, "the days aren't long enough." And everybody used to wonder how she could get it all done. This dear woman didn't incorporate work without a full rounded life as President Ashton has said.

Grandmother C found the key as she would cook within her kitchen. She mastered in her life the ability to blend faith with her love and let it be expressed in her work every day. I wish that I and my children and all of us who knew her could blend so well our souls that we could in all that we did blend what she did, her love, her faith from childhood in the Gospel, in the church, in God our Eternal Father, in life its very self with her work. That's what everybody saw, the result in work of this faith and love. Her work was spent in the Relief Society, Her love was expressed through the Relief Society. Right up to her aged years, she would climb up that hill snow rain or sleet, you all know, with her cane by her side if necessary or asking who can drive her because there was a love, and through that love she expressed for her fellowmen her work.

As her Bishop, I saw her every tithing settlement come heck or high water, Grandma had to see that someone got her to the Bishop's office so she could account to the Lord. Every Sacrament meeting in every way whether it came from Word of Wisdom to her daily prayers, her love intermingled with her sublime faith and understanding of life was so beautiful, into her lemon meringue pies that she freely distributed, to the dinners that she loved to give to bring joy whether it was to a grandchild or a neighbor or a life long friend. This was Grandma C. and as Lucile wrote when she wrote an article about her when she was nominated for the most outstanding mother of the year, "She had the capacity in this beautiful blend and understanding of life, to carry it from her pioneer years as a girl, through the jet age to today.

So her grandkids could remember her out here on what we used to call the farm right up here by this chapel in her seventies and climbing on a horse. Sure they can remember her as President Ashton said, accompanying them off to college. These wonderful girls can remember, those who were blessed to have her in their home, these of her grandchildren who had her right there in their home were blessed and I was blessed for having had the association in so many ways. Let me give you one of them. Last night Edythe Rae and I were reminiscing and she said, "You know I'm still wearing some of the clothes that Grandmother C. sewed for my trousseau years ago. I remember when I was going to marry Elaine and I came into the home and there was Grandmother working late at night sewing the dresses that I was going to see for many a year while I tried to get through school. She was busy and busy with her love and her faith inculcated in her work. Her work was always dedicated to help somebody, to give somewhere. When I walked into that room I said, "Gee Grandmother, that's a big job to take on and she said to me., "Well, I've decided that I'm going to live long enough that I'm going to see each one of these girls married and I'm going to make everyone their trousseau. She did. She sewed each of them the most beautiful trousseaus, and each one them wore them for years and are still wearing them. What a blessing to know her.

That wasn't all of it. Even later, Mother and Dad Robbins were on a Mission and she felt responsible here at home. I visited with her one night, then as the Bishop and she said, "Don't worry, I'm not going to die until they get home and until I'm ready. You can count of it." She meant it. She went through a few heart attacks. When I was there visiting with Sheldon he said, "Well she isn't going to give up, she knows her patriarchal blessing has given her a promise and she's going to do more until she's ready." And that's what she did. What a beautiful fulfillment of any patriarchal blessing. Those of you who don't know, Grandmother C. was promised in her patriarchal blessing that she would live until she was ready to die, till she had completed what she wanted to complete and was ready to go., And, I've never seen a sweeter more stubborn spirit that held the Lord to His promise. She did right down to the last. She was there all the way fighting until the time came that the functions of her normal body wouldn't keep up with her jet age spirit. When she couldn't do all that she had to do to wait on somebody or to be busy doing something, that's the first I noticed Grandma C. start to get unhappy, because she didn't want to be the receiver. She wanted her love and faith to be giving. And so when she couldn't go out and plant her vegetable garden the same one she had when she had boarders in her house, in her eighties any more and she planted it clear up through 87 or 88 her own vegetable garden. She had her own flowers, the same ones she had when you were children, right up to the last didn't she.

She gave us the living example of what the Prophet David O. McKay tells us in this blend of life which Father in Heaven has sent us here to obtain. She had faith in life, she saw its beauty. She had faith in God and the purpose of her existence and she let that guide all of her love. Her love was expressed and guided b her faith and she knew that there is only one way to use your faith, there is only one way to use your love, she knew it was through darn hard work. That's the only way to express it.

You see how I got carried away. I wrote it all down, but I can't read it except for the one thing that I think summarizes what I observed Grandma C. to be. I wrote down, No great life can be built to a successful conclusion without intense work directed in its application by faith and love. Grandma Christenson found and made a part of her world these three great keys to success. She took to its glory for our example didn't she, these three keys, faith, love and she showed it in every little deed she performed, work. And she tried to teach everyone of her children, everyone of her grandchildren, everyone of us who married into the family, and everyone of you who knew her and love her, friends and associates that you should be proud to get up in the morning and work and work and work because only through that can you help people, can you aid people, can you love people, can you build up the church, can you be where you should be in the House of the Lord when you're asked to be there, through work. And she did it every minute of her life that I know of. All of my association, I remember running in the house and being shocked to death. I just married Elaine and I came running into Mother and Dad's house on South Temple and I could smell paint all through the kitchen. I went over and opened up the basement door and what did I see. Down in the basement of this large old home were these great big red stone foundations and down there was Grandmother C. painting the whole basement, all up the steps paint on her hands and a little paint in her hair and she was way up in her seventies. I stood back in amazement. I've never seen any of my grandparents painting when they got past their fifties let alone their seventies.

To me she has been a great great testimony. I pray with all my heart and soul that I might, that you might, that each of us who have had the joy of her association may follow her example. I might say in humility that because I'm blessed to have been married to such a wonderful association, to those of you who knew Grandmother Christenson as a friend, her children have truly already inherited her heritage. There isn't one of them that I know who doesn't love work. There isn't one of them that I know today who doesn't remain faithful to the Gospel. There isn't one of them that I know who doesn't' love. You only have to be married in the family to know that you find you're just like one of them, you become a son to all of them. May God bless them all to continue till they all join with her in such a happy occasion as I know they will have. Right to this day they're all married in the temple, all of her children. Right to this day all of her grandchildren that have been married have been married in the temple. May god bless us all that all may do so and join with her as she's joined now with you father and her brothers and sisters and the loved ones. I thought last night as we were down at the Mortuary, what a beautiful time it is there with all of her loved ones and the marvelous time and association they're having. We'll miss her for a little while but won't it be grand to see her again. May God bless us that we can do it with honor, that she'll be proud of us as her heritage, I pray in Jesus Name, Amen.


My brothern and sisters, as you know as a Bishop, we run into several experiences in our time of service and I want you to know that these past three days have been one of the sweetest experiences that I have ever had. Yes, I have seen in our ward some of our people pass on, I've seen some who have had wonderful successful experiences, and I've seen some who have felt badly because of disobedience to the commandments of our Father. But, never have I experienced a daughter who is so prepared to meet her Master as Sister Sarah Christenson has and is. I'm sure her passing has been one of sweetness and one of a testimony that God lives, and that Jesus is the Christ, And I'm rather sure, I feel impressed that if she were here this day and that we could hear her voice and see her, which I am sure that she is here, but if we could hear her voice, she would want us to say and to know that Jesus is the Christ and that our Father in deed does live, because as we have heard this afternoon, and as we have personally witnessed her life and her example, you couldn't catch any other idea than that she was bearing witness to all of us that the gospel is true.

As you recall the Savior as He called forth His twelve apostles and was about to be crucified to face the judgment, He said this to His twelve, which I am so sure that Sister Christenson must have heard His words because of her life. Then Jesus said unto His disciples, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take upon his cross and follow me, for whosever shall save his life shall lose it and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul, or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul, for the Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father with His angels and then shall He reward every man according to his works." In deed it has been true that Sister Christenson had born her cross and the cross of the Savior and I'm sure that this day and the time to come, she is receiving her reward for her faithfulness, for her example, for her love and kindness to us. I can't help but think and have thought the last few days that I'm sure that the Lord has prepared this day and age for you and I to come to the earth and in addition to that He has prepared some especially to come in our day that we might look up to them and follow their leadership and their example. And I am convinced that so it has been with Sister Christenson. She has been a special person for us to follow and to look up to.

I am told that Sister Christenson has been a President of the Relief Society in the McKinley and in the Eleventh Ward. My what a privilege and what an opportunity it must have been for that Bishop to have her as his Relief Society President. I understand that she has also been a counselor in the Relief Society Presidency as well as a Primary President. Think how fortunate those young boys and girls must have been. And if you can imagine it she was still doing her visiting teach at the age of 88. What a blessing. I'm also told that on her last trip to the hospital she had to get some of her affairs in order and one of those primary affairs was to have her daughter sit down with her and square up with the Lord and pay her tithing. I think this gives us a little insight into her faithfulness and her love towards her Father in Heaven and to our Master.

I recall just a couple of years ago I was with Bishop Harris and Brother Bruderer and we were calling on the widows of the ward at Xmas time and as we went into Sister Christenson's home, we could see that beam in her eye and you could feel the welcome that she gave to you and there she was with a refining glass out and she was reading the Book of Mormon. I thought to myself what a wonderful woman, what a keen mind she must have had and a desire to know the truth and to read the words of our Father in Heaven.

It was but just a short time ago that my wife met with an accident and broke her arm and if you can imagine it when Sister Christenson came over with a dish full of cookies, she was only apologetic, just four days later imagine it, for not having come sooner. I'm sure that the effort it took for her to make those cookies and bake them and prepare them was a lot more work than it would take us to do it even as unadapted as I might be.

God bless her memory. What a privilege it has been to know her. She was proud to be a Latter Day Saint. She was proud to always come here as she could as Bishop Harris said to join with us in our worship. I know that there were many days that she would come into this building and if it had of been us, we would have been home in bed, but because of her will and desire, to be here in worship and to be in the place at the appointed hour and the appointed time she should be here, she was here because of this great desire. I'm sure that to her family she has been a wonderful example and to her grandchildren as they set their goals in life that they will want to become like their great grandmother or their grandmother. And I'm sure that all of us if we were as prepared as she is to meet her Master, indeed it would be a compliment to each of us. May the Lord bless her children and her children's children and all of her family, and to bless us in her ward that we may keep in mind the beautiful things that she has done that we too may so organize our lives that we may be prepared to meet our Maker as she was. Again I express my gratitude to our Father in Heaven for this privilege of having known her. May the Lord bless us. May we at this time, being a reminder that the Lord so often places before us, may it be a reminder to us that we may be faithful, that we may be willing to serve our Father in Heaven to the best of our capacity. May we renew our covenants with Him with an earnest desire to become like Him I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

May I take the opportunity in behalf of the family of expressing to you their appreciation for your being here. I do know as I have talked to Brother and Sister Robbins and others that many of you have called and expressed your love and your kindness and sympathy, for these beautiful flowers and for all. For those who have participated in these services, in deed they are grateful to everyone. At the conclusion of this service, the interment will take place at the Provo Cemetery. The family and others who wish to go there may go and the dedication will take place by Dr. Burtis F. Robbins.





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