JoAnn Marie Titus was a resident of Jemez Springs, NM, a small town about an hour’s drive north and west of Albuquerque. The area’s natural hot springs are a blessing to those who seek out the healing waters.
JoAnn was a member of the Jemez Mountain Baptist Church in La Cueva. She died at the age of 51 after a lengthy illness. At her funeral, Pastor Eric Larson recited numerous Gospel passages, including Revelation Chapter 21, Corinthians I, and a story about the Samaritan woman at the well from John Chapter 4.
Pastor Larson drew a connection between the Gospels and the waters of eternal life. How appropriate for a woman who lived near the healing waters in Jemez Springs.
Revelation 21: Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard thunder from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.”
In the story from John Chapter 4, Jesus has come to the well of Jacob at noon, a time when not many people are out in the heat of day. Samaritans in that time were often shunned and judged, so the woman was coming at an off time so she wouldn’t be seen. A few NIV passages:
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
Pastor Larson pointed out, “When we think of the world and the worldly things of necessity such as new cars and dresses, these things become old and tattered. Jesus was talking about a different water – eternal life, not dependent on worldly things here today and gone tomorrow. Jesus gave her the promise of eternal life.”
“JoAnn knew of the promises and the water. Each of us have to ask ourselves where the spring is in our life. Is it of the world or of the spirit?”
“Lord, thank you for JoAnn and for being with us this day. Help us remember the beautiful person she was. She brightened every room she entered.”
There was a pause for meditation to the song There is Nothing Greater Than Grace. The pastor invited attendees to come up and share comments and stories about JoAnn.
She was remembered as a good writer who helped others with their struggles in English class. Her life was not easy, yet she stayed soft and giving. In spite of life’s hardness and unfairness, she never became hard, bitter, angry or mean. She was a good listener and remembered what was said. She was always encouraging to her nephew, and she greatly loved her husband and dogs.
The pastor recited some passages from Thessalonians 1, on still being alive though there are those who have fallen asleep and on encouraging each other. His final prayer:
“Father, thank you for JoAnn, for sharing her with us, that her memory not be forgotten. Remember the promises and the truths she gave us. Take a moment to pray for the family and for her husband Louis. We thank you for receiving her into your loving arms.”
The casket, which had been open during a visitation prior to the funeral and closed during the service, was opened again for one last look. Her body was cremated after the funeral. Attendees were invited to continue visiting at a private home reception.
May JoAnn Marie Titus swim joyfully in eternal waters.