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It's OK to cry -- Memorial Auditorium packed for teen murder victim's funeral

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Services were delayed 20 minutes while mourners crowded into Memorial Auditorium for this morning's funeral services for 14-year-old Kailee Clapp.
(Dawn Cribbs/McCook Daily Gazette)
It's OK to ask why.

It's OK to cry.

And it's OK to hope.

This was the thrust of the message delivered today by the Rev. Bruce Lester, at the memorial service for 14-year-old Kailee Clapp, while across town, 18-year-old Stathis Sebastian Mobley Kirkpatrick was charged with her murder.

The service was delayed for more than 20 minutes in order to allow every one to find a seat in the filled-to-capacity auditorium.

(Audio of the service is available here.)

"There is no way to spin the circumstances of Kailee's death," Lester admitted. And the questions it prompts do not have any easy answers.

"What we can know is that somehow, someway, someday, God can and God will, through this unspeakable tragedy, work good in all of our lives. Someday."

Photo montages of Kailee's life, set to music, gave mourners glimpses of a girl who loved to dance, loved to sing, "loved to run around in her pjs, singing and dancing."A handful of friends and Kailee's sister Karen spoke about the hugs they will miss, the memories they will cherish and the love they will always have for "my best friend."

"She had an ornery streak," Lester shared with a smile. " And every once in a while her little horns would pop up. But they didn't stay out long."

"This is why you're here today," said Lester. "because of this special young lady. Because she has touched all of our lives."

Death is part of the human experience, Lester said, and "Jesus talked about death a lot." He didn't hide from it, but acknowledged the power of the pain that death, at whatever age, brings. Death causes humans to ask a lot of questions, to question even what they understand about God. "Where was God on Thursday night?" Lester asked. "Why do bad things happen to good people, to young people? Why did it happen to Kailee?"

"Why?" is the most natural question humans can ask, according to Lester. Created in the image of God, we think, we reason, we create, we explore and we, unique among all of God's creation, have been given the ability to choose.

"God wanted us to choose to love; him and one another," Lester said. And so we choose. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Sometimes right, sometimes wrong.

"We live in the consequences of our choices, and the choices that others make," Lester continued.

Ask the questions, he said. God can handle the questions. But while you're asking, while you're waiting for an answer remember the story of hope in John Chapter 11.

Lazarus, like Kailee, had a lot of friends. And Jesus was one of them. Lazarus became deathly ill and his sisters, Mary and Martha, sent for Jesus, saying, "the one you love is ill." Yet, even though Jesus was only a day away, he delayed his departure and arrived in Bethany only after Lazarus had been dead four days.

Not surprisingly, the sisters had some hard questions for the Lord, each stating in her own words, "If you had been here, my brother would not have died."

It sounds accusatory, as if it was Jesus' fault that Lazarus died, said Lester. "And you may be wondering the same thing today about Kailee's death."

Jesus didn't condemn the women for asking the question, for wrestling with what they knew of Jesus, his power to heal and to save, but he answers them with his next action. "He wept."

For some reason God chose not to intervene then or on Thursday night. God knows pain, he knows what it's like to lose a child. Lester assured those gathered, "he wants to walk with you, he wants walks with all of us. Remember his promise, 'I am the resurrection and the life.'"

We have a skewed vision of reality, Lester warned. We think this is the land of the living and when we die, we enter the land of the dead.

"It's reversed," he said. "This world is all about dying and entering into life eternal."

"Jesus loved children," Lester said, sharing the passage in Mark when he calls the children to himself and blesses them. "And Jesus loves Kailee."

Lester shared the joy that Kailee shared with her mother, Nora, two years ago, when she came home from youth group.

Quoting Kailee, Lester said, "Mom, I know that when I die, I'm going to heaven!"

She knew that, he explained, because she had just made the most important decision anyone can ever make.

Kailee knew the promise of Jesus. The promise he gave in the 14th chapter of John. "I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am there you also will be."

Lester offered everyone the opportunity to make that "most important decision" and closed, thanking God for his presence, for the peace that only he can give and for the promise that only he can fulfill.

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It appears that Rev. Lester gave a beautiful message today in light of the tragic circumstances. May you all remember the special blessings that Kailee brought into your life here on earth and look forward to spending eternal life with her in heaven. My prayers continue to go out for Kailee's family and friends.

-- Posted by cowgirl91 on Thu, Jan 27, 2011, at 2:58 PM

Pastor Bruce did a wonderful job delivering his message to those gathered. I'm sure many of those questions of "why" may never be answered. The best we can hope for now is that our justice system will put those who are responsible in a place where he (or they) can harm no one else again.

Thank you, Gazette staff, for doing a super job reporting this tragedy so quickly and helping to replace rumors with facts! Great work by the reporters!

-- Posted by Willie B Wright on Thu, Jan 27, 2011, at 3:04 PM

I am soooo sorry to hear about this! I don't know the young lady nor her family but my heart goes out to all the family and friend of her!!! It does sound like the pastor did a good job delivering the message!!! I hope justice comes thru for Kailee and her family & friends. May God Bless you all!!

-- Posted by sdf1966 on Thu, Jan 27, 2011, at 3:47 PM

My heart and prayers go out to Kailee's family. So sad. The question "why?" keeps coming-up although there is no sufficient answer.

-- Posted by FarmerJoe on Thu, Jan 27, 2011, at 6:45 PM

We need not fear that Justice be done,

For Justice is done, for every one.

Kailee knew her heart, better than most her age,

So we need not worry as she steps on Christ's Center Stage.

Those who did love her, must cry for a while,

But knowing she's with Jesus, soon surrenders to smile.

Kailee is with Jesus, His strong arms heal her pain,

Pours blessing out over her, just like rain.

Never again, will a tear leave her eye,

From what I know, Kailee now knows how to fly.

Mourn not for Kailee, but the death perpetrator,

Who's lost soul at this time needs God's incubator.

My family loved her, with adoptive attitude,

So deep in my heart she has great altitude.

To Kailee, Aloha, we say fond Good-by,

Till we meet again, at God's home in the sky.


From the Steinhour family

-- Posted by Navyblue on Thu, Jan 27, 2011, at 8:52 PM

May the Lord Jesus comfort your family in this time of grief.

-- Posted by slnelson on Fri, Jan 28, 2011, at 12:32 PM

The service and the message that was held for a precious member or your family and surrounding community sounds like it was very good. I did not know the young lady or her family and friends, but was saddened to hear about it. None of us ever expect something this tragic to happen in our part of Nebraska. Our thoughts and prayers go out to each and every one of you that is suffering such a great loss. May somehow you find the strength and inner peace to keep Kailee's memory within your hearts.

-- Posted by Bullwinkle78 on Sat, Jan 29, 2011, at 11:35 AM

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