Good Morning Brothers and Sisters…
In the last 7 days, I have officiated a funeral and walked my daughter down the aisle. Funerals and weddings are not typically events that I look forward to, however, I love them both. Both events have a physical reality and a spiritual reality. Obviously, any event, or thing, we can physically do that thins the veil between those two worlds a little bit is a good thing. The reverence shown to God at funerals and weddings becomes the sticking point for me…and the clothes. I think we often show God more reverence at the funeral and not enough at the wedding. The clothes, suits, ties, white shirts, have always been a problem for me. Not that they offend me, only that they don’t fit me. I am built like a wood stove with a bad leg, suits don’t wrap around this body very well.
I enjoy the funerals that are honest. I enjoy the families that are willing to celebrate the life of a loved one and not try to employ some kind of ‘cover-up’ in the process. If the guy died of lung cancer because he smoked 2 packs of Marlboro a day, don’t blow smoke at the funeral, admit the guys lifestyle contributed to his death and move on. No shame in that. If the deceased was a Sunday School teacher for 52 years then their life spent serving should be celebrated. Whoever they were, is however they will be remembered. I also enjoy the funerals that are emotional. In a society where emotions are typically concealed, it is healthy to cry hard, laugh hard, sing hard, hug hard…it helps us express the love contained within. I don’t enjoy the funerals that become a trial. I do not feel like funerals are the place to put a life on trial and execute some kind of spiritual judgement. At the end of the day, God alone is judge and we are not. God alone knows the heart of a man and he/she will be judged by the most qualified, the most loving, the most compassionate, and the most ‘just’ Judge to ever sit the bench.
I enjoy the weddings that come before the alter of God and say, “I promise.” Marriage between a man and a woman is the closet thing on earth to the union of the Church and Jesus. When a woman says, “I do” and a man says, “I do” they are really saying “I am the other.” I can’t help but think that more reverence at the weddings will make for more ‘victory’ stories at the funerals. At times, weddings can become a means to glorify self. A platform for promotion and portrait opportunities.
Both funerals and weddings are ceremonies celebrating life and death…and life again. A wedding celebrates the life of two individuals, their death of self, and then unites them into a life of each other through the grace of God. A funeral celebrates the life of the deceased, their physical death, and then their spiritual life that continues beyond the veil of this physical world. Now obviously, because of sin and selfishness, this isn’t always the case. It is a sad thing to see this intended order to get out of whack. When we accept Christ as Lord and Savior, we are accepting the terms of the ‘new covenant’. We are accepting the blood of Jesus (for the forgiveness of sins) and we are accepting the body of Jesus (to carry out His mission). We are accepting the pecking order of slave and Master. We are accepting our marching orders to serve the Kingdom and to walk the path God intends for us to walk. In short, we are accepting life.
As I sit here thinking about the past 7 days, I can’t help but think that ‘life’ is so much fuller, richer, lovelier, when we live ‘life’ full of God and in deference to His wishes. The most important thing we can do at a funeral is give God the honor of receiving the dead. At a wedding, the same is true. We give God the honor of receiving the dead, so that the new life of union becomes touched with grace. In all things, we should give God the honor of receiving…us. May the God of heaven fully bless and enrich all of you with life…His life.