A Good Funeral, Part 2

By Elizabeth Prata

A Good Funeral, Part 1

I went to a funeral last weekend.

There’s something different about a Christian funeral.

Backing up some, growing up, our family’s business was Funeral Homes. My great-grandfather, grandfather, and father were funeral directors. They guided the grieving families through the process of giving over the body, preparing the body, planning the funeral, and the burial. They were involved in embalming, casket selection, flowers, music, location, and interment.

They knew all about the process of dying. They were intimately involved in the showpiece theater of the send off. They recognized the gravity of the graveside service. However, it was at that point that all their knowledge stopped. They did not know what happens after the last clump of dirt was thrown on the plot, the last guest departed the cemetery. When all was said and done, they didn’t know what happened after death. That was a terrifying, black, unknowable void of which they could not comprehend.

How can a person give encouragement, hope, or even momentary advice to a grieving family member when the knowledge of Jesus and His plan is absent from their mind and life? They can’t. One can only offer secular quotes, whose impact falls flat as soon as the words are out and fall thudding to the floor. One can only pat the person’s shoulder and mindlessly repeat, without conviction, “They are in a better place now,'” or, “He didn’t suffer.” Eyes skitter away from the grieving person the moment one utters those platitudes, because one knows that the words are are useless.

How can a person salve the vacuum left behind when a person who was in your life a moment ago, has now left it? How can one deal with the fact that their leaving has pulled all ties to you with them and even now, mere days later, those ties are just fading gossamer threads in an ever-dimming memory of what their face actually looked like? They have gone to that place where they are now, wherever that is or whatever that is like. Or even more hopelessly as some believe, their body, once alive with laughter and love, is now simply and only a husk to be buried in the ground and to decompose ignominiously along with grass and leaves and dirt.

Is this all there is?

No.

There is something different about a Christian funeral.

There is grief, yes. There are tears, and sadness and pats on the shoulder. There is standing at attention when the casket is rolled down the aisle, and the body, now devoid of movement and life, is just a shrunken husk with makeup. But the body was only a temporary cloak. The life and laughter of that dead person is ongoing, it is simply happening in a different location. The life and laughter of the people solemnly standing at attention will someday resume with that person, who is not dead, but alive!

O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)

Jesus was in glory and He left glory to live in a fleshly cloak on earth., he did it because His Father God needed a sacrifice. Jesus was to live a perfect life in holiness and righteousness, be accused without cause, die in humiliation on the cross, and absorb all God’s wrath for elect sinners. He was buried and lay in the tomb for three days.

Pleased with His Son, God raised Jesus from the dead! Death is conquered!

Satan Does Not Hold the Keys to Death 

Above all suffering and death stands the crucified and risen Lord. He has defeated the ultimate enemy of life. He has vanquished the power of death. He calls us to die, a call to obedience in the final transition of life. Because of Christ, death is not final. It is a passage from one world to the next. Ligonier Ministry

Grieving friends and family of the departed one do feel sad but ultimately, we have hope, we do not fear, and we enjoy peace. Jesus gave us that hope of seeing them again, because He conquered death and invites us, His children, to participate in eternal life with Him. We need not fear death because we know it has lost its sting.

As the preacher said at the funeral, if a bee stings you it loses its stinger, and you can now put that little bee in the hand of even an infant and it will not harm the babe, only tickle his palm or land sweetly on his nose.*


And which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, (2 Timothy 1:10)

We have peace because we are in Him, never to be forsaken or separated. If our loved one is also in Him we will reunite with them.

There is something different about a Christian funeral.

The difference is the mighty and glorious Jesus.

——————————————————

*Only honeybees die after they sting. Other species continue to live after they use their stinger

3 Comments

  1. Thank you for the bee simile.
    I struggle with peace concerning my parents who, although they recognized the change in me since accepting Jesus as Savior and my years of attempts to show and explain God’s plan to them, did not accept Him to my knowledge.
    It is true that peace with physical death is rooted in the promise of salvation. Losing those we love means missing them until our last breath. That can never be quelled until we actually see the promise and, hopefully, them, as well.

    Like

    1. I agree, the hope that is within us is just that, within believers. The funerals of non-believers are mournful to the extreme. My own father to my knowledge never repented, but since he declined to have a funeral and went direct to cremation before anyone even knew of his passing, I was spared the difficulty in gazing at a casket of a man who was likely experiencing punishment and not joy. Like you, I persevere in hope that in his last moments the seeds planted over his long life would bear fruit and I’ll see him on THIS shore and not THAT one.

      Liked by 1 person

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