Please Don’t Make My Funeral All About Me!

In RemembranceFunerals seem to be where bad theology and human glorification are so often manifest. Here is a fantastic article from Nancy Guthrie for us to consider.

 

I just got home from another funeral. Seems we’ve gone to more than our share lately. And once again, as I left the church, I pled with those closest to me, “Please don’t make my funeral all about me.”

We were an hour and fifteen minutes in to today’s funeral before anyone read from the scriptures, and further in until there was a prayer. Resurrection wasn’t mentioned until the benediction. There were too many funny stories to tell about the deceased, too many recollections, too many good things to say about the things she accomplished to speak of what Christ has accomplished on her behalf.

But then this wasn’t a funeral. It was a “Celebration of Life.” In fact there was really little mention of death or of the ugly way sickness slowly robbed our friend of everything. Christ and his saving benefits could not be made much of because death and its cruelties were largely ignored.

When we sit a funeral, I suppose few of us can resist allowing our thoughts to wander to thinking about who might show up when we are the one in the casket. We can’t help but think about who will speak and what will be said. Of course when that day comes, especially if it comes unexpectedly, we’re not here to express what we hope our funeral will say about who we were, or, more importantly, whose we were.

So I have decided to write it down. When I die, you won’t have to wonder what I would have wanted. You’ll know. You’ll know that nothing would make me happier than for my funeral to be all about Christ instead of all about me. Please make it all about his righteous life and not my feeble efforts at good works. Make it about his coming to defeat death and not my courage (or lack thereof) in the face of death. Make it about his emergence from the grave with the keys to death and the grave, which changes everything about putting my body into a grave.

Sure, my name will come up. You can express gratitude that God chose me and drew me to himself. You can thank him for transforming me from a spiritually dead little girl into a spiritually alive and therefore indestructible co-heir with Christ. You can praise God for his mercy that is wide enough and his anger that is slow enough and his love that is steadfast enough for a repeat offender like me to be drawn into his good graces. You can honor God for being true to his promise to cause all things to work together for my good and thank him for allowing me to see some of that good in my lifetime. You can thank him for his Word that is living enough and active enough to pierce deep inside me, dividing joint and marrow, exposing my shallow beliefs and hidden motives, going to work in me to renew me and give me the mind of Christ.

You can shout at my funeral if you want to. Shout praise to the God who raised Christ from the dead, providing a preview of what will happen to my body because I am joined to Christ. You can mock the defeated desires of the Devil by shouting that neither life nor death can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord.

You can cry at my funeral if you want to. But don’t think for a minute that my death is tragic. No matter how it happens, no matter when; it simply can’t be a tragedy. Leaving this world with all of its sin-sickness to enter into the beauty and perfection and peace of the presence of Christ is something to anticipate, not avoid. Death, for me, will not be the second-best option to a longer life here. To be with Christ will not be a minor improvement on this life, but “far better” (Phil. 1:23). You can cry, but I hope your tears are, at least in part, tears of joy that I have entered into the joy of my Master.

While someone might sentimentally suggest that I am looking down on all that is happening or listening in to what is being said, don’t believe it. My faith will have become sight, and my eyes will be fixed on my beautiful Savior. I will have found my place among “the spirits of the righteous made perfect” (Heb. 12:23), and my spirit will not linger here.

What you must not do at my funeral is make it all about me. What I want most is that “Christ will be honored in [my] body, whether in life or in death” (Phil.1:20). Those gathered that day have no need for a sanitized, idealized rendition of who I was or what I accomplished. On that day, in fact on every day until that day, “he must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

I am not afraid to look the king of terrors in the face,
For I know I shall be drawn, not driven, out of the world.
Until then let me continually glow and burn out for thee,
And when the last great change shall come, let me awake in thy likeness.
— The Valley of Vision

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By lakeviewbc Posted in Death

Jesus Wept!

jesus-weptOn Saturday, I had the honor of conducting the graveside services of Brenda Bagwell’s mother, Otis James. Thanks to each in the church for all your encouragement to Brenda during this trying time.I appreciate Brenda’s love, faithfulness, and service to the Lord. She has been such a blessing to me and my family and the church. I am grateful that she would ask me to be apart of the service for her mother. Here is what I said:

John 11:35 is the shortest verse in the Bible. It is also, perhaps, the most profound verse and the most comforting verse the Bible as well.

The reason Jesus wept was because of the death of his friend Lazarus. Even though Jesus knew that in a matter of minutes that Lazarus was going to be alive again. He knew that in a matter of minutes Lazarus would walk again. He knew that in a matter of minutes Lazarus would be talking again. Yet, he wept.

I think the crowd was right that day. They noticed Jesus weeping and they said, “See how he loved him.” And Jesus did love Lazarus. He was a good friend and a dear spiritual brother. He loved him and he wept for him.

And we weep today. Some weep for their mother, others for their sister, others for their grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great grandmother. Still others weep for a friend. And the weeping, the grief, and the sorrow today is because of your love for her.

But I do want to remind you that there is coming a day when every tear will be wiped away. Death will be removed. Pain and suffering will be abolished. There is coming a day when casket makers and grave diggers and funeral homes will be out of business. There is coming a day when we will never again have to attend a service like this one.

There is coming a day when the earth that will cover the grave of Otis James will be moved and the casket that holds her body will be opened and this body, the very body we bury today, will hear the words of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords say, Otis, come forth. And this body will get up, it will be glorified by the power of God, it will be reunited with her soul and spirit and she will worship, praise, and serve her Savior in the new Jerusalem for all eternity.

And the reason we have this blessed hope is because of Jesus Christ. Jesus came and he suffered, he bled, and he died a sacrificial death for us. In doing so, he took upon himself our sins and our guilt and our punishment. And he died so that we could live.

And three days after his death on the cross, he arose, becoming the first fruits of all those who will rise from the dead as well. Because they have trusted and put their faith in the work of Christ for their salvation.

And as the song says, What a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see. When I look upon his face, the one who saved me by his grace. What a day, what a day, that will be.

Lord, we come to you in difficult circumstances. But we know that you understand how we feel today for you have not only dealt with the death of a loved one but you have experienced death as well. So you fully know the sorrow of each heart today. And you know how to help. In your death, O’Lord, you have brought the death to death for your people.

And my prayer is that you would extend your grace and mercy and that you would comfort and encourage those here today as you delight in the presence of Mrs. James today.

May each of us know that our only hope is in Christ so that when we must face our deaths, all will be well with our souls.

We praise you today! We exalt you today! And we rest our heavy hearts in your loving hands.

In the name of Jesus Christ, the name above all names, I pray. Amen!

By lakeviewbc Posted in Death