Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Funeral So Close to Christmas

A week ago, we had my grandmother's funeral and burial.  In many ways, it was a funeral service both beautiful and strange.

The church was still decorated for Christmas, complete with lights and candles.  I found it oddly comforting, even while it made me feel a bit disjointed.

My grandmother died on Dec. 28, the day after her 97th birthday.   Our Gospel reading was the reading for last Sunday, Luke 2:22-40, with the faithfulness of Anna and Simeon. I thought it was a strange choice for a funeral reading, but the pastor made it come together surprisingly well.

The pastor's homily focused on her near-Christmas birthday, her near-Christmas death, and the meanings of Christmas.  It focused on being a servant in the tradition of Christ.  The pastor talked about faithfulness and living a long life in faith, as Anna and Simeon did.  The meditation worked surprisingly well.

We ended the service with "Joy to the World," one of my favorite Christmas hymns, that I haven't sung at all this season.  Again, a surprising choice, but it worked.

Oh, we sang more traditional funeral hymns.  My grandfather's favorite hymn was "Children of the Heavenly Father"; we sang it his funeral, and we sang it at my grandmother's too.  That song makes me weep even when we're not at a funeral.  Would it make me weep if I didn't associate it with funerals?

I find it comforting even as I'm weeping.

We read the passage from Romans (8:31-39) which assures us that nothing can separate us from the love of the Almighty.  We read Psalm 23.

In all, the funeral did what funerals need to do.  It celebrated the life of my grandmother.  It reassured those of us still living that death will not have the final answer.  It comforted those of us gathered together to grieve a loss.  It reminded us that we are still alive, with important work left to do.

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