Last night I went to the funeral of one of our church's long-time members. She was much, much older, and in failing health, so in some sense, her death wasn't a surprise.
But for me, death is always sort of a surprise. And I often have the same response: "Does it really all boil down to THIS???!!!"
I know that our lives are just a breath of wind. We're grass--we're here, and then we're gone. Some large part of me protests.
That protest makes sense, I think. It's part of the loving of this exquisite world, God's good creation. Even if we're convinced we're headed towards something better, why would we want to leave this beautiful place?
One of the functions of a funeral is to remind us all that yes, it really does come down to this, a body left behind, a group gathering to grieve. It's good to remember that we're here for such a very short time--and so much of what we think is vital and important really is not.
We wept our tears for our loss. Again, I thought about my feelings that death and disease are a design flaw of creation.
I don't really feel that way, do I? After all, without death and disease, we'd have a much more crowded planet. And it's already plenty crowded.
Last night's funeral did more to celebrate a life than to paint a rosy picture of Heaven. I liked the emphasis on a life well lived, instead of a life yet to come.
I feel somewhat guilty for feeling that way. I'm a Christian. Shouldn't I have my sights set on Heaven?
Long time readers of this blog know that I don't focus on Heaven. I believe that Christ came to call us to Kingdom living right here and now. The good news is that we don't have to wait for death to call us home. We can start the transformation now.
Because the church member had lived so long, she didn't have many friends and family outside of the church. Her daughter reminded us that when her mother was at church, she was truly home. That note rang true to me.
It was so good to gather as a that community. I was struck by how many church members I saw last night, members who I usually don't see because we're going to different services. It was a reunion in all sorts of ways--as we gathered to celebrate the larger reunion.
Our pastor described the deceased as half Ethel Merman, half John the Baptist--if they had both been born in Russia. It was the perfect description.
He also reminded us of how enthusiastic she had been about church. She invited everyone to come to her church--and some have become members.
That was not her only contribution, of course. It was good to be together, to recall all of her wonderful ways that she made our church more like our home.
In short, it was a good funeral. When church as an institution works well, it's this marking of life's passages that it does particularly well.
feeling the feelings…
6 months ago