January 16th, 2016| Topic: RaMbLeS | 0


We’ve all heard of “destination weddings.” Now there is another eclectic ritual on the scene: “destination funerals.” Held not in churches or such places, but in gardens, sports arenas, lakes, the beach, on sea, etc. No more the traditional hearse. We now have buses, and even motorbikes. Congregants are also being encouraged to abandon the traditional attire of black or other somber color. Soccer shirts and fancy dress attire are in vogue now.

Said Sam Kershaw, operations director for Co-operative Funeralcare in the U.K.:

What we’re seeing is a culture shift in the way that we deal with loss. It’s becoming ever more common to hear people refer to funerals as a celebration of life.”

You can even get a “funeral cake” to “celebrate”!

The story is told of Pope John XXIII who was approaching the end of his life. The Pope’s personal physician who was summoned said to the pontiff, “You’ve asked me many times to tell who when the end was near so you could prepare. Well, Holy Father, it is time.”

The Pope’s secretary collapsed weeping. The pope only smiled. He reached out and touched his secretary on the head and said:

Courage, my son. I am ready. I am a bishop, and I must die as a bishop, with simplicity and with majesty, and you must help me. Go get the people together.”

“With simplicity!” We do not need any ostentation or ornamentation on the ceremonies of death.

Declared Thomas Long, an authority on the Christian funeral and a preaching prof at Emory University in Atlanta:

One of the corruptions in the American way of death is an attempt to encrust our rituals with a sense of status that they neither need nor deserve. Whenever you begin to encrust or place ornaments on basic liturgical rituals, it is a good sign that they have eroded from the inside.”

Long sees this happening also in marriage which, in its simplicity, is a man and a woman making promises to each other and, in turn, the community promising to support the couple, all parties doing so in the presence of God who himself faithfully keeps his promises to his children.

There’s nothing wrong with unity candles. There’s nothing wrong with turtledoves. There’s nothing wrong with bridesmaids’ dresses or groomsmen’s tuxedos. There’s nothing wrong, but when you begin to glom ornamentation on to the simplicity of a ritual, such that the contours of that simplicity are obscured, it is a sign that something is rotten at the heart of the ritual itself.”

And “with majesty.” Not the majesty of ornate coffins, and soaring cathedrals, regal vestments, and grand choirs. But “with majesty” because each Christian belongs to …

… a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession,
so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him.
1 Peter 2:9

“With majesty”—to glorify God! Because we are children of the heavenly regent, every Christian deserves a royal funeral, one that magnifies the King of the universe.

Instead, in our funerals, we celebrate our eccentricities and our whims, things that make us different and unique. So all of us who were never celebrities get to be one … on the day of our funerals.

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again,
even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 4:14

That’s the message of the funeral. The Gospel. Christ died and rose again. And those who believe in him as their only God and Savior will do so too. Praise God!

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