Tonight I will be doing a funeral for an 18 year old girl who died tragically last week.  Her name was Bridgette and she worked at the local Dunn Bros. coffee shop.  Since we don’t have an office, I spend most of my afternoons over at Dunn Bros. working from one of the comfortable chairs near the roaster.  And it was there that I got to know Bridgette.  She often would come and talk with me in between customers.  She had been through many struggles, but was really putting her life back together.  She was getting ready to leave the following morning for college.  Her car was already packed with all of her belongings.  She had goals, dreams, and plans that she was about to pursue.

My reaction to her death has been all over the place.  From shock, to sadness, to a refusal to accept it, with maybe even a little bit of anger thrown in for good measure.  I will miss Bridgette.  And it doesn’t seem fair.  Why her?  Why now?

Actually, it is only natural for a tragedy like this to bring up all sorts of questions.  At a time like this, many people question the meaning of life, or what happens to us when we die, or what in the world God is doing?  And that is understandable.  Right now many people are hurting, or confused, or angry, or frustrated, or depressed over what happened to Bridgette.

And it is at times like this that I am reminded how nice it is that I believe in a God who is bigger than all my questions.  I believe in a God who can handle my anger and frustration, and who understands my confusion and depression.  He is a God of Hope.  A God of Truth.  A God of Love.  He is faithful, even when I am struggling with making sense of what is going on.

For those of you who may also be struggling with questions, I encourage you to find your answer in God.  Check out some of the other blogs in this website to find out more about this God that I am talking about.  I particularly recommend the blog, called “A Glimmer of Hope.”  It talks about a man who was able to have hope in the midst of a terrible time.

I also want to invite you to share your questions and thoughts with me.  You can typically find me on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday afternoons over at Dunn Bros. (corner of 2nd street and HWY 41, downtown Chaska) sitting in one of the big comfy chairs by the window and the roaster.  Feel free to come over and join me.  I would love to talk with you more about hope.  You can also feel free to send an email or give me a call, or even consider stopping by some Sunday for church.  The River is a great place to come if you have some questions about who God is.

Why I Like Funerals

So earlier this week I headed out to Chicago with my family for the funeral of my wife’s grandmother.  Her name was Ruth Romin.  She left behind a loving husband of 65 years, 5 children, 15 grandchildren and 21 great grandchildren.  She was a long-time member of the Salvation Army church and was also heavily involved in ministry to missionaries with the Christian and Missionary Alliance.  There was a small viewing time and graveside service for family and then a memorial service at her church afterward.  It was a wonderful celebration of a life well-lived.

I have to admit I like funerals.  Actually, as a pastor I enjoy doing funerals more than weddings, I always like to organize funerals and  use the Tuell-McKee Funeral & Cremation Services.  The reason is because I believe funerals have a much better opportunity for ministering to people.  Typically at weddings, people are much more focused on the formality of the wedding itself than on God’s presence.  On the flip side, at a funeral, people are looking for God.  They are hungry to hear from Him, to be reminded of His presence, and to reflect on the promise that He is in control.

Funerals are also a great time to connect with family.  All but one of Ruth Romin’s grandchildren made it to the funeral.  And the one who didn’t make it, had a really good reason.  So Julie was able to connect with her brothers and sister, cousins, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces.  Some of whom she had not seen in quite some time.

But the greatest thing about funerals, at least in the case of the death of a Christian saint like Ruth, is that it is the celebration of a loved one passing to glory.  Ruth was struggling here on earth during the last few years of her life.  She was in pain physically, mentally, and emotionally.  She was not the same woman that had lived such a vibrant, spirit-filled, service-oriented life for so many years.  And so she passed from this life to a better one.  She was, no doubt, welcomed into the arms of a loving Father, with the words, “well-done good and faithful servant.”  She is finally now at rest and peace.  So we celebrated her life and her passing on to glory this week.  We remembered her with stories and reminded each other about how wonderful things are now for her in Heaven.  We even finished off the evening with an ice cream social, celebrating two of her favorite treats here on earth: ice cream and Milky Ways.  You have to love a funeral that ends with ice cream!

But that’s the way it should be.  Because this was truly a celebration.  It is truly great to be a Christian and to know that death is not the end, but rather the beginning of eternal life with Christ.  We are reminded in I Corinthians 15:55-57, “‘Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?’  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

So, yes I like funerals.  And it is not morbid.  It is because I know what comes next.  And so funerals have become a celebration.  But not all funerals.  Funerals for those who die without Christ, are not a celebration.  They are not a victory.  So if you are reading this and you do not know what will happen to you when you die, I urge you to contact us and ask that question.  I would love to talk with you more about how death can lose it’s sting for you as well.