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.