I love a good funeral…

I played the piano this morning for a funeral at church. Dolores H., an apparently VERY old lady whom I had never met, but who had attended our church for years and years, had finally slipped the surly bonds, as it were, and there was only me to play for the commemoration. Dolores’ kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, and even one great GREAT grandkid were all there, along with various and sundry nephews, nieces and a few straggling friends from other churches. The soloist, whose name was Richard, was there because he was great friends with Dolores’ kids, and had a pretty nice voice, considering he was nervous and hadn’t sung in public for 30 years.

I played hymns for half an hour before the service started, while people filed in and stood before the open casket, gazing at Dolores, who lay in the serene stillness of NoLongerInThere. A few of the grandkids sniffled. Her kids were relaxed and smiling. It was clear from start to finish that “Ma H.” was in heaven, no questions.

Pastor George–about whom I’ve already written, on account of my husband wanting to be like him when he grows up–gave the message, which was his usual message. It was a long rambly stroll through most of the Bible, because when George begins to preach, he just can’t help bringing in just one more verse (which he nearly always has by memory) because he loves these words so much. And he can’t help extolling the praises of Jesus, who is JUST SO GOOD!!! And then he thinks of this or that wonderful old hymn, and simply must quote a verse, because it so beautifully conveys just what he’s talking about. And the main point was, Dolores is in heaven, thank you Jesus, and she was there simply because our good God made a way through Jesus’ broken body for Dolores to come to Him, and indeed for any of the rest of us who will trust Him.

Throughout the entire message, it was obvious that not only had Dolores believed what Pastor George was preaching, but she had taught her children and grandchildren to believe also. There were tears shed, but there was no collapse, no despair, no lostness. I went to another funeral this past year, one for a lady whose eternal status is questionable. And her children and grandchildren and friends are mostly unbelievers. The despair and uncertainty at that funeral were palpable. Not so for Dolores. Her rest is sure.

I think back to the funerals of my own grandparents and Kirk’s grandmother, and am grateful that those were the kind of funerals you love to go to. Tears were shed, certainly, but only for ourselves–for missing our loved ones. Not for them–there was joy for them. A certainty of their joy and life. There were words of remembering, things we loved about them, funny stories, and more than anything, gratitude. We were grateful that God had shown His favor to our family, that our grandparents were most assuredly alive with Him, that they had proven faithful, that they had proven HIM faithful. All of that.

So I love a good funeral, the kind where there are no regrets and no emptiness. The kind that is a celebration of homecoming. Precious in the Lord’s eyes are the deaths of His saints. Amen.

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