This past Saturday, I spoke at a funeral for a 54 year old woman from our church who died of pulmonary fibrosis. She was a school teacher in the China Spring school district. She and her family had been a part of the Crestview church family for a number of years. She taught Sunday School for years. First grade. Long after others had burned out and quit, she continued year after year to teach these children.
I have always felt like it was a great privilege to speak at someone’s funeral. It is a very tender moment for the family. Very tender. Most of the time, they are coming from a variety of places to bury their mother, dad, grandparents etc. Very often they have not been together recently, or even in a long time. They come back home and it often is very emotional and at times, even life changing for them. Life is pretty messy. Coming back home can mean dealing with memories that are good and not so good. That kind of varies from family to family.
If possible, I will often meet with members of the immediate family. This is a time where I hear stories about the husband or wife, the father or mother who has just died. I will ask the family about some of their best memories. I will ask them to describe this person. I will ask them to tell me the story of this person. This helps me to tell the story of this person at the funeral in a way that this family will appreciate.
Maybe one reason why a funeral is a special moment is because I know that the family is trusting me with something very, very important to them. They are trusting me to handle this in a way that is appropriate and in some sense, the way they would like to handle it if they were in my place. This is also a special moment, because at the funeral of a Christian, I need to put this person’s death in the context of the Gospel. The death, burial, and Resurrection of Jesus has given new meaning to death and to this person’s death in particular.
On Saturday, I arrived at the church later than I would like to for a funeral. It had already been a full day. That morning, Jamie had graduated from high school. It was a wonderful moment (full of mixed emotions). My parents were here as well as my mother-in-law, and my sister-in-law and her husband. Good friends from Ft. Worth drove here for the graduation. We had lunch for all of these people and more at our house. After lunch, I left for the funeral.
A short time later, after the funeral, I sat in my car waiting to drive in the funeral procession to the cemetery. I thought about how emotional the day had been. From graduation in the morning, to the funeral of a very sweet and kind lady that afternoon.
I’ve never understood how anyone could disengage emotionally from a funeral. I’ve never understood how anyone could not connect emotionally with people who are brokenhearted over a special person in their lives who has died.
When I am able to do that–I think that I had better quit.