I’m curious, what do you think about funerals? More specifically, what do you expect at the funeral of a Christian?
One thing for sure. You never quite know what you might see at a funeral. I did a funeral one evening for a man who had experienced a tragic, sudden death. The family decided that the funeral would actually be a memorial service. Unfortunately, the family was squabbling and making accusations toward one another. For some reason, there was no music, no one else leading the funeral. Just myself and the funeral home director. That evening, the church building began to fill. A police officer was keeping an eye on two of the families. I could just feel the tension. Finally, it appeared that most of the people were seated. I was just about to go to the microphone when two family members came in (somehow connected to this man’s family). They were some of the most vocal toward another side of the family. The two family members were sisters, identical twins in their late 50s. Both of them were wearing identical pantsuits. They looked furious! They walked slowly from the back of the auditorium, down the middle aisle. I remember wondering if they were going to make a scene. Finally, they reached the second row from the front where the rest of the family was sitting and they sat down as well. You never know what is going to happen.
I have been to many, many funerals. At this point in my life, I can say that I have even spoken at many, many funerals. Sometimes these funerals take place in funeral homes. Sometimes they are at church buildings. Sometimes these funerals are for people who are Christians. On other occasions these funerals are for people who did not embrace the Christian faith.
I am wondering what you think is important and appropriate for a minister to say at the funeral of a Christian.
I have heard many ministers speak at funerals. Some are very personal (regarding the deceased) and some are very impersonal. Some seem to speak personally to the family (during the funeral) and others almost seem to ignore the family. I have heard some ministers preach sermons in the funeral with no remarks regarding the deceased. I have heard other ministers reflect on the deceased with only a passing reference to Jesus or Scripture. Many speak of heaven at such funerals.
Some years ago, I decided that I would speak of the Cross/resurrection of Jesus in some fashion in every Christian funeral I preach. I think that most people at funerals where I am speaking would say that I am "personal" in what I say regarding the deceased (especially if I know them well). I try to be personal as I address the family as well. However, at some point, I think it important that the Cross/resurrection be proclaimed in some fashion.
I’m curious. What do YOU think is appropriate? What have you observed in recent funerals?