On Funerals

People tend to think I have a sad job, and that somehow performing funerals is the worst part of my job.  The truth is that having done my share of funerals and weddings, I much prefer funerals.

First, the guests at funerals typically aren’t drunk when they arrive.

Second, the guests at funerals typically aren’t thinking of drinking during the service.  I’m sure some are, and honestly so have I, but at least it doesn’t show quite as much.

Third, people at funerals will listen to you as a minister.  I’ve performed weddings where it was clear that I was an add-on.  People give more consideration to the napkins than to the minister or the sermon when planning a wedding.  But at a funeral, people tend to listen.  People are hurt and when they’re hurt they’re open to what you have to say.  So what do you say at a funeral?

Sometimes it’s hard to write a message for a funeral, and sometimes it isn’t.  I always try to point to Jesus though.  There’s no real point in my glorifying a person at a funeral, and I’m not always comfortable even saying that this person is in heaven when I may not have known them for more than a week.

The point of the funeral message is to point to Christ.  Anything else is usually disingenuous.  Worse, you may have missed the opportunity to be an agent of grace in someone’s life.  I obviously don’t do an altar call (or casket call for that matter), but there is no better time to share God’s love than when someone is mourning.  Even the strongest Christian needs to hear God’s grace when a loved one dies, not how nice a person the deceased is.

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