Monday, July 28, 2008

Who To Be at Your Funeral

Here's a great post by semi-regular commenter "-C" at her blog Transposzing.

"He Spent His Whole Life Preparing for this Day"

That's what she said.

Was she a wife talking about her husband on the day he won the Tour de France?

Was she a mother, talking about her son as he was about to begin his debut performance at Carnegie Hall?

Actually, she was a daughter talking about her father at his funeral.

Now I am not generally much of an appreciator of the comments or shared memories of family and friends of the deceased which are made during a funeral service. There are alot of reasons I don't care much for it, some of which are theological, some practical, and yet other reasons are nothing but a matter of personal preference.

But that being said, I attended the funeral of a man from our church a couple of weeks ago, a brother in Christ who was a faithful member of our parish community. His wife died only a few short months ago. Near the end of the service, his children were invited forward to speak and I sat back and sighed and prepared to start counting the little mosaic tiles on the iconostasis. But his daughter's first statement brought me back to attention.

"He spent his whole life preparing for this day," she said.

How profound those few words are. How much they say about what our earthly life is to be ... a preparation for our death. And how different this is from what the world says our life is to be (something measurable at the end by our accomplishsments, by how much wealth and stuff we have accumulated, by how well our name is known, by the "legacy" we have left).

I have thought about this statement of hers a hundred times since that day. It's the most significant comment from a loved one I have ever heard at a funeral.

I hope I never forget it.


  1. Mike Baker said...

    A fitting post! I have been thinking about this topic over the last several days.

    My profession forces me to view life this way. I consider it a tremendous blessing. As a Soldier, the reminder of death is always in the back of my mind. I am a member of the local funeral honor guard that performs military honors. I suppose that I encounter the reality of death more often than most people.

    Faith causes me to look forward to this day with patient expectation rather than fear or regret. Mediating on my own death each day causes me to live in the moment. I have started to see the temporary things of this life in their proper perspective. What exists in this life that is worth forestalling a blessed heavenly reunion? When one sees that this life is transitory and that these struggles will be at an end, he starts to look forward to that day the day when he will be separated from the Old Adam once and for all. I find myself looking forward to the day of my liberation with determination and hope.

    A great asset to this mindset is regular use of Evening Prayer, Vespers, and/or Compline. Placing yourself in God’s hands each night is a constant rehearsal for the inevitable moment when you will approach death with that same degree of comfort and faith. Death has no victory over the Christian. One day the Groom will come for His bride. I plan to spend the majority of my time getting ready for the feast. I can hardly wait.

    Of course these are not things that I have learned by my own ability. The Holy Spirit teaches these things as faith grows, strengthens, and matures. They go hand in hand with spiritual discipline and self-denial.