2000-04-25 - Surprise Funeral Ruined

Job 26:6 Death is naked before God.

It was a hard day at work for a 60-year-old Japanese shipbuilder who came home and found his family planning his funeral. Police had informed the family that he had been killed in a car accident earlier that day, and his own brother-in-law had identified the victim's body as his. The family was in the final stages of planning when he walked into the living room. The funeral has been postponed.

I wonder if we ought to have surprise funerals in the church of Christ. It might shake people out of their earthly focused shell. “This day will come and this is how we are planning to remember you.” How would you like to hear that? It is probably just a little too morbid to put into action, and maybe even a little too far "out there" for some, but I am not willing to say it is a really bad idea. It could be a wake up call for someone.

When I was a college pastor I held an exercise with the group that required them to come back the next week with their obituaries written. I told them that I wanted them to think about how they wanted to be remembered when they were gone.

They all came prepared and I next told them that they ought to now go out and live their lives in such a way as to meet those dreams and desires. No one dreams of being insignificant for God’s glory. No one desires to have a marginal impact on the world. No, the Christian seeks to be used for God’s glory and to live in such a way that glorifies God. It is easy to forget, but at the root, at the heart, that is the life blood of the Christian--God’s glory.

Another thing to do with a youth group or college group is to take them on a field trip to a maternity ward at a hospital. After all the “ooo’s” and “ahh’s” you pull the group aside and say, “This is how life begins, lets move on.” Next we bring them to a cemetery and have a picnic. The message is real simple, “This is how life ends, what are you planning to do in between?”

The example is striking and even the thought of it should so be for us also. But someday, someone will be making our arrangements. They will be sitting down and thinking how we should be remembered. I have conducted a few funerals and the one thing I always sought to do is to show how the dead persons life, in some way, modeled the life and example of Christ. Let’s seek to make it easy on those who will have to eulogize us. Let us live for Christ because when our loved ones are planning our funeral we are not likely to have the opportunity to walk in on them.

“All men think all men are mortal but themselves.”--Edward Young (1683 1765), English poet, playwright.

Three Old Gravestone Epitaphs:

“Cheerio, see you soon.”

“Sinner, awake; approach the grave:
And while thine eyes the scene survey,
Look unto Him who came to save,
And bids the live an endless day.”

“Forbear to ask,
Whose dust lies here,
Beneath the turf or stone?
Remember, thou must soon appear
Before thy Judge’s Throne!”

Soli Deo Gloria,