Two Very Different Funerals

From: Living With An Eternal Perspective
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A couple of years ago I had just graduated from seminary. I moved to Memphis. I was green. And I had been here about a month. The church that I was working at the time owned a church building unlike us.

So there were funerals there often. As a staff member, you would often get pulled into serving in a funeral. I didn’t officiate the funeral or anything like that but I was my role on this day to be there during visitation. It was about three hours before the service was going to start and I was in the fellowship hall.

I greeted people and welcome people. I will never forget this day because there was such joy in this room. It’s hard to describe like at this point in my life I had never been to many funerals. So I did not know what to expect. My expectation was that everybody was going to be sad. Everybody was going to be crying. They’re gonna be hugging the neck of the widow and her family and kids. It was gonna be a sorrowful day. And it was just the opposite.

It was a celebration! There was a joy. There was laughter. They were celebrating a life well-lived.

The service started and normally we wouldn’t step into the service but I was so drawn to this man. I had never met him, but I had just experienced the people’s lives that he had touched. So I stepped into the auditorium. Every seat was taken. It was standing room only. The balcony was full. They had an organ on the side. So I I sat on the floor where the organ was because I wanted to experience this man’s funeral.

They had an open mic at this funeral. I had been to a lot of funerals but, man, it was an open mic. People began to walk up to the mic and share stories of how this man had loved them. How he had met them in crisis, provided a ride, food, a place to stay. How he had discipled, invested his life, taught them Bible. How he had prayed over them.

The stories went on and on. I’ll never forget, his son just talking about his dad. At that point, I had no kids, but I thought the power to have his 60-year-old son sit there and talk about his dad. I thought “What a life!” A life that was not lived for himself, but a life that lived with eternity in mind. A life that lived from everlasting to everlasting.

Two weeks later, another funeral. The senior pastor was gone and so I got called to go visit the family at their house. I still remember this because of just how opposite it was. I also remember it because the first man that passed away was 81 years old. The second man that passed away was 81 years old. Both men lived the same amount of time on this earth.

I was driving to their house and I was pulling into this cul-de-sac. I was anticipating that there were going to be cars everywhere. I pulled up and there was nobody. Except for one car in the driveway. This was 19 years ago so I had my flip phone and my pager you know. So I couldn’t get on my smartphone and text somebody saying “Is this a right address?”

I went up to the door and the grown son, fifty-five sixty years old, answered the door and invited me in. It was just the two of us. What unfolded over the next thirty minutes was the man saying “I don’t have a relationship with my Dad.” I’ll never forget he said something like “Life for my dad was about my dad. And everybody else just kind of got in the way.”

The man shared about broken relationship after broken relationship. Failed marriage after failed marriage. He said “My daughters are not even coming back to their grandfather’s funeral. He had no relationship with them. I’m not gonna make them come back. Matter of fact, we don’t even want to do the funeral in the church building can we just do it at the graveside.”

So a few days later there was the graveside service. At that graveside, it was me, the senior pastor, this man’s son, and the man’s son’s wife.

There were four of us.

And I just remember the comparison of a life that was spent investing in others, and one spent on himself.

2017-10-25T12:16:04+00:00 September 7th, 2017|Blog, Sermon Clips, Video|