Recently I attended a memorial service that took place in a funeral home. Because this was something I’ve not experienced in decades, I was especially interested in seeing how this kind of service might compare with a memorial service in a church. I was favorably impressed at how spiritual matters maintained their strengths in the funeral home setting. In this and the following entry, I share some thoughts.
The ancient rituals of the church were not the basis for this service. Instead, the service was framed by a simple progression of life-celebrating features—prayers, Scripture, sermon-like observations, remembrances and singing. The setting was quietly beautiful, dignified and suggestive of life—e.g., plants, light, flowing water.
Some appreciative observations:
• The eulogizing of our friend was purposeful: Her life of service to the community was held up as an example of what Jesus meant when he said, “Inasmuch as you did this to the least of these, you have done it unto me.” A strong testimony and invitation to follow her example.
• The setting helped keep the personal interactions loose and friendly. There was no awkwardness that might have come from fear of missing a ritualistic cue.
• Because the service followed a long and leisurely wake that day and the night before, it felt like an extension or consolidation of the many conversations that had already taken place.
• Notions of heaven, everlasting life, personal salvation, victory over death or God’s providence were not teased out in intricate detail. These things were assumed, and gladly so.
• Those who attended were bonded together because of this service.
• The setting helped several emotions to find their voice. The service did not mute any thoughts.
This service provided a tone and emphasis that was helpful for those in attendance. My reflections continue in the next entry.
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