Flushing a friend

White_toiletI have long complained about contemporary funerals.  But I have learned about yet another way of honoring the death of a loved one.

A man is going to baseball stadiums around the country.  While the game is going on, he goes to the men’s room and flushes some of the ashes of his late friend down a toilet.

Thus he honors his friend, a baseball fan and a plumber, making him one with the cathedrals of the game.  Or something.

[Read more…]

An obituary for a contemptible life

Memento_mori_(3690813647) (1)Obituaries summarize the events of the life of the deceased, a way of honoring the dead by looking back on the life they have lived. They often turn into eulogies, praising the character and good deeds of the person who died.  Lutheran funerals try to keep the focus away from the person’s good works as something to comfort the family, instead emphasizing Christ, the Gospel, and the persons’ faith.  The funerals of non-Christians are trickier.  (I’d be curious how you pastors handle those.)

A woman recently wrote an obituary for her father, who, she said, would “be missed only for what he never did; being a loving husband, father and good friend.”  He died at age 74, “which was 29 years longer than expected and much longer than he deserved.”

“At a young age,” the obituary said, he “quickly became a model example of bad parenting combined with mental illness and a complete commitment to drinking, drugs, womanizing and being generally offensive.” “Leslie’s life served no other obvious purpose, he did not contribute to society or serve his community and he possessed no redeeming qualities besides [quick-witted] sarcasm which was amusing during his sober days.”  “Leslie’s passing proves that evil does in fact die and hopefully marks a time of healing and safety for all.”  And that’s not all.  You can read the entire obituary after the jump.

My first impulse was to laugh, then to appreciate the brutal honesty, then to be disturbed.  Is this breaking the Commandment about honoring your father and your mother?  It certainly breaks the taboo against “speaking ill of the dead.”  A news story confirms that the man abused his family, having been arrested several times, including for pouring boiling water on his wife.

But imagine living a life that inspired your family to write an obituary like this. [Read more…]

United with him in a death and resurrection like his

The son of a dear couple in our church died suddenly.  He was 34.  His funeral was on Good Friday.  What a conjunction of thoughts and emotions!

There is nothing like a traditional Lutheran funeral service for comfort:  It is all about Christ, full of His Word and His promises, a strong staff to lean on.

One of the many Scriptural passages we meditated on made the connection between what happened to Jesus on Good Friday and Easter and, through baptism, what happens to us:

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Romans 6:3-5)

So on Good Friday we can contemplate our death in Christ’s death.  And on Easter we can contemplate our resurrection in Christ’s resurrection.

The sermon at Justice Scalia’s funeral

At Justice Scalia’s funeral, his son, Rev. Paul Scalia, a priest, gave the sermon.  Compare it to other funeral eulogies and sermons that you have heard lately.  This one was not about his father’s accomplishments, his good works, and sentimental memories about him.  It was about Jesus. [Read more…]

Six things not to say at a funeral

Chad Bird lists six things that he does NOT want said at his funeral. [Read more…]

The Visitation

How I dreaded the “visitation.”  Having to see my father’s dead body.  Having to meet and greet well-wishers while being in a highly emotional state.   What a horrible ordeal this is going to be, I thought.  And yet, the visitation on Thursday night was strangely healing.  I’m not sure why, but it was.  I do have some ideas, though. [Read more…]