“Didn’t we have a grand time at the funeral?”

I made two trips to my home town over the last two days in order to conduct a funeral for a very sweet lady who was one of the secretaries at our church in years gone by. It was one of those funerals that was relative easy to preach (my text was Psalms 116:15): she was a believer; she lived to be 93 years old; and, I knew her well from both working with her, and ministering to her as her husband battled Parkinson’s Disease for eight long years during the 1980s-1990s.

Funerals in many ways are odd gatherings with each section of the country having its own way of saying good-bye to loved ones, even differing in rituals from rural to urban areas. Where I live the service tends to be divided into two parts: the first speaking of what made the person who had died precious to their loved ones, and the second, a message of comfort from God’s Word, with an effort to point people to Christ through the Gospel.

The time of the visitation and funeral is also an odd mixture of joy and grief. On the one hand, everyone is truly sorry for the loss that has been experienced, and tears and weeping are not an unusual occurrence. However, there is the joy of seeing family and acquaintances that maybe haven’t been seen in years, and often decades. In the last two days I have visited with former church members, old pastor buddies, old school classmates, some of my oldest son’s high school teachers, and even a funeral director that I haven’t seen in years.

Yes, it’s weird to have experienced the various contrasting emotions all in one place, but it explains why the dear lady from beautiful, downtown Gist, Texas, could say, “Didn’t we have a grand time at the funeral?”

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