Last week I did two of the most difficult funerals I’ve ever done in my life. They were both high profile deaths in our community (you can read about them here and here), and after some reflection I thought I would share a couple of learnings from performing both ceremonies:
Funerals are heavy and humbling
There is never a good time for a funeral – but they are an unforgettable gift to a family in crisis. They are one of the heaviest aspects of pastoral care a pastor is called to do. I’ve felt it the past couple of weeks. It isn’t easy, but you have the chance to walk through a dark place with the family and show them God’s light. This is why you are here. Thank God that He has allowed you to be trusted with this.
Funerals are an incredible opportunity to share Jesus
Without a doubt, having a platform to give comfort and hope to people in need is the most fulfilling part of carrying such a heavy burden. Pointing them to Jesus Christ and the Good News is central to a funeral message. I do my best to share John 14 in every service, even if the person you are eulogizing wasn’t a Christian.
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. John 14:1-6 NLT
Funerals are the beginning of a relationship with the family
A funeral is not intended to be the end of a relationship with the family – they are just the beginning. Often times members of the family will need additional counseling or help possibly navigating the future ahead without their loved ones. By performing the funeral, you are now an honorary member of the family and can help them in the days, weeks and maybe even years ahead.