Marlene and I are in Canada at present. Marlene’s mother, Lucille Meeds, just went to be with Jesus for eternity- Monday night, 10:55pm PST. The funeral is tomorrow. She will most certainly be missed. I am presiding at the funeral. It will be much like most funerals- songs, tributes, pictures, message, prayers and the standard tears at losing a loved one.
However, funerals are all different in one distinct way- the life that has been lived. In that way, each funeral is unique. We can dress those lives up with words in any direction we want. We can offer words of fawning praise, say something about their current place in the universe, selectively re-imagine who they were, and in fact, invent whole new people from our creative reconstructionism. However, what we cannot do is actually change history (though we can re-imagine it),their residence in eternity or their impact upon the lives of others. We cannot alter who the person was, in spite of our best efforts. In some cases, sadly, the funeral does no justice for the person deceased, because it embellishes their life so that it overstates any real reflection of their life upon their world around them.
However, each person is remarkably different. That is what makes every funeral markedly different. The form is the same- funerals vary very little in form.. But, the substance is as different as one person is different from others. In cases like this, it is a joy for the pastor (me) performing the service knowing that the life well lived is actually the life being celebrated. In fact, our portrayal will likely fall a little short of the actual life. Lucille loved, gave, contributed, helped, supported, prayed and shared. People from Burundi to Wesley Manor to Mesa Arizona to her scattered children and her much benefited sons-in-law and daughter-in-law are much better off because of her presence, words and actions. She truly had a reason to breathe and contribute to others’ reason in being here. In this case, as in many others, the funeral will likely be an injustice to her life in the opposite direction. It will fail to capture the profundity of her impact upon the lives of others. We will not be able to squeeze out all of her good in an hour or two.
Simultaneous with Lucille’s final weeks of struggle, her grandson Samuel Thomas, was writing an unrelated song and performed it with his band, Reckless Abandon. The convergence of Lucille’s life and the message of the song is more than coincidence to me. As I step into a pulpit tomorrow to bring words, I am hopeful that our lives truly amount to something in bringing hope and help and support and giving and sharing in the world. I hope we have a reason to breathe and help others to better understand their reason to breathe.
Check it out on youtube: http://youtu.be/S-UcivCMtvM