Funerals are a reality in today’s culture. This isn’t really any different from years past. Everyone will die. All cultures have some form of expression and focus to acknowledge the death of a person. The Christian focus is on a celebration of life to come.
The attendance at funerals is intriguing to observe. I am oftentimes surprised, both positively and negatively, at the number of people who attend. Will Rogers once said that the biggest factor determining the number of people attending your funeral will be the weather.
Something odd just occurred last month in a rural part of China. Evidently family members hire strippers to attract large crowds to funerals. The Chinese government is forbidding strippers from performing at funerals in the country. They have called the burlesque send-offs “uncivilized.” They think a large attendance at the funeral is a way of guaranteeing good fortune for the deceased in the afterlife.
Part of this new crackdown by arresting strippers and their employers is a result of the “Culture Ministry.” The Culture Ministry said, “This type of illegal operation disrupts the order of the cultural market.” They should also have said something about social morals.
Britain has also recently had a new twist to funerals. In order to get more people to come, you can hire weeping professional grievers for wakes and funerals. You order them from “Rent-A-Mourner.” The cost is $68 per head. The rented mourner will read up on the deceased’s life story “so they converse with other mourners with confidence.” That is sad. Yogi Berra said some funny things. One of his best was, “Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t go to yours.”
Some funerals in today’s culture often include eloquent eulogies and high tributes to the poor soul in the casket or urn. Upon hearing the eloquent things said about the deceased, some attendees wonder if they are at the right funeral.
A good Jewish friend shared with me recently about his father’s attending a funeral of a friend. The presiding rabbi told of so many extremely good qualities (greatly exaggerated) of his deceased friend that he told those sitting around him that he needed to be excused. When asked why, he said, “I want to peep in the casket to see if that’s my friend. I might be at the wrong funeral.”
Abraham Lincoln once listened to all the good things said at the funeral of one of his generals. Lincoln observed, “If he had known he’d get a funeral like this, he’d have died much sooner.”
The important focus about a funeral is not how good the deceased looks, or the quality of the music, or the cost of the casket, or the flower arrangements, or the eloquence of the eulogy. The focus is not about how many people are coming, but where the deceased is going!
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die” (John 11:25) Paul sounded the victory for Christians: “O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Focus – Christians never see each other for the last time.