"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A Beautiful Day for a Funeral

I don't like funerals, never have liked them. As a Christian, I know that the passing of someone who is a believer is an exciting time because of the whole heaven and eternal life bit, but it still didn't seem to make me feel any better. Through the years, I have always preferred to play for the service because I could remain a bit distant from the whole thing by having to focus on music rather than what was being said or done. It isn't that I am reticent to weep in public, au contrare', I get quite weepy during many times of worship and praise, at many movies and in the privacy of my car when a song or sermon is touching my heart. It's just the whole grief thing and the public stuff that has always bothered me.

Today, however, I attended a Celebration service for a man in my church who has gone to be with God. Brian was in his forties with a wife and two great teenage kids. He led his family in the Lord, was a true servant of God and always had a smile for everyone he passed. He loved God, his family, his church, sports and life in general. The celebration factor came in because for a number of years, Brian had been stricken with Lou Gehrigs disease and was wheelchair bound and unable to speak, but very rarely missed a service at church. He always sat in his wheelchair by his wife in the pew, would smile at the music and during the message and you could just tell that he was praising God in his heart and wanted to just shout out loud or clap his hands. But, he could not do it physically.

He and his wife were adamant that when this time of transition of life came, that any service was to be joyous, uplifting and a celebration that he was no longer wheelchair bound and could run and shout and praise God with the voice he had lost in recent years. And, as his wife told me yesterday, Brian just went ahead to make sure that heaven was gonna be fun and help prepare things for the rest of us when we come.

I experienced a time today of pure joy and celebration that Brian had lived and died, but is now complete. He touched my life and the lives of all he met and we are better for it. As the family came into the sanctuary we began singing "Victory in Jesus" and the family was singing almost louder than the congregation. His wife had her hands raised in praise when we sang "Shout to the Lord" and would stand in reverence and praise when "No More Night" was sung at the conclusion.

Were there tears today? Yes. Were some of the tears mine? Definitely so. Tears of sadness? No, but tears for the eternal hope I and other believers have for our future of eternal life with God in His heaven. I realized today that I will see Brian again, my grandparents, aunts and uncles, my boyhood friend Larry, my little pal David and his mother Linda, other men and women who helped to raise me in the faith before their passing and so many other loved ones from my 52 years of life. I guess in my sorta quirky view of theology, I like to believe I'll even see Murphy again; running across the fields of heaven to give me doggie kisses once again. Aw, there come the tears again.

I grew today. No longer will I dread funerals as much because I have come to see them as the true Celebration. If you don't know where you would spend eternity if you died tonight, then let me encourage you to seek out God and His Son, Jesus. Email me privately or comment back and I'll help you and there are so many other readers who can also encourage you.

Thank you, Brian, for your life and what I learned from you today. Thank you Kay, Justin and Kalina for standing firm on a true Celebration of Life and not just a time of sad, slow songs and stories.

Dear readers, please keep Kay, Justin and Kalina in your prayers as they adjust to a life without a husband and father. But, I know they would want you to pray for your own lives as you attempt to find God and live your life for Him each day.

And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.


At 6:30 PM, Blogger JOE B said...

I wish everyone who reads your post would have had the opportunity to have met Brian. He never spoke a word to me, well let me re-phrase that, he never verbally said anything to me. But that smile, oh how I will miss that smile. No matter what, he always had a smile and a nod of his head when he saw you. That was his way of talking. I think he said more with that smile than anyone could say in a thousand spoken words. I wish I could say more but it is tough to type, man I hate it when you get me started. I feel like a big baby when I start crying.
Joe B

At 12:10 AM, Blogger Cindy said...

I will be praying for the family of Brian. I am glad that this was a joyous occasion and that you where able to grow today because of it.

God Bless,

At 12:55 PM, Blogger Gina Burgess said...

Jimmy, when my Dad died, we had a celebration of his life. It was absolutely wonderful. Frankly, I was a bit jealous of him and where he is right now. I would dearly love to be in the arms of my Lord... but, he's not finished with me yet!

For Christians... Celebrations are GREAT!

At 4:46 PM, Blogger PresentStorm said...

Man, you do not post often...but when you do it is a goodn'...lol ( little country slang there)

I always love your posts and this was no exception.. What a wonderful tribute and a wonderful lesson to learn.

I always dread funerals as well..Especially those that you are not sure if they have accepted Christ or not.

I remember my uncles funeral when I was 15 though...and he wanted it to be a celebration as well..The funeral was sad but the after party was great celebration of who uncle Mike was.. I always thought that was neat.

At 3:24 AM, Blogger e-Mom said...

Beautiful. Really a nice post. We're in the same age category I see... it seems funerals are becoming more commonplace, doesn't it? I'm glad you could celebrate today.

At 1:06 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Hi Jimmy,

What a tribute to your friend and encouragement to others.

I hope that in that time, that my family will remember me in the same way, of being made whole, set free from battles of health.

There are times I wish the Lord would let me come home but I know that there is much more that He has for me to do and for that I am thankful.

I am thankful for friends like you, who write from the heart and make it real. I will be lifting His family, as well as your Father and you my friend as you work on the book.

Be blessed. It is an honor to visit your blog.

Writing for the King,


At 11:46 PM, Blogger Vicki said...

This was such a sweet post. Will definitely pray for Brian's family as they adjust the weeks and months to come--that the Lord would meet their every need.


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