Considering One’s Mortality and Memorial Services
by Myles Berg
While sitting quietly before a service, my mind began wandering and the thought came, “What if the departed could be looking down from Heaven watching their own memorial service?” After all, many believe the soul and spirit leave the body upon physical death. Who would want to stay around a decaying or cremated body?
The memorial service is preformed to give recognition to the ending of one’s life on Earth and the beginning of one’s life in Heaven. One key aspect would be to highlight how God has worked in the life of the departed. Most often this becomes part of the eulogies given by those who knew the departed, but generally not acknowledging when, where, and how God has given the departed special gifts, opportunities, and empowerment to accomplish God’s tasks in life.
There is the quote from Socrates (469-399 BC), “An unexamined life is not worth living.” We should consider the memorial service as a time to examine the life of the departed and how it gives glory to God. However, this would best be done by the departed before departing. How well could those at the memorial service do such an analysis? At best each person could draw their own conclusions.
The memorial service represents The Rite of Passage from Earth to Heaven. Perhaps a little time should be spent on reviewing this Right of Passage. It is a big thing; it is the reason God sent His Son Jesus to Earth to bring light to a lost world, to bring Salvation to those who believe in Him, to die on the Cross to pay for their sins, and to prepare a place for us in Heaven so we can become Children of God. Jesus has a major role in the final Rite of Passage.
The departed is only separated from us for a little while. We will all be united when we get to Heaven; assuming we all have a good relationship with Jesus as our Lord and Savior. The separation is a time of morning, but our joy shall return when we are again together in Heaven. We should recognize what Paul said, that it was ‘better to be away from the body and be with the Lord.’
The memorial service is a reminder that death is inevitable for each of us and often we will not know ahead of time when it is coming. Have we prepared ourselves for this transition of life. There is a lot we can do in learning about God, the meaning of life He has given us, and the glory of the future we have in Heaven. With such a goal, the tribulation of life on Earth are really insignificant. Consider 1 Corinthians 13:12 NIV, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”
Not all deaths are the same; some are seen as a blessing the final end of a long downhill battle such as in cancer and the other extreme of a sudden senseless death from violence or other unexpected causes. There is a need for compassion for those attending the memorial service where there are special needs. Consider these passages; ‘Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:1-5 NIV) also “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:28-39 NIV)
Then we have the difficult passage, ‘Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:37-39 NIV)
@ Myles R. Berg 03/18/11