Notes from Jan

A Good Funeral Wakes Up the Living to Live and Love Better

March 4, 2019

My weeks in California were bookended by two funerals, one for Dr. Richard Gross, much loved former President of Gordon College and mentor to many, including Jud and me. Then, three days ago a service for, Dr. Ken Swetland, administrator and beloved professor from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

Now that I’m older, I like funerals, as much or more than weddings, unless it’s my own. They’re significant occasions to learn from others who finished well, whose lives support the words spoken and written about them. Dick and Ken both lived life well. As Reid Swetland said of his Dad, ” He was true to God’s Word and his own word.”

In the quietness before organ notes, or words of welcome, there are those nods, smiles of recognition, and whispered words of encouragement. Still remembering. These families do not grieve alone, nor do we. The Bible passages read, prayers spoken, hymns sung together put melody and words to the faith that connects us, living and dead.

Funerals are a bit like a choir rehearsal, reminding us our words matter, as does listening to each other, knowing when to take a deep breath, watching for cues of when to join in or rest, and appreciating all the parts. We need each other, not just to make music worth a listen, but to live well and help each other make it Home.

Then, as if to put an exclamation point on the fact that death’s lost its stinger and finality, we leave the church service and enter a place prepared for a party. We mingle, laugh, tell stories, and fill plates from tables laden with food fit for the living, in honor of the dead.

All’s a reminder of One Day when we’ll gather at The Feast, when Grace will be the host, not a few mumbled words before we eat.

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  • Reply Paula Cerulli March 5, 2019 at 9:11 am

    Beautiful tribute~ Always marvel at your way with words on paper; how you express your heart ~
    Blessings to you as always, Paula Cerulli

  • Reply Dale March 5, 2019 at 10:15 am

    Thanks for sharing about “Hooker.” He is the reason I went to MSU and reconnected with you and Jud. It’s a shame people like Jud and Dick don’t know about their legacy. There will be a long line in the new heaven and new earth waiting to shake their big hands and receive their bear hugs.

    Blessings, Dale

  • Reply Wendy Lane March 5, 2019 at 3:29 pm

    Funerals can be such amazing times filled with a plethora of emotions – but so often I leave thankful for what I learned about whoever passed away, and thankful to be able to grieve and share and laugh and cry with loved ones left behind. Always thankful when I knew the person was a believer that they are in such a better place, and I will see them again, as you so well said “when we’ll gather at The Feast, when Grace will be the host, not a few mumbled words before we eat.” <3

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