Should We Trade in Funerals for “Celebrations of Life”?

"I’ve nothing against celebrating the life of a servant of the Lord Jesus. We ought to honor faithful followers of Jesus for finishing their race. We ought to challenge those in attendance to “let [their] manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.” And yet I wonder: does this desire to celebrate life grow out of a stronger desire to avoid death?" - Jason Allen

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Bert Perry's picture

Would be "whatever name you give your last celebration, is the Gospel going to be preached?"

I used to joke, regarding weight loss, that the bad news is that the first three letters of "diet" are "die", but on the bright side, the first three letters of "funeral"....oh, who am I kidding?  I still do.  :^)   And on the more serious side, probably the best thing I ever experienced around a funeral was my great aunt noting that she knew my great uncle was happier in Heaven, but she sure missed him.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

G. N. Barkman's picture

I appreciate this article.  This needs to be said.  I'm not sure that everyone who calls a funeral "a celebration of life" is trying to avoid the reality of death, but I'm sure some are.  I understand the desire to emphasize the positive, but Solomon tells us that more is gained from attending a house of mourning than feasting and mirth.  Funerals should be solemn occasions to seriously consider the realities of death, coupled with the glorious hope of eternal life through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

G. N. Barkman

WallyMorris's picture

I officiate many funerals in our town since one of the funeral homes uses me to speak at funerals where the family does not go to church but wishes a pastor to speak at the funeral. "Celebration of Life" is usually a back door attempt to minimize the reality of death. Although we should be tactful and respectful, the gospel can be proclaimed even when people want to avoid it. Certainly a person's life can be "celebrated" if there is something to celebrate. Sometimes that is difficult, if not impossible. I officiated a funeral for a teenager who committed suicide - not much to celebrate there. Sometimes a family member will bluntly tell me they want a "short service", which usually means "Don't say much about God". I try to accommodate them concerning the time/length of service, but I always mention something about the gospel. Preaching the funeral of a believer is, of course, much easier. But even then the extended family has unbelievers who try to control the service. A combination of tact, compassion, and the truth always works well.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN