Dying

The Meaning of Death: A Funeral Meditation

The most prominent reality at a funeral is also at the same time the most difficult subject to discuss. That reality, of course, is the subject of death. As one man has noted, “Death is the one experience that will be shared in common by every person …. Every moment we live, the sand in the hourglass of our existence continues to flow, bringing our final end ever near.”1 And yet, despite the “commonness” of death, most people prefer not to talk about it. There seems to be a kind of natural aversion to death. If we had our choice, we’d much rather celebrate the birth of a new child or the wedding of a close friend. If we had our way, there would be no funerals, no sad and uncomfortable occasions associated with the passing of a loved one.

Yet, we cannot escape reality. Death confronts us on the front page of the newspaper. It shakes us when we have to bury a family member or friend. Finally the day comes when death knocks at our own door. Indeed, the moment you and I were born into the world, we began our lifelong journey to the grave. And so, we can’t avoid the reality of death. With this inescapable reality in view, I’d like briefly to address the meaning of death. Specifically, what is death? And why must we die?

What Is Death?

Webster’s Dictionary defines “death” simply as the cessation of life. Thus, to understand “death,” we must first understand “life.” Webster’s offers two primary definitions:

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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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Two Lessons from Two Radically Different Funerals

By Jordan Standridge. Reposted from The Cripplegate.

Funerals are a gift from God. I know that sounds crazy, but they are a God-given tool to force us to reflect on the brevity of life, and how finite we are as human beings. I truly do believe that humans should attend as many funerals as possible during their lives. It is that good for your soul.

I had the privilege of attending two recently, and they could not have been more different from each other.

The first was that of a believer. One of the sons (who is an elder at our church) gave the eulogy, and the other son, who is a Presbyterian pastor, gave the message. At least 100 people were there. The second was for a non-believer. I had the privilege of giving the message at that one to a crowd of 10 people at the local funeral home.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the incredible difference between the two funerals. Both individuals were in their 80s, both had lived long lives full of experiences, and yet, the outcome of their funerals could not have been more different. Two reminders were very evident as I reflect on this particular “funeral Friday.”

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