Two Secular Funerals

June 28, 1998
by Sylvia Cleland

Romans 5:10a – Even when we were God's enemies he made peace with us, because his Son died for us. (CEV)

Yesterday, I attended a secular funeral. Fine words were spoken about a woman's life, accomplishments, and values. Unspoken, was her considerable disregard for God, and for Christ's Church. The chaplain walked a tightrope between his own convictions and the woman's funeral instructions. The Twenty-Third Psalm, the Lord's Prayer, the Committal Prayer, God briefly mentioned. A pastoral message centred upon the support and caring which family members could offer one another and receive from friends.

The mourners drifted out into the afternoon sunlight, and a deep dark sadness settled around us like a grey mist. Honouring the woman's stance on matters religious, no gospel message had been spoken to those she left behind; no hope offered those who grieve.

Yesterday, I remembered another secular funeral. A young woman spoke about the deceased's influence upon her life and career. And then she said, "I know my mentor did not share my religious beliefs, but he respected my right to them. I am here to tell you, it is only through Jesus Christ we can find peace in the face of death. Because God loves us, because Jesus is victorious over death, I have hope in these sad days. I have hope, even for my friend."

Two secular funerals.

    One hope in Jesus Christ!

Prayer: Compassionate and merciful God, give light and life to those who dwell in the shadow of death. Grant hope to the hopeless. Surround with love those who reject you, so they might be drawn to your side, that your Name might be glorified through Jesus Christ who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

About the author:

Sylvia Cleland
North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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