What is a Funeral?

Published 9:33 am Friday, November 17, 2023

By Pastor Brandon Young

Recently, I have had several funerals to officiate. Death comes to all and age does not seem to be a factor. I have held funerals of babies, children, young adults, middle-aged adults, and elders. Funerals are difficult and never easy because we do not want to bid farewell to somebody we love. I have given much thought to what a funeral truly is. By definition, a funeral is a ritualized ceremony following a death to honor, memorialize, and celebrate an individual. During the funeral, the life of the deceased is evaluated and examined by those present. Memories are recalled and those in attendance reflect back upon their encounters with the deceased person. It would do each of us well to meditate upon our own funeral and it may change how we conduct ourselves.

In the Bible, we read of a person who passed away, and we see that her community was devastated by her passing. Acts 9:36-42 says, “36 Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. 37 And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. 38 And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them. 39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them.40But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. 41 And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive. 42 And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.”

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In this passage, we read about a woman named Tabitha who did many great works for those around her. She made sure that the widows had clothing and their needs were met. She showed her faith in Christ by her works. Once she passed, all those that gathered were holding what she had made for them while weeping profusely. They brought these items to her funeral and showed them to Peter. These items had spared them and made their lives better. They would not soon forget her labor of love. Peter prays over Tabitha and she resurrects from the dead. I am certain the crowd went wild with cheering and praising the Lord. What an amazing story!

This story has forced me to evaluate what I will leave behind when I go. Randy Travis said, “It’s not what you take when you leave this world behind you, it’s what you leave behind you when you go.” Will folks come to my funeral holding love, compassion, mercy, and grace? I certainly hope so! That is my heart’s desire. I want to make an impact on my community! It is imperative that we love like Jesus. I don’t want folks to see Brandon, but I want them to see Christ in Brandon. I pray that my passing leaves a void. If one can pass away and it does not bother anyone, then that person is not making an impact on his or her fellow man. I remember the day I heard that Billy Graham passed. It felt like the world had grown a bit darker with his home-going. Let’s do our best to make an impact and go out of our way to leave behind something that will assist others. Remember, you do not need to be old to die, and each day we are preaching our own funeral by the life we are living. I love all of you dearly and appreciate you taking a moment to read this column.

(The Solution Column is presented weekly by Pastor Brandon Young of Harmony Free Will Baptist Church, Hampton)