I don’t know about other people, but funerals always cause me to think.  Of course, I remember the departed individual and what they meant to me.  I recall other people in my life who have passed.  Funerals are moments in time that stick in my memory.  I will never forget sitting up in a hotel bed with all the lights off, my husband and small children asleep, working on a Blackberry phone (a tiny Blackberry phone), putting memories together for my mother’s funeral.  As an only child, this task went to me alone.  I will never forget my aunts being quite distraught that we chose to cremate my mother instead of bury her.  The memory of the very small, empty chapel at the very large church in Wichita Falls, Texas will forever stay in my memory.  My mother had outlived most of her friendships and spent her last days in a nursing home.  No one remembered her but family. 

I was in my early 20s when I attended my oldest uncle’s funeral which, if memory serves, was the first funeral I attended as an adult.  I’m just going to be blunt here – my uncle wasn’t a very good person and no one was really all that sad that he died.  In fact, I’m sure there were people who were relieved, including members of his own family.  My uncle’s crowning achievement was that he was an ace naval pilot in World War II, which is no small accomplishment.  In contrast, the vast majority of his life revolved around his one true love – alcohol.  My uncle was a drunk.  He did bad things while he was drunk.  The seats at his funeral were occupied by his family and his wife’s friends.  Despite the fact that the pastor was closely acquainted with my aunt, he didn’t know my uncle at all.  What struck me so intensely was how he struggled to find anything positive to say about my uncle past his early life.  Tragically, the culmination of his life was that he was a drunk and his heroism from a long past war was all but forgotten.  His funeral was the catalyst for my young adult self to decide that I didn’t want to drink any more – ever.  It changed the entire trajectory of my life.

Very recently, I attended the funerals of a couple who died within a few months of each other.  As with most funerals, they spoke of their love for each other and the love of their family for them.  Their lives were highlighted in words and pictures, attempting to encapsulate their entire beings within the limited time of the service.  What stood out to me was that they were each lovingly described as a “good Christian” person.  As I thought about this description, I wondered if people would say that about me?  Am I a “good Christian” woman?  What does that really mean?  What qualities do you need to possess to be a “good Christian?”  More importantly, am I living up to my own definition of a “good Christian?”

Some years ago, I attended the funeral of an elderly pastor at our church.  There was literally standing room only at his funeral.  In fact, the church provided overflow seating in another large room outside the sanctuary with a video feed of the service.  There was no doubt to anyone who ever knew this man that he was indeed a good Christian man.  He was one of the finest people many of us will ever know.  He served the Lord until his last breath.

Am I that kind of Christian?

Or, have I wasted what God has blessed me with?  Is there some life I neglected to touch? Have I truly served the least of these?  Will God say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant?” (Mat 25:23)

“Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’  Matthew 25:37-40

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