The article about Christian funerals by Pastor Jonathan Watt (Setember 2007) was excellent. I liked his emphasis on “focusing on the cross.” The cross gives peace, certainty of heaven, and comfort at funerals. It can help people answer the question, “Did the deceased go to heaven, and will I go to heaven?” At a funeral, people are 100 percent receptive to hearing about Jesus.
While serving at a veterans home in Winfield, Kan., I attended and preached many funeral services. Being a bottom-line LCMS evangelist, I believe God used me to develop what I call “The Lutheran Last Rights.” Put your name in the blanks: “For God so loved ______ that He gave His only Son to suffer, die, and rise again for ______’s sins, that if ______ believes Jesus died for his sins, ______ shall never perish in hell but ______ shall have everlasting life in heaven”—John 3:16 paraphrased and personalized.
I tried to make sure I shared this while a person was living, when he or she was sick, and especially at his or her funeral. Also, I gave a copy of the card to the relatives and friends of the deceased, who were very appreciative. Try it, for people tell me it is simple and direct.
Fred C. Darkow
How grateful I am to The Lutheran Witness and Jonathan Watt for raising the issue of funeral planning for Lutherans. I would simply suggest adding Sacrament to Word. The new Lutheran Service Book puts the two together in a remarkable way in the new funeral service. What a way to “remember your Baptism” (cf. Martin Luther). Then look ahead to the Eucharist and celebrating life with the saints on earth and in heaven.
Roger Frobe, Chaplain
St. Simons Island, Ga.I’d like to add one remark to Pastor Watt’s fine article on funerals (Lutheran Witness, September, 2007). At most “funerals,” the body of the deceased is present; therefore, the funeral is as much for that individual as it is for anybody. If a funeral is not for the dead person, why is their body present? A Christian funeral is the church’s public thanksgiving for God’s working in that person’s life. People instinctively know this because they come to “pay their respects.” Even if it is a “memorial” service, it is still remembering the deceased and not simply Jesus or the audience. At the cemetery, we then commit the baptized and sanctified body to his or her resting place. We bless the departed. We claim the resurrection promises. Like a marriage, confirmation, or baptism, your funeral is indeed “for you.” With this in mind, people do indeed care what is done, sung, and said at their funerals. Sleeping saints are not detached and unconcerned with this world. Especially are they concerned with funeral arrangements if it gives them one last opportunity to confess their faith and shower their unbelieving friends and family with the life-giving gospel. Just because it focuses on the cross of Christ does not mean that the funeral is not for me or about me. Unless we follow the godless opinion that the body is just a useless, empty shell, we will give it the honor and respect that it is due. Perhaps this Gnostic opinion is what leads to so many newspaper obituaries that say, “At his or her request, there will be no service.”
The Rev. J. Rinas Quesnel
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