Grandma Great Has Left the Building
Several weeks ago, my wife rushed to the hospital emergency room where her grandmother, nickname Grandma Great, had been transported after a fall. Fortunately, Grandma Great did not break any bones when she fell. However, the doctor determined that she fell because her heart was malfunctioning and her blood pressure would randomly plummet. The doctor said Grandma Great would not be with us much longer. She passed away a couple weeks ago at the ripe old age of 99 ½. (I wonder why we refer to the elderly as “ripe.”)
Anyhow, I was disappointed because I had rooted for Grandma Great to make it to one hundred. But bodies wracked with age eventually wear out on their own timetable. Time is not our ally. Thankfully, Grandma Great had a simple childlike faith in Christ. She was humming and singing old Christian hymns nearly up to the day she passed away. Grandma Great had lived a colorful life and I suspect she would freely admit mistakes made along the way. I anticipated her funeral would be ripe with stories of her exploits and the times in which she lived.
Her funeral was arranged at the church where she had attended before dementia forced her to scale back her way of life. Family members came from far and near, some of whom had rarely, if ever, set foot inside a church.
The pastor stuck to a formal funeral liturgy that was a lot like a Sunday morning service. It was a beautiful service complete with prayer, singing, Scripture reading, responsive reading, doctrinal instruction, and a dose of proselytizing. Yet one family member reported hearing an occasional sigh of impatience from one or two folks in the pews. (That’s my wife’s side of the family.) Yes, Grandma Great was mentioned in her funeral. And she was also honored at the reception after the service. But Grandma Great’s actual funeral service made me cringe a little. Not because I was embarrassed to have Christ openly proclaimed to believers and unbelievers alike. It is just that we sometimes don’t know when we are overdoing it. How so? Here is an example.
I have attended weddings where the entire service, as well as the reception, was almost exclusively about Christ and matters of faith. Don’t get me wrong . . . they were beautiful weddings with elegant receptions. But nearly all the talk from those at the microphone was religious in nature. Before you call me a heretic for suggesting that Christ not take center stage at milestones in our lives, hear me out. When I go to a wedding I look forward to hearing about the young couple getting hitched. I like to hear about their romance and courtship. (Yes, I know that is a little odd for a manly man like me.) I like the celebratory and emotional toasts to the couple. I like to hear humorous stories about the newlyweds. It is also fun to hear about their childhood exploits. Then, at the perfect time, a strategic and well placed Scripture or example of how Christ has influenced the lives of the newlyweds can have a powerful effect on those in attendance. (Especially if they’ve already knocked back a couple glasses of wine.)
If we focus excessively on religious talk we can come across as . . . well, like a couple going on a first date where the guy talks exclusively about himself. (Ladies, you know the type of dude I’m talking about.) Weddings and funerals can be great opportunities to share the good news of Christ, just so we don’t drone on to the point where peoples’ eyes glaze over. I am not suggesting we exalt ourselves. I know the message of Christ is the most important thing non-Christians need to hear in this life. But religion speak in bulk is not always the best way to go about it, especially on a first date. I’m just sayin.’