Celebration of Life
May 13, 2019
I have noticed when the cremation society advertises its services on TV they have survivors talking about the “celebration of life” of the deceased person. One woman says that when she dies she doesn’t want anyone standing over her coffin crying; instead she wants a celebration of her life. Every time I see these ads I am reminded of how sad death is without the promise of eternal life. I am not necessarily certain that I want anybody celebrating my life, but I want a gathering of faithful who will encourage each other in the idea that we will see each other again.
This is the core of the Christian life, and although this idea has not always been serviced well by some of the faithful, it is the only good reason that the faith still exists two thousand years after Christ. There are those who know that we have an eternal life, but get caught into the idea that given the fact that there is a heaven and a hell (and purgatory besides) that there will be some of us who just do not make it. I have heard some funeral homilies in which the priest reminds people to pray for the deceased because without their prayers the dead person my never make it out of purgatory. I think it is fairly easy to get caught up by this idea and begin to reflect more negatively on the impending future. We can suffer our own brokenness and begin to think heaven is only for the best people (the saints) while the rest of us, even though we are doing our best, just are going to struggle into eternal life.
The earliest of Christians, being startled and delighted with the resurrection of Jesus Christ had a much different view of what would happen to them at death. They concentrated on the idea of the resurrection of the body. Jesus is the first-born of the dead and all who belong to him will follow in his new life. The stories we are hearing in these weeks after Easter are all about the bodily appearance of Jesus. My favorite of the stories is where Jesus asks if they have anything to eat. This is a real connection to a living body. I think the ancient Christians were concentrating on the true message of Jesus’ death and resurrection. It would be good for us to recover that mentality and not worry too much about where we will be spending eternity. After all it’s all in God’s hands.