I have a Celebration of New Life service (a.k.a. funeral) to prepare for this week. It takes place on Friday morning. In my preparations I got to thinking about some other funerals that I have attended for people I know and for family. There are two that stand out to me. They stand out because at each service Jesus was not preached. Actually…the name “Jesus” was not uttered…not even once. Jesus was alluded to, but if I were an unbeliever or someone who has never even heard about this guy, Jesus, I would not have heard any Good News. And both of those services were supposedly Christian funerals.
In seminary, my preaching professor told us that when we preach try to mention Jesus’ name at least once. The obvious implication was to make sure that we were preaching the Good News of Jesus dying and rising for us. For if we are not preaching about Jesus then we are just there giving a speech about some religious topic.
For me, a funeral is a golden opportunity to preach the Good News to those who normally would not step foot inside a church. You also have people who I call CEOs (Christmas Easter Only…with the occasional wedding or funeral). When I preach at a funeral I not only have the mourners in mind but those who don’t normally hear the Gospel. We can’t miss these opportunities.
Jesus needs to be preached!
The best funeral preaching advise I have received came from a woman from Salem who died. She left me detailed instructions about her funeral. This is an excerpt of what she wrote (and how she wrote it):
“DON’T TALK ABOUT ME BECAUSE IT IS NOT ABOUT ME. THIS IS A CELEBRATION OF NEW LIFE.”
And believe me…I was going to listen to her…and I still do. To this day, this is why we call funerals “A Celebration of New Life.”
Preach Jesus…and don’t miss “golden opportunities”. Preach Jesus and preach Life. Preach Jesus…even if you are not ordained, preach Jesus (in words and deeds). Preach Jesus.
[Did I mention…preach Jesus?]