Grief in death makes life challenging for the living. The challenge is greatest, of course, for the closest family and friends of the deceased; our great joy is to see the Lord Jesus bring comfort in seasons of loss through his word and Spirit.
In the season of loss, responsibilities and stress also increase for the pastor responsible for the funeral service. In most cases, the pastor is also grieving. He bears a unique challenge in that he is called to grieve himself, bring comfort and minister to the family, and oversee the funeral and interment services. Depending on the situation, his calling may involve more.
Pastors love it when people help make preparation for their own funeral. It can be helpful to select in advance Scripture texts or songs to be used. Identifying funeral service participants in advance can aid too. But, in my experience, there is one thing above all others you can do to help your pastor with your funeral.
What will help your pastor with your funeral more than anything? Die today. Yes, that’s right; die today, even as you live. The easiest funerals for pastors are always for the people who so obviously died in Jesus Christ years before their physical death. Funerals are easiest for those who:
- Have died and been buried with Christ by faith (Romans 6:1-14)
- Die daily like the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 15:31)
- Deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Jesus (Mark 8:34-38)
- Spend themselves and are spent for the sake of others (2 Corinthians 12:15)
- Have, in life, already become like Jesus in his death (Philippians 3:10)
Death always hurts because it is a result of our rebellion against God. Funerals will sting until Jesus’ return. But, your funeral will also bear the aroma of Christ’s victory if you have long since been dead and raised with him.
So, please, help your pastor prepare for your funeral by dying today even as you live.