A Celebration of Life

I didn’t know Randolph. Not really.

He and his wife sat across the table from my wife and me at a banquet five or ten years ago, and he entertained us with talk about his train. That’s what my wife tells me, anyhow. I honestly don’t remember.

Randolph died last week, and his funeral was on Saturday. I say “funeral” because that’s the traditional word for it, but the family chose to call it a celebration of life. I like that.

I suppose most funerals include eulogies, even if the deceased was highly unpopular. But Randolph appears to have been quite an outstanding man. One who was highly regarded. And he would have been the first one to credit God with helping him be the kind of man so many people admired and looked up to.

Not every part of a “celebration of life” is overtly  joyous, of course, but the pictures projected on the screen for the first portion of the service, the eulogy, the extremely upbeat choir anthem “Jerusalem,” and the congregational singing of the joyous hymn “Victory in Jesus” all worked together to make Randolph’s service a positive event.

That’s not unusual for a Christian funeral.  We believe the deceased is already in Heaven enjoying fellowship with his Lord and Savior. The body–in Randolph’s case, he had already been buried–is simply an empty shell. Although even the most devout of Christians will miss their friend and loved one, there’s nothing to grieve about. Not for his sake, anyhow.

Like you, I have no idea how much time I have left. At seventy, I know I’m closer to my earthly death than I was at sixty-nine. I hope and pray that God will continue to bless my earthly existence with meaning and significance. And that when I go, my service will be a time of celebration.

I’ve already made a video of me doing one of my original songs, “What Will You Leave Behind?” I want that to be played at my Celebration of Life. But that’s not a fun song. Maybe have them show a Youtube video of Chi Coltrane singing “Go Like Elijah.” (Watch it here.)

[NOTE: What timing! I wrote most of this Sunday afternoon. Sunday night I experienced severe chest and abdominal pains that sent me to the ER. My heart was fine. The doctor there thought it was reflux. I went to my PCP on Monday. He was more inclined to think it might be an intestinal bug. After I got home, his office called to say he wanted me to have an ultrasound–maybe gall bladder problems. As of the time I’m writing this, I’m scheduled for that this afternoon. I don’t know whether I’ll have results back soon enough to give you an update before posting this. But no matter what the problem proves to be, it’s been a very timely reminder that my body will continue to deteriorate. And I’m thankful for God’s comforting company every step of the way.]

What about you? What’s your view of funerals? Have you experienced the difference between a Christian Celebration of Life service and one that’s not? How about leaving a comment.

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

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Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

My Version of Formality

w5   w3   Singing   PastorPamUs

I didn’t wear jeans when I was a kid. I’m not sure any of my friends did, either. Even when I made it to high school and college, jeans weren’t cool yet. At least, if they were, I wasn’t.

I can’t recall when I started wearing jeans, but it was probably during the latter 1960s or early 1970s, when all kinds of colorful and informal clothes were the rage. I’ll never forget my plaid fringed vest or my matching multi-colored striped vest and bell bottom pants. But they weren’t jeans.

I do, however, recall a denim suit–very nice, very soft and smooth. If anything, though, it was too dressy.

I’ve never been what most people would consider a formal person.

I avoided ties when I was teaching, to the disgust of the supervisor who sat in on my classes periodically. Although forced to wear them when working at the Maryland Job Service office–the office manager wouldn’t even let me wear a turtleneck–I turned an image of a tie upside down and posted it on my website so it would move back and forth across the screen, but only during work hours on week days.

Or did that happen while I was at the International Mission Board before they finally loosened the dress code some and actually started having Casual Dress Fridays? Not that jeans were permitted then.

I’ve only worn a tux on three occasions–for weddings not my own. Rusty, Kristi, and Stan, I hope you appreciate it. I only wore a nice suit–I had to buy one because I didn’t already have one–for the wedding to my first wife. I’ll never cease to be thankful she didn’t insist on a tux.

My wedding to Kathleen was totally informal, though. As you can see from the first two pictures shown above, we wore jeans and denim shirts over t-shirts. That wedding took place in the social hall of our church during what was normally the Wednesday night Bible study. Nice and informal, but very meaningful. She and I sang a song I’d written for the occasion.

That was the “official” wedding.

Kathleen’s family couldn’t come to Richmond for the informal wedding, though, so we had a slightly dressier wedding in her mom’s Methodist church when we went for a visit at the end of that month–the right-hand two photos. But at least Kathleen didn’t make me wear a tie. She helped me pick out a really dressy looking pullover–she calls it a sweater; I don’t. We also both wore the wooden cross necklaces I’d made.

The only time I’ve worn a tie during the almost thirteen years we’ve been married was when our choir director insisted on it for the presentation of the Christmas musical, when we had too many additional singers to put everyone in a choir robe. I had to go out and buy a white shirt–and a Christmas-themed tie. I’ve been playing bass guitar in the musical ever since and get away with a white turtleneck.

No open caskets with me wearing a suit, either. Kathleen and I are both donating our bodies to science. Uh, not till the time comes, of course. If for some reason we’re not deemed suitable when they take a closer look at us, then we’ll function as organ donors. If there’s anything left of our bodies by then, cremation ought to work just great. Why spend buckets of money on something fancy a bunch of people will just throw dirt on?

We know our eternal future is with God in Heaven. No matter what happens to our earthly bodies, we believe He knows how to put us both back together in a more perfect way than either of us has ever known.

But in the meantime, we’ll keep wearing our jeans to church–and everywhere else. May formality like ours live forever!!!

What about you? Some people not only don’t mind dressing up, they even enjoy it. Which kind of person are you? How about leaving a comment?

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger