I am dying. I don’t know exactly when it started, but at some point, I stopped growing, my body began breaking down, and sometime within the next twenty to forty years—maybe a little more—I’ll be gone. This may come as hard news, but the same thing is happening to you. We’re all dying.
That’s why I’ve begun planning my funeral. I’ve been thinking about it off and on for several years, but it’s a job that is probably better done sooner than later, so I’ve decided to put my wishes on the record before it’s too late. I have some very particular ideas about what a Christian funeral should be, and I want to be sure mine will fit that description.
There will be no “he was a good man” or “celebration of life” nonsense. I am not a good man, and celebration of life funerals are for those who have no hope in eternity and wish to drown out that noise with the best alternative they have. Christians ought not celebrate at the closing of life. We grieve, because life is precious, and death is an enemy, but we do not grieve “as do the rest who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13ff). Don’t celebrate the life that is past; celebrate the life to come. I know I will be.
The Obituary/Eulogy will go something like this:
His accomplishments were few and unremarkable. He possessed more faults than virtues, and no merit by which he may claim his salvation. But, while he was a great sinner, he has an infinitely greater Savior.I suppose someone will want to include more details, but the less said, the better.
There will be hymns—no sentimental slop, just pure gospel. A full orchestra and choir would be nice, but a single piano and quartet will be sufficient. My short list so far:
- Edward Mote, The Solid Rock (Melita)
- Horatius Bonar, I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say (Kingsfold)
- Augustus Toplady, Rock of Ages (Toplady)
- Isaac Watts, O God, Our Help in Ages Past (St. Anne)
- William Cowper, There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood (Cleansing Fountain, sans refrain)
The sermon will be an exposition of the gospel that presents heaven and hell as real places to which everyone must finally go, leaves believers with comfort and hope in Christ, and leaves unbelievers knowing both that they are not saved, and how they can be saved.
I would like a closing solo of I Know that My Redeemer Liveth by G. F. Handel. If no good soprano can be found who can sing it, then let the sermon be the last word. I’ll be quite busy listening to better music, anyway.
In short, I want my funeral to be worshipful and evangelistic (no Finneyish altar call, thank you), as all funerals should be. I consider it my last chance to preach the gospel to friends and family, and I don’t want to waste it.
Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling;
Naked come to thee for dress,
Helpless, look to thee for grace:
Foul I to the fountain fly,
Wash me, Saviour, or I die.
What It Means to Be a Christian
What I Believe