The church was decorated for Christmas, with the advent wreath and candles still displayed prominently, poinsettias lining the kneeling rail and a table sized Christmas tree brilliant with its white lights and bows and a beautiful Christmas bouquet prominently displayed. Someone thought that maybe the tree should be removed for the event, thinking it might be seen as a distraction from the somber nature of the service. But we decided otherwise since Christmas, celebrating the birth of the One who allowed us the opportunity for Eternity, actually was a great back-up for sending off to the heavenly realm this good man, husband and father.
The music leader, a gifted musician both with voice and instrument, did a wonderful job of combining the joy of Christmas with the thank you to God for the life of a man who provided for his family, worked hard and honestly and now earned his rest with God above in Heaven. And looking about the sanctuary, listening to the inspiring words of the pastor, and putting it all together in my mind, I knew that this funeral was representative of a life well lived, not something to be mourned, but something to be celebrated. And the best way to express that to those who wonder is using the titles of the two hymns that we sang this day, Because He Lives and When We All Get to Heaven.
In case you don't know those hymns I will quote just a few words from them. From the first, "Because He lives, I will live tomorrow" and from the second, "When we all get to heaven what a day of rejoicing it will be". You see, because Jesus came to earth as a God and a man, lived to teach us, counsel us and serve us through His life and death for us, we are afforded the opportunity to live forever with Him if we accept His gift of eternal life. And if we do, our life in heaven will be joyous beyond all imagination and it will be an amazing day of rejoicing when we arrive and see all those who we have missed for so long. And in the case of that good man whose life we celebrated today, he is finally home with the Father, shouting with joy as he has finally entered the Promised Land, where there is no longer pain, suffering and sorrow. Yes, mourn the passing, but rejoice knowing that he is now in a place where glory never ends.
The Christmas funeral: a day to celebrate indeed and his Christmas present was finally entering the realm that only belief in Jesus Christ can deliver. And now he really lives. Hallelujah!