Yesterday I attended my first "Zoom" funeral. The service was for Rena Richardson, a member of another church I had served. Rena was a sweetheart and she exemplified all that was good about being "a southern lady." As a part of the service, friends had been asked to share memories which the pastor presiding over the service read. The pastor then shared some comforting words -- honoring Rena's life and proclaiming the hope we have in Jesus Christ. Now, I know Rena was not perfect, none of us are, but it was not hard for her pastor to say good things about Rena's life.
A few years ago, I was asked by Rob Lawrence, one of our church members, to preside over the funeral service for his mother. She had lived in a town in the mountains of north Georgia, right next to the Tennessee state line. It was to be a graveside service at a beautiful cemetery outside of town where many members of her family had been buried. I arrived about an hour before the service and stopped in town. Across from where I parked my car was a gift shop. It had a wide range of items, but what caught my eye was a display of small signs - the kind you might hang from a doorknob or place on a bookshelf. One sign which had a green and tan background with black stenciled letters said this: "Live your life so that the preacher won't have to lie at your funeral."
Now as far I can remember I have never had to lie at a funeral about the life of the person who has died. On a few rare occasions I chose to leave out some things that were true, but I have not had to lie. Actually, one of the blessings of being a pastor and walking with a family who has lost a loved one is hearing stories about the life of the person who has died. It is a real privilege to listen and share those remembrances with others later at the service. So, may we all "practice righteousness" and live our lives in ways that honor God!