This week I did a funeral and a wedding as a pastor of Woodward Avenue Bapitst Church (Hereafter WABC). What struck me is that one is usually planned well in advance while the other is somewhat unexpected. One is anticipated with excitement, the other is dreaded. What I’d like to suggest is that… for the believer… both weddings and funerals should be viewed with the same joy and anticipation. WHAT? I guess I need to explain that.
For Christians, death is required for our wedding celebration because it takes place in heaven with Jesus. Since I cannot see Jesus unless I die, then I should look forward to the event (Not the process that leads to the event mind you) that ushers me into his presence. Paul encourages as much in Colossians 3:1-4 where he wrote that we are to set our hearts and minds on heaven where Jesus is and not keep them focused on our mortal existence.
I’ve done countless weddings during my ministry and I can say a few things about every one of them. First, not once have I ever seen an ugly bride. Second, every groom is nervously excited to see his bride. Third, the people in attendance are always happy (Sometimes crying with joy). Fourth, weddings are always a reason to celebrate.
No one at weddings think about funerals. And yet, every funeral should make Christians think about THE wedding celebration that will take place in heaven! It is significant that Jesus’ first miracle was at a wedding when he turned the water into wine. In so doing, he continued a party going that could have been a disaster. Jesus performed another great miracle at a funeral when He raised Lazarus from the dead. Christ brought celebration to what otherwise was a time of mourning.
And that is the way it is for Christians. At funerals we sing because we do not grieve like the rest of the world that has no hope. At weddings we cry with joy as we look forward to when we will see Jesus and never leave His presence. We do the same things at both weddings and funerals… we sing and we cry. Both are expressions of worship that are rooted and grounded in our hope and expectation of seeing Jesus in the not too distant future.
Soon you may find yourself at a wedding. Let that be an occasion to project yourself into eternity when you will sit at the wedding feast of The Lamb. Soon you may find yourself at a funeral. Let that be also an occasion to project yourself into eternity where all your pain, tears, hurts, and troubles will have been redeemed.
Plan now for the funeral that will lead to a wedding feast in glory! Live now for Christ so that when you stand before Him you will be able to say that you have kept the faith… you have run the race with endurance… you have finished the course. The funeral you are planning for is your own… and that’s not meant to be morbid or depressing. It is intended to give you impetus to live life to the fullest for God’s glory!
Whether a wedding or a funeral… they both remind me of Jesus’ great power… awesome love… and abounding grace. Whichever I find myself at does not matter… BOTH are occasions for comfort, joy, and celebration as I keep my mind and heart in glory where Jesus is.