Tuesday, January 02, 2007

And a Note on Funerals

I know it's a little presumptuous to set oneself up as a funeral critic -- but I have to say that, in my humble opinion, Gerald Ford's funeral was a funeral done well. And not just because "For All the Saints," one of my very favorite hymns and my hymn of choice for my own funeral, was included in the service.

As our society loses its ritual touchstones, I think we risk losing our ability to embue funerals with both the gravitas and the message that they need -- and I fear that this is as true in Christian circles as others. I think in many quarters funerals are confused with wakes -- subjective, self-referential, eulogy-heavy sendoffs that neglect "the hope that is in us" as followers of the risen Christ. Or else funerals are demoted to aggressive Christian sales pitches to a captive audience; I was once unfortunate enough to be present at one of these, the funeral of an unchurched individual where the frowny-faced preacher strongly intimated that if the rest of us didn't get right with God then and there, we'd wind up where the deceased maybe kind of probably was spending eternity.

Anyway -- I appreciated Ford's funeral liturgy. I appreciated the music. I appreciated the fact that the service was a celebration of Ford not only or even primarily as a statesman, but as a beloved child of God, sibling of Christ, one who placed his hope in Christ and now takes his place with the saints in light.

3 comments:

Cathy said...

LC - I am glad you blogged/posted this -- I thought Gerald Ford's funeral was beautiful. I think it is a reflection of who he was and who his family is. I have a deep respect for he and his family.

Quotidian Grace said...

I wish I had said it so well.

Anonymous said...

I didn't see the funeral, but I watched the procession through Washington, and it was--appropriate. Nothing flashy or fancy or overdone (as I felt Reagan's was). One stop at the WWII memorial, where he (a Navy veteran) was piped aboard one last time, and saluted by the Eagle Scouts (only Eagle Scout in the White House, ever), and then to the Capitol. Period.

Lovely.