I went to a Buddhist funeral yesterday. Some details aren't necessary, but it was definitely different from any other funeral I've ever been to. I didn't understand a lot of what happened, what was said, or any of that. What I did understand was that people came to pay respects to the family and to mourn the loss of a friend and relative.
I'll be honest and say that I felt stupid for most of the time I was there. I couldn't participate in the ceremony because I lacked understanding of the language and I also felt that I should hold back because I don't have Buddhist beliefs. I didn't know what to say to the family; I sort of bumbled my way through some words of comfort, not really knowing what I was saying or how I should be feeling. Some aspects of the funeral were similar to what I've experienced at other funerals: flowers, gifts for the family, a general atmosphere of sadness. Some aspects were different: monks, chanting, and incense, to name a few. The biggest difference, though, was that there was no joy. No hope. Anywhere.
Prior to yesterday, I've only been to funerals for people who were Christians. With those kinds of funerals, mourning and sadness are evident, definitely, but at the same time there really is an element of joy. Instead of "funeral service" I've heard it called a "celebration of life" or something of the sort. For Christians, there really is a reason to celebrate, despite the sadness we feel over death. We know that death is not the end. We know hope. We have hope.
I've heard all of this before, and you probably have too. It really stood out to me yesterday, though. There is joy in having hope. There is encouragement in having hope. And it's very difficult to comfort someone knowing that that same hope is not in his/her life.
On the ride home last night, I repeatedly listened to the same song for probably 30-45 minutes straight. It's by Matt Maher, called "Christ is Risen." It's a really fabulous song about Christ's resurrection - if you have a moment, please listen to it:
After maybe the third time of listening to this song, the message started to sink in a little more. "Christ has risen from the dead!" "Come awake - come and rise up from the grave!" Awake. AWAKE.
We should be celebrating Christ's resurrection every single day. We should be awake, remembering the cost that God himself paid so that we might have a way to come to him. What a great cost it was! Why am I not spending more of my time telling others about this? Why do I still seem to fall asleep, forgetting that I have been redeemed and called to serve such a great God? Christ is ALIVE. Because he lives, I live. I am dead to sin because Christ is alive within me. That hope is within me.
I wanted to share these thoughts with you because I think they are really important (and thus I didn't want to keep them to myself). Remember where you came from and where you are now; remember that you have been set free and that you have been given hope.
I hope that you will not only remember, but that you will share that hope. The world really, really needs to hear about it.