Friday, December 03, 2010

I stepped back in time today.

Attending a funeral in a Baptist church, I heard a choir sing a Southern Gospel song, a pianist play a medley of several more, sang two songs from the Baptist hymnal, and heard a retired pastor bring an expository message that called upon the hearer to be saved.

I loved it.

Right here I pause to let a few of you clean off the screens of your phone, tablet, or laptop. Sorry, I should have warned you.

But I did. I loved it.

The person the funeral honored would have too.

First, he would have noticed I was wearing a suit. That's kind of a big deal for me.

Then he'd have been crazy about the music. He loved hymns and gospel music. The choir assembled from the base chapel sang "Midnight Cry" like they believed Jesus was coming tonight. The congregation sang "It Is Well With My Soul" like they had inside information. Even the mighty organ was contributing its deep bass voice. He'd have liked that

And the retired former pastor sharing from his heart about what his friend lying in rest was all about in genuine love and humor made me thank God for the job God gave him and gave me. Friend, to be asked to "say a few words" at a funeral is an honor, regardless of for whom. But to be able to stand before a congregation and tell them what your friend's life meant - meant to you, meant to his church, meant to his family, meant to God - well I have heard this pastor preach several times, even shared responsibilities at funerals with him a couple times, and he has never been better. He had a pacemaker installed two days ago and when I went up after to tell him what a great job he did, I asked him if he had that pacemaker set on "11."

The fellow who was honored today didn't like the changes in the church. He never connected to contemporary music, liked his pastors in suits and behind pulpits. And yet, the most moving part of the service was the use of the video projector (which he opposed) to show pictures from his life, and the airing of a recording of him singing. At the end of it, we heard his voice asking us to sing along with him, and weakly at first, but then stronger, the congregation did. I've gotta believe he was smiling as we carried his music forward even after he was gone.

Here's the deal. In that context, with a group of people where the non-gray head was the exception, even though the event was a funeral - the focus was on God. On praising Him, on giving thanks to Him, on examining one man's life and how he lived it and why it mattered. It mattered because he gave it to God without reservation. So when that group today was grabbed by the Holy Spirit the whole congregation responded in praise. When the preacher was grabbed by that same Spirit he preached his heart out. It was one of the best funerals I have ever attended and I get to a few in my line of work.

Yep, I went back in time today and I loved it.

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