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Young Dudes Must Preach at Funerals

January 22, 2011

It is a unique blend of honor and misfortune to preach at a funeral.  Though I have not performed the ceremony of nearly as many memorials as most preachers, I am currently within a span of ten days in which I will preach at three different services.  Each will and have proven to be significant and special.  However I believe that there is a common bond of privilege and sadness within each.  As a young preacher I have come to embrace this rare combination of pain and hope as a necessary piece of my own spiritual formation and as a instrumental part of my development as a herald of Christ.

Often within this guppie stage of ministry I am inclined to see things as black and white.  A particular message may bring a specific kind of passion out of me and another a particular angst.  Usually I can determine whether a specific Scripture should be delivered with joy or sorrow; indictment or encouragement; “come on man!” or “atta boy”.  Actually I pride myself in this.

Curiously preaching at funerals are never as clear to me.  I am honored to have been asked to speak from the Word in the midst of such a trying time.  It is humbling to be called upon by a grieving family for gospel encouragement.  Combined with such a humbling honor is the stark reality of death and loss.  Funerals are not simply times for celebrating as many Americans would like to believe.  Death is hard, painful, evil, sad, complicated, frustrating, and inevitable.  So while I am honored to preach the hope of Christ, I am also pained and sobered by the reality of death.

This is a very good thing.  Every gospel message should be laced with the tension of life and death.  The complexity which is clear at funerals must be clearly felt in every sermon.  Unfortuantely the tension is more vivid in a house of mourning.  Perhaps this is why Solomon said it was better to be in that house rather than a party house.  Truth is more apparent.

I would encourage any young preacher to preach at funerals, as often as you have the misfortune, so that every message we preach may be more aptly seasoned with the reality sin and the grace of God.

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