The Book of Plans…
This has been a difficult week. A dear friend of ours called and asked if I would prepare a funeral service for his 98 year old mother who passed away this past Tuesday evening. I will deliver it Friday afternoon. And then, this afternoon, I received word that the father of another friend also transitioned to heaven this week. It is so sad that these two friends are going through the grieving process and, yet, those who believe in Christ and have gone on before us are truly in a better place – eternally – and without the pain, troubles, sorrows and disappointments that accompany this life.
In all honesty, I have done hundreds more weddings than I have funerals – in fact, Janet and I lived from the honorariums I received doing these significant life events all through my seminary years. Interestingly, 96% of pastors would rather do a funeral than a wedding because, and I’m serious about this, nobody complains at funerals.
We have all heard about bridezillas and I have certainly had my share of those. Many pastors don’t like to take criticism about the wedding ceremonies and they also don’t like to have their Friday and Saturday evenings taken up with rehearsals and weddings – and then have to do a church sermon on Sunday. So funerals are way ahead when it comes to pastoral preference.
Funerals are very special in their own way. They are the culmination of a final earthly event and represents one of the few times that heaven and earth seem to touch. Being present with someone during this transition can be a very sacred time. Funerals are also a time to invite people to give their lives to Christ – they seem to be more receptive in the setting of a graveside service.
The funeral I am conducting tomorrow is being held in a mausoleum that was built honoring the Masonic fraternity. Back when I was twenty-one, I joined the Masons and went through the process of becoming what is called a Scottish Rite Mason. I was honored to be led through the stages by Janet’s grandfather and the entire experience was very meaningful to me.
The Masonic fraternity is symbolically built on the idea of King Solomon’s Temple. There are various tools that represent different facets of the construction and building trades. As speculative masons, not literal masons, modern day Masons use the tools to remind them of important life themes and ways to conduct themselves. The architectural plans that every builder follows are represented by the Bible. In fact, I remember the day that I was presented with my book of plans – my Bible – as I became a Master Mason.
So, for a Christian, it can be very fitting to hold a funeral service in a Masonic venue. Especially for those of us who have been exposed to the fraternity throughout the years. But it’s not the fraternity that is nearly as important as the principles that are embodied in the brotherhood or sisterhood. The entire concept is based on biblical truth and fundamental ways to live a God centered life.
A person’s faith in Christ is foundational to what they believe happens when they pass from this earthly life. There are many verses that speak to some facet of the future when the Lord returns to rule forever. In the meantime, we have been told that Jesus will go ahead and prepare a place for us. Tonight’s verse is one of the most often used verses for funerals. The apostle John tells us the words of Jesus when discussing the coming life. He assures us that Jesus is in control by letting us know, in John 14:1-2 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.”
My encouragement tonight is that Jesus wants us to trust that we will be with Him for all eternity. In fact, our eternal lives start when we accept Christ as Lord and Savior – not when we pass from this earth to heaven. My prayer is that each of us can somehow find peace and hope during the times of our lives when we suffer from grief caused by the loss of loved ones. Our hope is in Christ. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…