If you happen to know me and love me, do not panic.
I am hale and hearty. As I often tell my children, I plan on living to the age of ninety. Ninety is a good number. If I get there and things are going well, maybe I'll hang on a few more years.
Guess what? I don't get to decide. The Lord knows the number of our days.
Oh that is such solace!
But I'll tell you this: we have had too many funerals this year. At each one, I wondered: would the person have liked their own funeral? I know these ceremonies are for those who mourn.
And yet. The funeral should be a tribute, a lovely frame to show the beauty of a life.
I have warned my kids - if you don't sing hymns at my funeral, I will sit up in my casket and shake my fist at you.
Not to scare them or anything. I just feel very strongly about hymns.
So kids, here are the details. For one, because I doubt I'll be looking very pretty at ninety, it's closed casket. You heard it here. With just a few pictures of me - one or two as a child and young woman, one current. Oh thank Jesus that He knows exactly what "current" will be!
Not too many flowers. I love pink roses, but otherwise, I prefer fresh flowers from the garden (if anything is blooming).. I'd rather you donate any gifts to whatever missionaries I'm supporting at the time. If you aren't sure where to donate, Wycliffe Bible Translators is a good choice. Also, maybe set up a small fund to help Northwestern students pay off their parking violations. Not kidding. Those poor kids get slammed with too many fees.
Then, guys, I don't want a lot of talking or tributes or long sermons. Tell me now how much you love me. Tell me now what I've done right or wrong, and what needs forgiving, and what has been forgiven. Tell me now what you remember about the way I raised you to love God and His Word. And if I didn't do that enough, tell me that too. Remember that your Dad and I are raising your baby brother, we have a bit of a chance for a do-over.
So, short sermon it is.. By someone who knows me, so probably not an Open Door pastor, as much as I love the teaching there. Mike McCabe, if he outlives me. Or one of you, if you feel up to it.
I have a lot of favorite verses, but my life verse has always been Psalm 16:11, "Thou wilt show me the path of life, in Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand are pleasures forevermore." Otherwise, pick whatever you like. Scripture abounds with words of life and victory.
And after the very short "talk," not too preachy, a hymn sing.
Yep, all hymns. For quite awhile, since I have so many favorites, so you'll need a good song leader. Amanda Ellison will probably still have the voice of an angel so she can do it. Or Falicia if she's not too famous by then. You know how I adore folk and bluegrass. So that vibe would be better than pointlessly loud. But - whatever you decide is fine. Basically this is my only chance to pick the worship songs at a service, something I've longed to do. And although right now I'd choose a few current songs, what I love best, deep in my soul, are the rich words and melodies of older hymns. The truth in them has been bedrock for me.
Here's a list off the top of my head. I might tweak it later.
How Firm a Foundation
Oh For a Thousand Tongues to Sing
How Great Thou Art
All Creatures of Our God and King
Come Thou Fount
If people are getting bored, you can call it a day.
Otherwise, you can continue with:
It Is Well with My Soul
Be Thou My Vision
I'm sure I'll think of more later.
A hymn sing by a lake would be perfect.
A final hymn, family only, at the grave site would also be nice.
A few more details:
Bury me and Dad together
I used to like the idea of cremation, but now I'm not sure. Jesus wasn't cremated. So if funds allow, let me return to dust the old-fashioned way.
And finally, be sad, be as sad as you want to be. Jesus was sad when his friend died. We aren't made to die, although we are born to die. We are made to live. And I plan to live a long, long time yet, probably annoying you and blessing you and serving you and needing you, for as many years as God wills.
I love you all to pieces.
(But I'm serious about the hymns).
This is the song I've been singing most these days. The words are sound and true, the melody is fresh and lovely. C'mon and sing along with me!