I have a funeral today, Wednesday, March 2, 2022 – Ash Wednesday. This will be the third funeral I’ve conducted this week.
I face death regularly. It’s part of the job. Some humorist has said that the job of the pastor is to “Marry and Bury.” It’s a life of dealing with the “wed and the dead.”
Ash Wednesday is a reminder of death. The ashes used on Ash Wednesday are meant to represent dust. When receiving ashes on their foreheads, they hear the words, “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19).
Thanks, but no thanks, for the reminder. We don’t like to be reminded of, to think about, death. So we say just about anything to avoid saying the d-word:
- Kicked the bucket
- Six feet under
- Bought the farm
- Pushing up daisies
- Passed away
- Restin in peace
I get it. Death is hard to face. So to help us face it, we actually wear the reminder on our face.
And that reminder is a good thing. Knowing that I will die motivates me to live a fuller life.
After a funeral, I’m typically:
- more “alive” – more aware of the beauty of all around me and its fragility.
- more grateful
- more affectionate
- more loving
- more here, now.
My senses are sharpened. Living with an awareness of death can make my living more loving.
We don’t like to face death because we fear the loss brought by death. Yes, there is loss, but there is also gain. “To die is to gain” (Philippians 1:21), Paul reminds us. It’s a trade. And it’s a trade up.
So, I’m off to this funeral. And I will return to a fuller life.