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Dearly Beloved,

The subject people don’t want to talk about. 

No, I am not referring to “the talk” some parents wish to avoid having with their kids. I am referring to funerals and memorial services.

We are in a series of Dearly Beloveds on Christian ceremonies. One important ceremony is how we remember those who have died. We may not want to talk about it, but death does not just go away. Remembering our loved ones well is an opportunity we don’t want to miss.

Leading a memorial service is not a fun aspect of pastoral ministry, but I have found good celebrations of life to be among the most meaningful things I do. There are at least five beneficial aspects of a memorial service:

  1. They are occasions for comforting the grieving. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn.” In Romans it says, “mourn with those who mourn.” When a person dies we want to share in the loss with loved ones. Memorial services are opportunities to share sorrow, and in this way, to provide comfort.


  1. They are opportunities to remember and celebrate the life of the person who has passed on from this life. Having a memorial service is a statement that human life is important. People matter. By having a service to honour a loved one we affirm God’s plan of making us in His image. We celebrate the lives of those who mattered to us.


  1. They are events in which the community comes together. Few things unite people like coming together in hard times. Death is not the only kind of hard time, but it is a significant one. Sharing in loss builds community. Memorial services strengthen relationships.


  1. They are opportunities to proclaim the resurrection. One of the truths we must keep before us is the hope of life beyond the grave. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” John 11:25-26. One of my mentors, Marvin Hein, wrote a book of meditations on death. He states, “I have learned that the way one looks at death influences strongly one’s approach to life.” Believing in eternal life frees us to live fully, with hope and without fear. Memorial services are powerful reminders of the resurrection. Knowing we will live forever gives us courage to live this life well.


  1. They are occasions for witness. A memorial service is one more chance for the deceased to share their faith with others, particularly those most dear to them. Through tributes, songs, the message, and sharing stories, we hear once more about the one who passed, how they lived, their faith in Jesus, and their hope for eternity. A good memorial service is a witness of the gospel, both for those who know Jesus and those who don’t yet.


I have often been encouraged at memorial services. I have laughed and cried and been inspired and renewed my commitment to live fully for Jesus. I have seen others touched by the gospel too. 

Memorial services are significant Christian ceremonies. We may not want to talk about death, yet it is a reality in our fallen world. Unless Jesus returns first, all of us are going to die. Let’s seize the opportunity to have good and meaningful memorial services.

Pastor Lorne.