May 17, 2007
Even in Death, It's All About God
The theology of Bob Webber's memorial service.
Last night I attended (and played the organ for) Bob Webber's memorial service. (You can read Bob's Christianity Today obit here.)
The memorial service was wonderful in many ways, but I want to point to one thing in particular. It wasn't about Bob.
Well, yes, it was about Bob, it couldn't help being about Bob, but as someone who has written a multitude of pages and taught innumerable students about worship, Bob insisted that his service focus on the great saving acts of God.
Here is part of what he wrote for the worship leaflet:
As a Christian I have always believed in Christ as the Victor over sin and death. I believe that Christ was the Second Adam, sent to this earth as God Incarnate, suffered death, was buried and rose from the dead to restore the entire creation. I believe that it is God who narrates the entire world and creation, from start to finish. Consequently I have no fear of death although I do fear the process.
Today, there are literally hundreds of different styles one can follow ... for a funeral. However, historic Christian funerals were always about God. I ... truly want [my own funeral] to be about God who created this world, defeated Satan at the cross and rose victorious over death and the grave.
Today we begin with several eulogies, then when those are done, the real funeral begins and it's all about God. I want my funeral to be a testimony to the God who raises us from hopelessness and blesses us with new life in Him. ...
And that is the way it was last night. As a large crowd of mourners packed into Christ Church of Oak Brook, we heard the eulogies first, and then we focused on God, remembering Christ's death and resurrection and looking forward to the marriage supper of the Lamb.
This is the way it should be, because there is no greater comfort than the gospel. Too often funerals play down the reality of death with sentimental poetry such as these lines from Shelley: "he is not dead, he doth not sleep -/ He hath awakened from the dream of life." We don't need romanticism, but redemption - especially at funerals.