A couple of weeks ago, an acquaintance passed away. He was younger than me, and when that happens, I take notice. I was asked to preach his funeral service and did so gladly. Jesus specifically said, “No one is good but God.” But if there was a good guy around at all, this guy was him.
After his death, my weekly e-letter went out as usual the following Friday morning. Later in the day, I checked my e-mail for any responses. There are usually a few. Some write to agree with what I said, some to disagree. Occasionally, someone will call me a jerk and unsubscribe. Sure enough, there were a few responses to my publication. One in particular caught my attention.
E-Mail From Beyond
I saw it right away, because it was from the guy who had died (before the e-letter came out, mind you). I’m pretty sure I’ve never received an e-mail from beyond the grave, so I was eager to check it out. The subject line announced, “Auto reply from John Doe.” (I’ve changed the name to protect the innocent.) The first line informed me that “John Doe is no longer affiliated with Company XYZ.” (Another name change…)
Before I went any further, I chuckled and thought to myself, “They’ve got that right.” As I read further, the memo informed me that, if I had any questions, I could e-mail Jack Sprat (another fictitious name). Then it presented me with a phone number if my preference was to call.
That line gave me pause. I felt an inordinate urge to call the number and ask them if they’d like to know with whom he was currently affiliated. I resisted the impulse, however, and it soon passed. Besides that, I figured someone from that company would be present at the service, and I could fill them in at that time. So I did.
As services of death and resurrection go, this one was one of the more celebrated and moving ones in which I had ever participated (or attended, for that matter). The music was powerful, the tributes and memories from the family were poignant, meaningful, and appropriately humorous; and the place was packed with family, friends, and well-wishers. It was a standing-room-only situation, and the Spirit of God was strongly felt.
I had the opportunity to share my e-mail from the great beyond, which was good for a laugh from the congregation. Then I told them of John’s current affiliation. It was one he made a long time ago, but it was an everlasting one. It was sealed in the blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and no e-mail was needed to confirm it.
Funerals can be very sad, or they can be glorious. This one was the latter. It celebrated the life of a saint, and, more importantly, it glorified the One with whom he now resides. I was surprised at how life-changing a service it was. Sometimes, this is just a job. Other times, like now, it’s mystical.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]