Sunday, July 13, 2014

I Will Sing My Alleluias Through Tears, If You Don't Mind (A Post Inspired by an Essay by a Lutheran Minister)

I remember feeling quite offended, yet not knowing what to say, when someone at my father's funeral (2008) asked how I was, and I said it was a sad time for me, and she replied, "But it's also a time to celebrate."  I said I didn't feel like celebrating and her look said I had no faith.

Away with your blankety-blank celebrations!  What is this insistence that you must always feel good and so must I, lest I bring you down?  How narcissistic.  Or is it that you simply cannot face death head on?

Let's really, honestly, look at what has happened here!  Let's acknowledge that tragedy can and does happen.  And let's respect a mourner's legitimate grief.  Jesus wept when His friend died, and this was even though He knew He was about to resurrect Lazarus.  As my friend Deb Dillon wrote on this same subject, alluding to the Book of Ecclesiastes, there is a time to laugh and there is a time to weep

The program at my father's funeral was titled, "A Celebration of the Life and Resurrection of _________”.  I'll celebrate my Dad's resurrection, thank you,  when it happens - on the Last Day. That's assuming he and I both do in fact find ourselves on the joyous side of that new life.


Matushka Anna said...


Even though I know my three babies are in heaven, I weep because I miss them. Do not take away a mourner's right to grieve. These "celebration of life" thingies and the attitude that accompanies them come from a desire to avoid the discomfort of watching someone grieve. Our grieving "puts people out" and makes them uncomfortable. Therefore it should be avoided. Balderdash!

Elizabeth @ The Garden Window said...

Amen to *everything* you have said, Anastasia.
Yesterday was the five year anniversary of the death of my beloved godmother, the Presvytera Cecilia. I mourn because I love her and miss her.
I am glad she is at rest after a long and painful illness and I pray that we will see each other again one day, but I miss her greatly.

Unknown said...


Well said.

The Orthodox funeral service, except for when it may occur during Bright Week and features a lot of "Christ is Risen"s, is remarkably poignant on what the reality of death is, the tragedy that it is and why we must endure it. Some people, outside of the Orthodox faith, criticize it because it lacks the hope of life eternal in Christ. I say to them that the Orthodox funeral service is not the final word on the subject of death, but it is one that we cannot and should not avoid. Death is tragic and mournful. We are lost in the darkness of our own sins. There will be a Resurrection, for Christ has promised this to us...but not today, not yet.--Chris

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Three babies in heaven - oh, Matushka!

Unknown said...

What happens to us when we grieve for a loved one who has died is laden with so much emotion that even Christians loose sight of what is right and proper. I remember when I first heard the song, “Take Me”, from Les Misérables, when Jean Valjean asks God to take him instead of the gravely wounded Marius. Was Jean Valjean willing to take the punishment of going to heaven in place of his daughter’s friend? I had not so learned Christ.
Both among the Orthodox, Roman Catholics, and Lutherans it is a popular belief that our Lord grieved for his friend, Lazarus, when Scripture records that He wept. There are two verbs which describe our Lord’s emotions in the verse just preceding the one that says He wept. I have looked at every occurrence of these verbs, ἐμβριμάομαι and ταράσσω, in the NT (something that is easy to do today, using Strong’s Concordance online), and I find not a single instance in which these words mean or imply “grieving”. If anything, ἐμβριμάομαι implies anger or indignation.
Our Lord did not give any signs of grieving for several days, knowing that His friend was dead. Why should He suddenly succumb to grief a few minutes before resurrecting Lazarus? We should remember that this entire sequence of events is not about Lazarus, his sisters, the Jews or the mourners. Our Lord tells us what it is all about two days before He decided to walk to Bethany, by which time Lazarus was already dead for two days. John 11:4, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Then, just before raising Lazarus, He said, John 11:41, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that You sent me.” Grieving is not part of the equation here.
Our Lord wept because He knew He would bring suffering to His friend; He was going to bring him back from the place of eternal bliss into, quite literally, the vale of tears. The Gospel turns our reality and our fundamental beliefs upside down. This becomes clear when, on the evening of His own death, our Lord told His Apostles, John 14:28. “… if you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father …” But the fact is that we are incapable of loving “the Lord our God with all your heart and with all our soul and with all our might,” and therefore we grieve.
The time of death is a somber time. I cannot see myself urging people to celebrate the occasion, even though I know that the Orthodox requiem is more of a celebration than a ceremony of grieving. In Russian one “sings off” the dearly departed. But grief is a sign of our sinful nature, because, if we believe what our Christian faith teaches, the saint who has departed is vastly better off than he was here on earth. We should rejoice, but we grieve because of our loss; we grieve for ourselves. Our Lord forgives us our grief, even when we claim that it is worthy.
Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

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