Some of you may think it’s a bit morbid to plan my own burial on my blog. But I believe that death and dying has become a wrongly privatized affair. Christians must see death through the appropriate corporate, communal, and celebratory lenses. Christian death is an Easter celebration, an opportunity to rejoice at Christ’s victory over the grave. And this should be a public celebration – why do you think they publish obituaries in the newspaper? So here it is – out there for all the world to see!
I’ll be doing a three blog entries about my own burial service: Part 1, the Holy Scriptures, Part 2, the Music, Part 3, Miscellany.
Old Testament – Isaiah 25:6-9
“He will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth” (v 8).
This is my Easter hope and faith. That in Christ’s resurrection, death has been swallowed up and conquered forever. Therefore the shedding of tears will no longer be because of pain and death, but because of joy and mirth.
Psalm 95: 1-7
This is not an option listed in the Prayer Book; screw it. There are two pieces of scripture that I say every single day of my life. The Lord’s Prayer is one, and this is the other. This is the Venite, the portion of the psalter that opens up Morning Prayer and stirs my heart to prayer. I come before the Lord daily on my knees because he has molded the dry lands, and the heights of the hills are his also. We are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. And on that day, my own Easter day – that will be the day that I finally fully hearken to the voice of my Lord. Alleluia!
New Testament – I Corinthians 15:20-58
This is the classic Anglican New Testament reading for burials. And it is perfect for me. As a diabetic, I know just how perishable and corruptible this present body is. I am greatly looking forward to that day “when this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled; ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory'” (vv 53 – 53).
Gospel – Luke 24:13-34
That’s right, the road to Emmaus. Again, this is not an option listed in the Prayer Book. But if burial is an Easter celebration, why not read from the Easter stories? There is another element here. My life has been a journey – sometimes I don’t see God, sometimes I am talking with God and don’t even know it. But Jesus has been gracious enough to break bread for me, to open up his life to mine. With the disciples I can boldly proclaim, ‘The Lord has risen indeed!”