Several years ago a movie called "Wedding Crashers" was released. The plot involved two men who regularly "crashed" wedding receptions in order to meet young, single women. They made up a story, and often became the life of the party. Their agreed-upon rule was that the enjoyment was only allowed to last for one night. (I do not recommend seeing this movie.) The plot took a major turn when the two men met two women who inspired their continued interest and attention...
I have an idea for another movie with a similar theme. The movie would be called, "Funeral Crashers." Two middle-aged bachelors live with their mothers. They scour the obituaries in their town in order to find a free meal and something to do. These low-lifes make up a story, shed a few tears, pay their respects, and always stay for the funeral luncheon. These guys live for German potato salad, ham, buns, and baked beans. Everything changes, however, when at a funeral (of all places) they meet two middle-aged women who know how to cook, and arouse their devotion and affection...
The idea of "crashing" a party means to attend an event that you are not invited to. Common etiquette says that you don’t go to a wedding unless you are invited, and it also seems that we don’t normally attend a funeral service unless we know someone who is there.
But maybe there is a reason to rethink this.
As the world becomes increasingly secular, less people are attending funeral services. Even people with a personal connection to the deceased do not include their attendance at the service a priority. Let’s face it; if people don’t have a connection to the church, it is unlikely that they will want to come to the service. My question is, "Will the church members pick up the slack?"
There is an even better reason to attend the funeral service than to "stack the pews" or to make sure there is a "full house." It is a way to serve the grieving persons in our congregation by surrounding them with our prayers. We have a duty to our brothers and sisters in Christ. When we commune at the table with them we are really saying, "We are one in Christ. We will be there when you need us and you will be there when we need you." This pledge may also include our presence with them during their time of need. If we share the cup together, should we not also share in their tragedy?
I have conducted funerals in our congregation where barely a member of the congregation showed up. While some of the people that I bury have little or no connection to the life of our congregation; nonetheless, it still doesn’t seem quite right.
Funeral hymns can be hard for grieving people to sing. The words can bring a flood of emotions. Might you comfort the mourners as you surround them with your singing? Might you pray for them then and there? Might your presence there let them know that this congregation cares for each other?
There is an additional kickback benefit. (No, not a free meal.) It is an opportunity to hear the word of God and reflect on our own mortality. Funeral sermons can be some of the most meaningful and comforting sermons preached. I know of one person at a local church who has endeavored to come to hear the preaching during funerals at our church. "Sometimes," he says, "I just need a good funeral sermon."
My brother and sister-in-law recently moved to a new town. Though they do not yet know everyone in their congregation, there is commendable custom that is part of their piety. As they are able, they dress up and attend the funeral services together as a family. It’s a way that they confess to the people in their congregation that they are one with them in their need.
"Therefore," Paul said, "as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith." Galatians 6:10