In great anticipation of one of the most polarizing television experiences, America and the church community at large sat with anticipation, intrigue and in some circles presumptive disgust. How could the ‘best funeral’ entail an urn going for a bumper car ride?
Last night, The Best Funeral Ever debuted to stunned millions across America. Today, recovery from one of the most dubious displays of death care begins. Funeral professionals are both decrying the televised “buffoonery” and secretly scrambling to compete with one of America’s foremost funeral firms.
The show was full of flagrant firsts, who celebrates Christmas at a funeral? Social media is still ablaze from the scattered embers of television sets exploding and being tossed out of homeowners’ windows. There’s not a facebook timeline lengthy enough to display the incendiary comments all over facebook, twitter, text messages emails or message boards.
Among them, one viewer quipped “Is that (a church) in Grand Prairie?” Every Saturday at around noon or 11 am and even as late as 3 or 4 pm, families and friends gather to say their final farewell to loved ones in a church. There are two things in Texas you absolutely need a license for: funerals (the committal) and weddings. There is also a great expectation that both of those occasions will take place in a church regardless of one's membership status.
After seeing some of the ostentatious displays on “The Best Funeral Ever”, the question remains, could your church host one? Funerals are more sacred than celebratory; there is an undeniably ethereal connection with death. The famous scene at the grave told of Jesus’ resurrection, when the women were confronted by an angel asking them “why seek ye the living among the dead? (Lk.24:5) as the women were there to anoint Jesus’ body for final burial.
Let the dead bury the dead
What can be said of some of the more gaudy celebrations of life? What about the New Orleans traditions that paraded the deceased around their neighborhood en route to the cemetery? Second Line music and dancing are as much a part of sad funerals as flowers, life insurance policies and the oversell. Funerals are more a celebration of death than life. Local funerariums began offering similar services complete with marching bands. The packages never quite picked up but are still offered at a few local funeral homes.
Echoing from the pulpit is this sentiment: “funerals are for the living!” With that being said, what’s the fuss? What if a family wanted to bring a Christmas themed “celebration of life” to your church? What possible objection could there be, live animals? Well, I’m sure that’s a health code “issue” somewhere, but other than that what issues stand in the way?
The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is torn about this,in lieu of the thousands of traditional funerals performed by the Golden Gate Funeral Home each year. Who determines what is “appropriate” at the time of grief? There’s the obvious, "no tipping of the 40’s" and the foul language rule. but what else? If these prove to be the family’s wishes, would a church really be justified in declining one of the ‘Best Funeral’s Ever’?