Saturday, November 12, 2011

Return to Sender

I think you all know what I think about "celebrations of life" at funeral homes.  If not, then think of the most disgusting and irritating thing you know.  That will about do it for me.  Anyway, I encountered this little anecdote about customizing the funeral arrangements.  I know you will appreciate it, too!

Seems as if a funeral home in California embarked upon an aggressive marketing campaign to sell caskets:  they would “custom design” caskets!  An ardent fisherman, for instance, could have a casket fashioned as a fishing boat; a golfer, one like a cart, and so on.

The best seller, however, turned out to be a casket made to look like a heavy cardboard shipping box, actually wrapped in packaging paper, and tied with cord for mailing.  Stamped boldly around the package-like casket were the words:  RETURN TO SENDER.

From dust we came, to dust we shall return.  Even if you don't like it, you cannot prevent it.  Best to be prepared for it.  And that is why Jesus has come!  That we may be returned to sender as that which He recognizes as His very own -- once in creation and then in redemption.  Notice the red ink.  The blood makes it all possible... Ahhhh, the sermons you can make out of nothing at all!!!


Irenaeus said...

A decent save with the analogy, Father. However, there might seem to be a negative side, as well: "Return to Sender" oftentimes implies something defective or unwanted. While, again, one could "sermon-ize" on the defective aspect of our humanity, the amazing nature of grace tells us that God actually desires us. From my perspective, then, its best no to try to trump the message of the Gospel with cutesy gimmicks and bumper sticker slogans.

Janis Williams said...

As Dr. Rod Rosenbladt says, "Christianity is about dying."

I love the Lutheran hymns that speak of a good death, a death in the Faith. The Evangelical church is too concerned with your best life now to even think about the life to come.

Rev. Allen Bergstrazer said...

Pastor Peters, I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees the irony in having a celebration of life with a corpse laying right in front of everyone. So much of what passes for a funeral today gives the participants the impression that death is just an unlucky happenstance instead of brutal inevitability. And so instead of comfort and peace you get pretentions and psuedo-spiritual bromides.

Terry Maher said...

A casual friend of mine recently died suddenly of a heart attack and one of these "celebration of life" things was held for him at a church two days ago.

The problem isn't that there's no comfort and peace, but that there is. The message not only of Christianity but of any religion in particular is entirely absent, those being just various ways in which various cultures and ages have dealt with death, none of them essential to the basic reality.

Which is, we will all meet on the "other side" and those still here meet to give their remembrances of the departed, share pictures from the departed's life, have a meal to-gether, and not cloud things up with any religious stuff from the past. In that mindset, there is nothing missing. We know there is, but they don't and find these things a source of comfort and peace.

One might say, it's what becomes of the Gospel when there is no Law.

John said...

Maybe it's better "Return to Sender" than "All dressed up and no place to go".

I know! I know! All go to one of two places upon death. I still like it.