Sunday, December 30, 2012
The seeming solution cremation provides...
Pastors are prone to the problem more than others. I have lived away from my childhood home for more than four decades. My wife is in the same boat. Where we now live is not the place that either of us think of when we think "home" (no disrespect to either congregation or community). My wife's family will all be buried in Northern Indiana and mine in Northeastern Nebraska. But what about us?
It is no wonder that many choose cremation -- it either postpones or eliminates the problem of where the remains will make their final resting place. The remains have become as nomadic as the people they were in life. Children and spouses carry the urns and ashes with them on some strange journey that seems to have no destination.
I have twice been called to the home of a deceased member to counsel the family on what to do with urns and ashes found while cleaning up the loose ends of a parent who died or was rendered helpless by mental fragility. "What do we do with these?" Ahhh, that is the question. And that is the weakness of the choice of cremation. It is often merely the deferral of a larger question to another time and another person. "What do we do with these?" Indeed. What DO we do with them?
It is even Scriptural -- here we have no abiding city -- not in life or in death. Always in transit. Yet this is itself a part of the problem of grief and the way we face up to death. It is easier to believe in the journey than the destination. So we cremate without knowing what to do with the remains. Then we have a celebration of life (instead of a funeral) to make us feel better about it all. In both cases the emphasis is on the trip and not on the destination.
It would seem to me that that is precisely why we need the funeral, why we need to have this journey placed in larger context, and why we need to find a way to reverently dispose of the bodily remains even as we find our comfort and consolation in Christ who died that we might live and who lives to bring us with Him to heaven and eternity....