Several months ago, I was asked to perform a funeral service at a local funeral home that I work with consistently. They invite me to do services for people that are not a part of a faith community and want a pastor to perform the service. To me, it is a loving opportunity to be involved in the lives of people that are dealing with loss and pain.
But when the funeral director asked me to perform the service, he let me know that there would not be anyone attending the service. I was shocked. I had to ask him if he meant that it would only be family and that no one else would be there. To which he responded by saying that no one, not even family would be there for the service. The individual served in the Air Force and there was going to be military honors and the presentation of a flag but the flag was going to be given to the funeral director. I have been involved in quite a few funeral services where there were only a few people there but never a service where NO ONE was there. I have to be honest it was very upsetting and I was not sure what to do with this at all.
That meant I needed to think and pray. After a day or two, I really felt like this was an opportunity for our community of faith to respond. I invited people through a video on our Facebook page to come and join me at the service for a man who at the end of his life was going to have no one show up. Then I forged ahead preparing the service for the man that had no one coming to his funeral service.
My amazing wife made sure that she was going to be there with me for the service. We got to the funeral home about thirty minutes before the service to make sure we had everything planned with the honor guard and the funeral director. Then at about fifteen minutes before the service was to start people from Elevation started to join us at the funeral home for the service for a man that had no one coming. By the time we started the service, there were twenty-five people sitting quietly in the chapel and not one of those people knew the man that the service was for.
The honor guard did an amazing job and presented the flag for this serviceman to my wife. As I sat there and looked at her from the front of the chapel, I saw tears begin to run down her face. She later told me that she was overwhelmed at the thought that this serviceman who had served our country and was someone’s son had no one show up for his funeral. I also was overwhelmed by emotion and had a difficult time presenting the service but my emotion came from seeing the people of Elevation come to a funeral service for a man that none of them knew.
For me, it was an amazing picture of the love of Jesus being shared through the sacrifice of the people of Elevation to show up at a funeral for someone that no one else was going to show up. Here is my question to you, who is going to show up at your funeral and why are they going to be there? I have no idea who this man was and I have no idea why there was no one there. But I do believe it is a moment that can help us see how we are living our lives and how we treat people and how we can be the ones that care for the people around us.
I do want to share my appreciation for the people of Elevation that came to that funeral and for being a community of faith that cares at all times.