A Funeral Full of Joy
It isn’t very often that you walk out of a funeral feeling happy.
That my wife and I did so, along with many others, is remarkable. Had I not been there, I might not have believed what a good time attendees had.
The service (or celebration, as several family members put it) commemorated the passing of a longtime pastor at 85.
Cledith Sr., who died, didn’t embrace his first name. Thus, he wound up with the nickname of Dickie.
So, it was curious he named his oldest son Cledith Jr. The younger became known as Bub.
Bub was our pastor for six years before we left the area. When we returned 12 years later, we joined the church our youngest daughter attends.
However, Bub and I still have lunch on occasion. When I asked him recently about meeting for that reason, he Facebooked back a note saying he couldn’t make it.
His father had fallen and fractured his skull, and had to be moved into hospice care.
“He needs a miracle or he is beginning his journey to heaven,” Bub wrote.
Cledith Sr. died about a day later. Fortunately, my work schedule was flexible enough that I could take time off to attend his funeral the following Monday morning.
It was so uplifting that we left with a smile on our faces. Indeed, when 2019 passes into memory, I will list it as one of the highlights of the year.
As funerals go, it was long: more than an hour. But the time passed so quickly we wouldn’t have minded if it had lasted longer.
Sure, there were choked voices and tears at the funeral as family members recalled his passing.
But there were also smiles and expressions of gratitude for the gospel this man had proclaimed and taught his five children.
There was plenty of music too. Upbeat, joyful, hand-clapping praise and worship.
At one point, Cledith Sr.’s grandson led the singing; his two sisters and mother were among the half-dozen worshipers on the platform.
A Legacy of Life
Various family members preached during their trips to the microphone.
Between the music so many played a part in and the gospel messages they delivered, it was easy to see the kind of legacy Cledith Sr. had left behind.
At one point, Bub—whose church hosted the funeral—talked about what a good time they enjoyed as a family.
He recalled the time an onlooker remarked, “I’ve never seen a family that has such a good time where alcohol isn’t involved.”
As people chuckled, the pastor recalled telling the man, “You just need to try some of that ‘new wine’ (which Jesus spoke about in the New Testament).”
Heaven’s Good Days
The story I will always remember came near the end of Bub’s sermon.
He told of his brother calling him from the neighboring city where Cledith Sr. lived to tell him their father was gone.
That morning, Cledith Sr.’s granddaughter had been scheduled to give birth to his second great-grandchild. The family hoped the new babe would come before the patriarch passed.
Because kids rarely come when they’re supposed to, that didn’t happen.
While driving to the hospice center where his father spent his final days, Bub asked God why.
“Because I want to teach you a lesson you will always remember,” he sensed the Spirit saying.
“I want you to know how much I love your family. And I want you to remember that life always follows death. Death doesn’t follow life.”
What sparkling words of wisdom. With God, death isn’t the end, but just the beginning.
As Bub said in his sermon, in heaven there are no bad days.