Alternative or Religious Service - Memory or Celebration?



Death is inevitable – the way out - religious, joyous or, alternative?

For those people following my web-logs (blogs), you will notice one of my themes is ‘how funerals are changing’ and the pace of change which has been, for the funeral profession, not drastic but, fast! I guess that’s easy for me to say because I am involved in the process daily. For others, death and bereavement happen rarely, thank heavens and, infrequently.

Years ago, I noticed that it was more ‘p.c.’ to view funeral services as a Celebration of Life rather than an, ‘In Memoriam,’ occasion. Similarly I imagine, the ’Fire and Brimstone’ approach to religious preaching became reflections from and of, ‘Our Loving Father.’
God was no longer to be feared; respected yes but, a God of approach.

I have no idea as to the rights and wrongs of these changes but progress dictates change and swimming ‘upstream’ is a sheer waste of energy. Age, experience and discernment have taught me to ‘choose my battles.’ Age has somehow adjusted my patience levels and to fight the inevitable, technology, demographics and the like, is simply folly. So, let’s embrace the present, try to develop and steer it effectively towards a future that is both a personal and national, if not international or global, cultural advantage.

I could question of course, the ‘state’ of the Christian church in the United Kingdom. Is our approachable God working for our joint benefit? Was it meant to? Jesus was without compromise but, that was easy for Him since He was not only God but the Son of God and, the Holy Spirit – He had foreknowledge and more; He knew the outcome right? However, we don’t!

So, we plod on with the best tools we have and that’s fine but what about us when we are no longer mortal?
Currently we look back on life and celebrate the good. We don’t necessarily mention the ‘not-so-good’ or the struggles we all went through and we certainly don’t talk very much about commending us into God’s loving care or arms to prepare us for whatever comes next.

There seemed to be an in-between time when we hedged our bets. We didn’t necessarily believe in an afterlife but, we weren’t too sure either so we went through the ‘Commendation’ – just in case.

With the clergy in absence more and more at funeral services and the substitution of British Humanist Association officials (strictly atheist), or more pleasantly for some, funeral celebrants, transition is once again, upon us. (Did it ever leave us?)

Of course, there is no one to give us a definitive answer but technology and science have all but replaced ‘hope’ but, possibly at our own, future peril?

Another popular topic of conversation is the Roman Catholic Church. Fortunately, I am not in a position to judge, though responsibility teaches me to form an opinion at times. Has the ‘church’ destroyed its credibility? I personally think that we have a duty to make a decision but often, err – certainly in the view of others.
Since the church is run by human beings, there will always be areas or error. To look forward to a perfect afterlife, there has to be imperfections in the present life. How you deal with heaven and hell is personal. Whether you wish for a religious, Christian of ‘alternative’ funeral service is also, personal. What I would suggest is that you try and make some ‘provision of intent’ whilst you are still alive and cognitive – moreso, you let others know your wishes – today!
My advice to children who don’t wish to discuss the topic with their aging parents is quite the opposite – encourage discussion then, get on with the rest of your life, death IS, inevitable – be prepared.

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