As I made mention the other day, I have accepted a Senior Pastor position, and will be starting within the next month. This of course means great transitions in life, but it also means many new opportunities and experiences on the professional side.

One thing that has been on my mind is funerals. Strange, huh? I have been thinking about how being a senior pastor will require of me at some point to perform funerals, as well as care and counseling for those who are grieving. This has been spurring a set of thoughts that was randomly clarified by an episode of “Little House on the Prairie”. I was flipping through stations while cleaning my office this afternoon, and caught a short segment. I can’t say I’ve ever watched a whole episode, but this moment in the show was good. A man had come from “back East” to tell his daughter her mother had died. A month ago. He didn’t feel that sending a letter was the proper thing. I turned the TV off to contemplate this further.

Our culture has become greatly distanced from death. We do everything we can to avoid it, both personally as well as corporately. We try all sorts of things to add years to our lives. If I told you that the bark from a young oak sapling was a great source of anti-oxidants (which help reduce the rate of cancer, helping you live longer), someone would try to make it commercially available. This plays out in many ways. Plastic surgery would be another great example.

When someone dies, we hire someone to take the body and prepare it for burial. We pay someone else to clean up any mess from the death. We’ve created an elaborate (and expensive) system all around our avoidance of death.

Back in the 1870’s (Little House time), and in other regions in our world, death was a different experience. It was far more “real” to those people I think. The cow you are eating for dinner was the same one standing in your field a day ago. Medicine was rudimentary at best, and things we take for granted today killed thousands in localized outbreaks.

We have become experts at suppressing, delaying and avoiding grief.

So you might be saying to yourself at this point, alright, get to the conclusion already. I’m not sure I have a conclusion at this stage. Some of this is our microwave culture – instant gratification. But I think there is more there to be unearthed. We as a culture are changing the way we grieve, but I wonder if that is for the good. We still have the same needs to address, the tug of the grave never changes. As for me, I’ll continue thinking about this, but I suspect the reality won’t fully set in until I am elbows deep in ministering to someone in their time of need. I pray for the wisdom and ability to grieve with them.

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