So·ci·ol·o·gy (noun)-the study of the development, structure, and functioning of human society.
This semester, I elected to take sociology to fulfill my honors credit. My professor began today’s lecture by asking us to write our own personal answers to three questions, the first of which was, “What is the purpose of funerals?”
After allowing us some time to write out our answers, he lectured for about half an hour (about topics completely unrelated to the questions at the beginning of the class period), and then separated the class into ten small groups and asked us to discuss and come up with a collaborative answer for his question. After a few minutes of discussion, he collected the answers from all ten groups and read each of the answers to the class. Not surprisingly, all of the groups came up with the general consensus that we have funerals in order to provide closure for the living friends and family of the deceased, and to celebrate the life of the dead and how they had an impact on other people.
Apparently, this is not the correct answer…
Sociology takes the stand that the purpose of funerals is to fill the structural hole left by the deceased. My professor continued to explain that the purpose of the funeral has evolved over time. He posed, for the sake of conversation, that funerals have existed for about 10,000 years, and that the original purpose may have just been to get rid of a dead body, and to grieve. Then the purpose shifted to a, “Bob died, but Bob was really my only connection to Jim, but I don’t really know Jim that well, so I should cozy up to Sally in order to keep up with Jim now,” me-centric, structural-hole-fillling kind of thing. Plus the grieving thing. Only in recent history has the conversation of funerals shifted from a time of grief to a time of celebration of one’s life, and he hinted that this new popular opinion is incorrect.
While I acknowledge that this is a stance taken by some, I am of the opinion that funerals should, in fact, be a celebration of one’s life. Granted, I am speaking as someone who has experienced very little loss in her life, and I know that grieving is a natural process that everyone goes through, but as Christians, we have the hope of knowing that the greatest treasure in our lives will come after our death. Sometimes it may be hard to talk about death, or to recognize that our time on earth is fleeting, but we have far better things to look forward to!
Matthew 6:19-24 says:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
(In fact, all of Matthew 6 is great, so I encourage you to read the whole thing.)
We are storing up our treasures in heaven. What we have on this earth will not travel with us to heaven, but rather we will have the things that last into eternity. Having an eternal perspective is a key aspect of living out the Christian faith in everyday life. When we live with the knowledge that this world is passing away to give birth to a glorious future, all of life’s problems seem dull and trivial in comparison. Living with eternal perspective is what should motivate us in our times of grief, anxiety, and worry. This is an essential lesson to learn, especially as a college student, where it sometimes seems that all you do is worry. Take rest and find peace in knowing that Jesus gives you greater gifts than the world can afford.
So after the lecture on death, I decided to focus on life tonight.
WARNING: Shameless Sisterhood Plug Ahead!
Monday night is chapter night for Sigma Phi Lambda, the Christian sorority that I am a member of on campus. Tonight I had that opportunity to pray, worship, and enjoy fellowship with my sisters, whom I haven’t gotten to see since before finals week, more than a month and a half ago. I missed my sisters so much and was so happy to see them again! Phi Lamb has been such a huge part of my life here at Arkansas. I find so much encouragement in being a member of this organization. I have found so many friends who give me reasons to laugh, love, and feel like living a life for Jesus.
Phi Lamb Recruitment is coming up during the first week of February! If you are a student at Arkansas and you are still looking for a place to get plugged in and feel loved and accepted, Phi Lamb is a fantastic place for you to be! We want to welcome you with open arms! Don’t hesitate to contact me if you are interested. We are so excited to meet all the new lambs!
I’m looking forward to the great semester ahead of me.