The Sermon at My Funeral



When I was a young man I spent time with the book of Job. I don’t know if Job wrote the book, when it was written, or if any details are factual. Some parts of it are mythological in character.

The book tells an ancient story of a rich and righteous man who suffered great loss, including loss of health. Paintings do not adequately portray his misery. He sat in the village ash heap, and scraped putrefaction from his sores with a piece of pottery.

He was not isolated. He had a prolonged visit from several friends who did not know how to comfort. Instead, they accused Job: What had happened to him was his fault; he only appeared to be a good man; he was guilty of secret sin.  Job stoutly defended himself.  In Chapter 19, it is reported that Job roused himself from the ashes and made a remarkable statement

Job said, “Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever! I know that my Redeemerc lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in  my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”  NIV

These words intrigued me.  They became favorite verses.  Job claimed to know something about the future for which he had no evidence.  I call it a confession of faith.  It was faith and a knowing without scientific evidence.

If there is a sermon at my funeral I will be pleased if the preacher spent some time with these words of Job. Of course I do not know if I will know what is said at my funeral.  The preacher will do well to note my contentment with not knowing.

Many years later I latched onto New Testament texts that the preacher may add to the sermon at my funeral.  I like John 1:1-9 where the life of Jesus is introduced as the light of the world.  The life of Jesus is said to be the light for everyone.   I would wish the preacher at my funeral to dwell on the hope given in I John 2:8.  Here the writer sees the passing of darkness, and declares that the true light is already shining in his world.

To me, this seems a statement of faith, but not without evidence.  I say at the end of My Faith Pilgrimage that I turn my back on the dark and turn to the east where the light of the life of Jesus is beginning to glow on the horizon.  This blog was inspired this morning by a TED talk on YouTube.  An Afghan woman reported at the end of her talk that Afghanistan looked hopeless when viewed from America by Americans.  But when she was in her home country she was hopeful because of millions of girls who were being educated.

I do not want the preacher at my funeral to dwell on the passing darkness, but to instead point to evidence that the true light of the life of Jesus is already shining.

About Martin Lehman

I was born 92 years ago, the son of a Mennonite pastor and organic gardener in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. At age 10 I was baptized as a member of the Marion Mennonite Church. I own the "Old Fool" moniker because I want to walk the Jesus Way even though the world and much of the church takes me as a fool for doing so. In my life I have moved from being a young conservative to an elderly radical. I tell that story in My Faith Journey posted on my website.
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2 Responses to The Sermon at My Funeral

  1. Ira Sollenberger says:

    This reminds me of your”The Antithesis of Job” of which I have a copy. I believe the sermon your are envisioning may be quite dsifferent from your book.

  2. You have what I do not have, a copy of my Antithesis of Job. Several years ago an enthusiastic conservative asked permission to make and distribute copies of it. I gave him permission. Remember that I was in CPS and barely out of my late teens when I wrote it. If I haven’t learned and unlearned any thing since then, I would be disappointed in my self. I still am learning after writing and posting”My Faith Pilgrimage”

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