Our family planned two memorial services for Rhoda, one at the College Mennonite Church in Goshen, Indiana and another at the Bahia Vista Mennonite Church in Sarasota, Florida. Both services have been posted on this website, the latter is now placed in a prominent place.
Recently I attended a service in the Belmont Mennonite Church in Elkhart, Indiana, that celebrated the life of Ann Gingerich. Today on my computer I watched the streaming of the memorial service at the College Mennonite Church in Goshen that celebrated the life of Fran Wenger.
Why do I pay attention to the memorial services of persons whom I do not know? In part I am prompted by the words of the son of King David, likely King Solomon, who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament. The writer called himself “the Preacher and he described in the book how desperately he sought satisfaction in the accumulation of things only to discover that the results of his ventures were empty and meaningless.
In Chapter 7:2 of Ecclesiastes the Preacher advises that it is better to spend time at funerals than at parties. After all, the Preacher observes, everyone dies and the living should take that to heart. If the Old Fool were making the observation he would say that it is better to go to a memorial service (celebration of life) than to a church pot luck dinner because every one at the table is going to die, and all should prepare for the certainty of that event.
Everyone will die. That fate is unavoidable. All that one can do is to find comfort in the celebration of a life, and give sober thought to its brevity. We know a little of how life begins, we know how to sustain life for a while, but of what happens after death, we know nothing. No matter what we believe, no matter how sincerely we believe it, no matter what we think we know, we know nothing. The best we can do is give heart to life. That is why we should go to memorial services.