WHY NO EULOGY? – A Message from Pastor Fraker

The word eulogy literally means, “good words”.  We’ve all seen them delivered—whether from our culture:  On a TV show or movie (which rarely, if ever, depict a funeral as an actual Worship Service), or perhaps even as you attended the funeral of a loved one or friend.  It is the opportunity given to someone to come forward during the funeral to speak about the deceased.  In fact, sometimes opportunity is given for any and every one to come forward to share whatever occurs to them.

These words can range from the sarcastic to the sublime, from the serene to the sentimental.  From the standpoint of the actual presentation, they can be well done, or—with a person overcome with grief and emotion—can be embarrassing and difficult for the speaker to accomplish, and for those gathered to endure.

Among the “best-case” scenarios, the good words spoken can be well thought out, well-rehearsed, and well done…an expression of God’s grace in Jesus Christ; faith in Him for salvation, the fruit of the Spirit that was grown and seen in the life of the deceased.  Even with that said, that is not what a Funeral Service or Memorial Service is about.  “Worst-case” scenarios are those that actually proclaim false doctrine:  That the person is in heaven now because of the life they led; that he or she is watching over us right now and will be with us always; that they have earned their wings and are now angels in heaven.  None of these are true.

The Funeral or Memorial Service is a Worship Service.  And that informs and guides everything that takes place—from the music played and sung, to the one who leads the Service.  Your pastor is Called to lead you in Worship.  To proclaim God’s Word as we focus on Christ’s presence and promises.  Certainly the funeral is a special event.  But it is one that takes its cue from the biggest event of all:  God coming to us in His Word.  That is why the Service is in God’s house; that is why we seek consolation and comfort from His Word.  Our hope and joy, our strength and solace are not found in memories—but in means, God’s Word.  The focus of the funeral is not about the legacy one leaves; it is about the eternity one lives—by the faith God gives us by His grace, through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

That I say no to the request for someone to come forward and speak at the Funeral or Memorial Service is not intended to be an affront to you; it is not done in order to insult you or the memory of your loved one…I loved them, too!  It is not meant to curtail expressions of love and honor and memories.  My intention is to reserve those words and expressions for the best places for them to occur.  So, I will suggest at the cemetery—before or after the Committal Rite; I will suggest at the reception/time of fellowship after the Service.

For several months in 2011, I led a Sunday morning Adult Bible Class, using a book entitled, FINAL VICTORY – Contemplating the Death and Funeral of a Christian.  In that book, the author writes, “A eulogy is not in the best Christian tradition…It might be appropriate for family and friends to say a few words about the beloved dead in a more casual setting, such as a reception or family gathering after the Service” (p. 47).  

This book is a great resource for all kinds of information surrounding the Service of a Funeral.  If you would like to look at a copy, please let me know!  Also, if you would like to talk to me about this topic, please let me know that, too!  

That Jesus is seen—Pastor Don Fraker

ood      © 2017 Cross Lutheran Church, New Braunfels, TX.