Reading obituaries comes with the job of being a pastor. Even when I am not officiating the service, nearly always I will read the obituary of a recently departed parishioner. Some folks, like Vivian Nelson– the Central saint who was recently promoted to glory, write their own obituary. Sometimes it seems like Joe Friday from the old Dragnet TV show wrote it: “Just the facts, Ma’am.” You’ve read them. You know. Obituaries give the important details of a person’s life: where they worked; what they liked; the family members remaining and those who have already died; and, of course, the dates of birth and death. If the deceased wasn’t necessarily a flower-type of person, the last line of the obituary will read something like: In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to “Central Church of the Nazarene.”
This week, I saw an obituary that said: “In lieu of flowers, please root for the Jets they need all the help they can get.” It was funny. The poor New York Jets fan (at least they have one Super Bowl ring, unlike the woe-begotten Lions’ fans) didn’t need flowers, but even from the grave he was calling for his teams’ success.
Reading that obituary got me thinking, “in lieu of flowers” what would I want people to do following my funeral. Don’t cheer any more or less for the Detroit Lions, they are a lost cause. What action would I want people to take in light of my passing? I’ve got a few ideas for Karla (or whomever) is writing my obituary. Here you go:
In lieu of flowers…
- Give your heart, your whole heart, to Jesus.
- Serve your neighbor
- Determine to bring a smile to someone’s face today
- Buy lunch for a lonely widow.
- Tudor a struggling student
- Buy school items for a local elementary school and then volunteer to help.
- Ask where you could be used in your church’s children’s ministry.
- Hate Kids? Ask where you can serve in the youth ministry.
- Hate Teenagers too? See Item #1.
And if you are a rich friend reading my obituary, how about this one: In lieu of flowers please pay off the debt of Central church so we can fulfill the IMAGINE promise of ministering “in Flint as it is in heaven” a lot quicker, better and more generously.
I hope you don’t consider this a morbid discussion. Like our milk jugs, we all have an expiration date. Still, I’m not planning on this list showing up in the Flint Journal anytime soon, but in lieu of my not passing, how about doing some of those items anyway.