Christmas, Conversation, and Cremation

So while visiting with my parents over Christmas, my mom had this brilliant idea of ignoring our electronic devices and actually having and enjoying conversation (as if that is possible with 9 grandchildren and 3 in-laws in the room). Can you believe that? Yes, she was serious. Yes, my dad agreed. And yes, it was hard.

After all, I should have seen it coming. I DID grow up in a home with no TV in the kitchen. I DID grow up in a home without cable. And I DID grow up in a home where we simply did NOT watch TV in the den while we ate supper (except on those VERY rare occasions – like when Rudolph came on or when my dad was gone on a call to pull a calf out of a cow’s you know what).

We ate supper. . .  imagine this now. . . around the kitchen table.

So, I should have expected it.

For the most part, the conversation was pleasant. Until the conversation turned to being cremated post-kicking the bucket. That’s right. Nothing says presents, Christmas, eggnog, ham, coffee and breakfast casserole like a conversation about the ethics and convenience of which family member gets to put the urn in their home. Needless to say, I was longing for an e-mail from the chairman of the deacons for a special called deacons meeting on Christmas morning or something. But I couldn’t check my e-mail because my iPhone was upstairs.

I will save the ‘who was for ‘and ‘who was against’ cremation until later. . . maybe. But it did get me thinking. How should an evangelical Christian think about cremation?

Since then, I have read three different articles by Russell Moore on the issue.

One is here, entitled “Cremation and  a New Kind of Christianity.”

Another is here, entitled “The Empty Tomb and the Empty Urn.”

And the third is here, entitled “Grave Signs.” If you only have time to read one, I would recommend this one.

As I have read these articles, and thought about this issue, this quote from Moore has probably been the most helpful so far:

“Like the culture around us, we tend to see death and burial as an individual matter. That’s why we make our own personal funeral plans, in the comfort of our living room chairs. And that is why we ask the kind of question we ask about this issue: ‘What difference does it make, as long as I am resurrected in the end?’

“Recognizing that cremation is sub-Christian doesn’t mean castigating grieving families as sinners. It doesn’t mean refusing to eat at the dining room table with Aunt Flossie’s urn perched on the mantle overhead. It doesn’t mean labeling the pastor who blesses a cremation service as a priest of Molech.

“It simply means beginning a conversation about what it means to grieve as Christians and what it means to hope as Christians. It means reminding Christians that the dead in the graveyards behind our churches are ‘us’ too. It means hoping that our Christian burial plots preach the same gospel that our Christian pulpits do” (Emphasis mine).

What do you think it means to grieve and hope as an evangelical Christian who follows Jesus?

Have you read any articles or come across any Christian arguments FOR cremation? Please pass them my way.

At the very least, I think Moore is right that we need to AT LEAST begin a conversation about what it means to grieve and hope as Christians.

So go ahead. . . grab some outdated eggnog and your closest kin and talk about it. And let me know what you, Aunt Flossie, and Uncle Ding-Ding think about it. Or, if you could care less about this topic, pass along some of the ‘off the wall’ things your family conversed about when you weren’t checking email?

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About pastormpearson

Follower of Jesus. Husband to Katie. Father to Luke, Seth, and Birtukan. Pastor of the First Baptist Church in El Dorado, Arkansas.

Posted on December 29, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. What do you mean “outdated eggnog?” 🙂 🙂 I can’t wait to read the comments that this blog might generate.
    One other question, though. What about the whole “donating your body to science” issue?

  2. I love this post because I know your family, and I can hear / see / visualize this entire conversation playing out…especially Connie putting the kibosh on electronics at the table, you saying, “Are you serious?,” and then MANY other comments that I know emerged from Julie, Laura, et al.

    Man, what I wouldn’t give for another Pearson / Murphy New Year’s Eve!

  1. Pingback: Sanctification Via an In-Law (T) « The HEART of Pastor Matt

  2. Pingback: Now THAT’s a Good Question!!!! « Intentional Pastoring

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