Could I Funeralize an Atheist?

Officiated a funeral today. It was good by most standards: 84 year old woman, been in church since she was six, plenty of singing. My sermon was about how she was the glue that held the family together, but since she’s gone, it’s “Time to Step Up” (see II Timothy 4:6-8). Another lady accepted Christ afterwards and I’ll baptize her in 3 weeks as a result of my efforts and the Spirit’s movement.

Eulogies are never easy, but this one was about as easy as it gets considering I never met the deceased. She was a Christian, so I and others definitely talked about how we should be celebrating her transition.

Then that got me to thinking: how would I funeralize an atheist I didn’t know? Atheists deserve to be buried with dignity and have good words spoken over them, too. But no gospel? No using the person’s life as a catalyst to lead others to Christ? No rhetorical flourishes about “looking down from the balconies of heaven?” What would I say? What would we sing?

I guess I’d figure something out, but I really never thought about it before.

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One response to “Could I Funeralize an Atheist?

  1. Seth,
    With God’s grace, I’m sure you could do it. I’ve thought a lot about this – our culture is changing, going more secular everyday. but that doesn’t mean that there will ever be a lack of need for remembering and respecting the dead with ritual. It just means that your job would be a little more uncomfortable then, maybe…

    God rest this woman. I remember at my Grampa’s funeral – the priest officiated, although Gramps was not a Catholic. It was out of respect for mt Gramma, who was! (She’d been dead for two years…) I’m sure he would have been appalled, but she would have been happy.

    blessings upon your ministry & love, anna

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