Ephesians 6:22 – I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may console and cheer and encourage and strengthen your hearts. (AMP)
The body, wrapped in black cloth, was rolled out into the cemetery on something like a stretcher. The cantor read scriptures about facing judgment and meeting God. The family cut into their clothing as a sign of grief, and would wear these same items for the next seven days. The body was covered with concrete slabs, and earth was shovelled over the top.
This was part of my friend's experience at her friend's funeral in Israel. Different in some ways and so familiar in others, all funerals have one thing in common. Most of us there don't know what to say to the bereaved. My pastor, Cliff Fletcher, offers some good advice on ways to offer comfort.
"When in doubt, remember that a hug, a firm handshake, and 'I'm sorry,' goes a long way. Pray before speaking. This is not the time for advice or sermons. Instead, give memories by mentioning times shared. Remember that comfort doesn't end at the funeral. Holidays and birthdays are coming up. Send a card. Make a phone call. Be available."
When our next sad funeral occasion happens, as it will, let's make an effort to comfort and console the bereaved by asking God to watch our mouth and to help us do and say the right thing.
Prayer: Dear God, mind our mouths. Our mouths get in gear too often without a brake at the ready. Help us to remember to pray before opening our lips, and then, Lord, let cheer and consolation be our goal. Thanks, in Jesus' name. Amen.