Saturday, April 9, 2011


Whatever happened to R.I.P.? I was listening to a dialogue on the radio about current funeral trends. It seems that some people are more concerned about their ‘carbon footprint’ when they die than Judgment Day, Heaven, Hell, or their future resurrection! I thought the idea was more about that when we die we were to rest in peace until our resurrection, and therefore less about the most ‘environmentally friendly’ way of disposing of our dead bodies. I for one don’t want my body ‘disposed of’ at death. When I die I just want to rest in peace!

Apparently good old Christian burial uses up a lot less energy than cremating. It seems to me that two men with two shovels win hands down! But apparently there are carbon footprints all over coffins and their manufacture. Then there’s the hearse ride to the cemetery, not to mention the fossil fuel that the visiting mourners’ cars use. Still, Christian burial produces far less carbon than cremation. Crematoriums are now trying to compete in the lucrative funeral market by alerting us to the idea that there will be a significant cut back on carbon if the deceased were to be cremated sans coffin! O, just let me rest in peace…

In some of the bigger cities burial plots are at such a premium that it is recommended (to save space!) that you be laid to rest vertically. One presumes that it would be head at top and feet at bottom, though the people on the radio show I was listening to didn’t stipulate which. I must admit to warming slightly to their suggestion of being buried beneath a tree. I once planted a tree to mark where I had buried a beloved pet. But then the radio people spoiled it by saying that it was so that the tree would suck nutrients from you! O, just let me rest in peace!

Both my parents were cremated and had their ashes sprinkled into the sea from the seashore as the tide was going out. Not quite my idea of a burial at sea! I must admit that I would much rather that they, like Abraham and Sarah, were buried in a ‘family plot’ where I could join them as we together await the resurrection at the Last Day!

At this point it is usual for Christians to start discussing the fact that the God who created us is able to recreate us even if our bodies have become dust and have been scattered to the four winds. This is all perfectly true, but what does this have to do with the mode and method of burial for believers as exampled throughout Scripture?

When I die I don’t want to rest in peace knowing that my funeral produced a low carbon footprint, or that I am the compost heap helping the growth of some tree! Rather I want to rest in peace knowing ‘that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.’ Job 19:25-27. Ah, the resurrection!

My future resurrection is assured and secured by Christ’s resurrection some 2,000 years ago. He wasn’t cremated in a box or outside a box. He wasn’t buried under a freshly planted tree. Before they funeralized Him they washed and cared for His dead body, wrapping Him in cloths with spices. He rested in peace until the third day and then He rose again. And when He returns ‘the dead in Christ will rise first’ 1 Thessalonians 4:16, ‘And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt’ Daniel 12:2. ‘Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth –those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation’ John 5:28-29.

In life and in death my body is my private property (actually, it belongs to Jesus). So, when I die, simply lay me in my grave as in my bed and let me rest in peace. Do not dispose of me thoughtfully! Let me rest in peace because my Master is not finished with my body…

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