I could imagine giving a Good Friday eulogy on the occasion of Jesus’ death. It would seem far stranger to give a eulogy for Jesus during this seven week season of Easter. He has risen indeed, put aside the funeral rites! What if I were to tell you that “eu-logy” is the Biblical Greek word translated as “good word” or “blessing”? Here’s a good word from St. Paul:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” ~Ephesians 1:3
“Eulogized be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has eulogized us in Christ with every spiritual eulogy in the heavenly places.”
When a eulogy is given at a memorial or funeral service we take a few minutes to honor a life lived. A few stories and memories capture a sense of this person’s character and legacy. We give thanks for our dearly departed. A modern development has been the “Celebration of Life” gathering, which stretches the eulogy to cover the entirety of the service, usually sweeping God-talk either under the rug or into vague mentions of a “better place.” Celebrations of Life are well-meaning, but insufficient to the task of grief and gratitude and Gospel.
Paul’s opening overture to the church in Ephesus binds together three eulogies. God the Father is blessed; God the Son is the source and location of our blessing; God the Holy Spirit gives to us every heavenly blessing in Christ. In other words, our eulogy finds space and definition within God’s Triune Eulogy. Words about the lives we and our loved ones have lived are shaped by the language of the Good Word who for our sakes took on human nature, died, and lives again. To tell the history of a Christian we tell his story, the story of Christ.
Finding ourselves in this triple eulogy of Father, Son and Spirit frees us to speak truthfully about our own lives. The pressure to self-eulogize gives way to the joy of salvation. We don’t have to spin the story of our life into heroic tales of how we have tried our best despite a few “mistakes” along the way. Rather, we discover “God’s grace is sufficient for us; God’s power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). We boast in the Lord and consider our eulogies as testimonies of what God can do through even one such as me.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” ~Ephesians 2:8-10
Yes, there will be good works in our path. God has promised this to be our way of life. Yes, our loved ones will pick up and eulogize a few of these good works at our own funerals. God be boasted for these blessings!
Let the Easter eulogies sound forth, “Jesus is risen and we shall arise. Give God the glory! Alleluia!” (ELW #377)
Shalom, Pr. Tom